Blinding Goldfish: African-American Short Film Review

Here’s another blast from the past article from when I was blogging on as L_Mellow.  Enjoy!

On Sunday mornings, I stick to a fairly constant routine: wake up no earlier than 8am, have breakfast while watching The Three Stooges, avoid shaving my face if at all possible, and go to a matinee.  However, this past Sunday, no movie title jumped out at me from the cinema pages of the local arts magazine I regularly scan for events happening in my city.  Instead, to my delight, after wearily surfing the channels of my cable box (Yes cable, I’ve not yet made the switch to a dish in my one bed-room apartment) and tumbling off my remote-control-surfboard into an ocean of uninspiring programming, I was rescued by a buoy of sorts: a program featuring African American short films on the CW network.

One film especially struck a chord with my cinematic receptivity.  It was a film titled Blinding Goldfish, (Directed by Jay Paramsothy) a story about a reporter who is assigned to interview a professor who survived the Jewish Holocaust.  During the interview, the professor retells an account of how his father was murdered by a German soldier during World War II.  The reporter, a young African-American man, immediately identifies with the sense of loss the professor has experienced, because he too has endured a similar tragedy, although not from a homicide, but rather through a disconnect brought on by the abusive nature of his Dad.  This level of abuse culminated one afternoon when his father killed his pet goldfish, sending him, then only a child, into a vengeful frenzy in which he attacked his father with a baseball bat.

The irony lies in the fact that the professor had lied to him about the murder of his father.  The journalist finds out later, to his shock, that the professor’s father had actually been in love with the German soldier whom was falsely accused of his murder.  It was the professor who actually killed his own father, after secretly witnessing a kiss the two tabooed lovers shared in the midst of a chaotic scene, where his father’s lover tries to plan a route of escape for his beloved, endangered prisoner.  The professor felt betrayed by his father, as did the reporter at the killing of his goldfish, and similarly, sought to avenge the offense.

I felt this film wonderfully explored the many paradoxes that are inherent with regard to matters of the heart.  I also felt the film creatively highlighted the fact that affliction is not bound by race.  As Michael Lerner best sums up with his comments in his conversation with Cornel West in Bridges And Boundaries, a book of essays exploring the commonality between the African-American and Jewish-American experience, “…our common history of suffering and common victimhood make a real basis for unity.”  (George Braziller © 1992)

© 2011


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