Between a Rock and a Pin Prick

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In Needle, a short film by Iranian filmmaker Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, sixth-grader Lily (Florence Winners) stands on the threshold between child and adulthood. Adults, including her bickering parents, talk over and down to her, and pump her for information on the other figures in her life. Ghazvinizadeh’s sharply observed film builds of Lily’s emotional landscape by filming her reactions to the turmoil around her. By making her the focus of the camera, but not the conversation, Lilly is portrayed as simultaneously a part of, but outside of, the adult world.

Lilly’s mother (Moe Bietiks) has promised Lily she’ll get her ears pierced at the office of her physician father (Noah Lepausky). Her parents, newly separated, are unable to put longstanding fights aside and the mother changes the plan, sending them off to a jewelry store for the piercing. The film, which won 1st place at the Cinefondation Short Film competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, hinges on Winner’s natural performance. She wanders in and out of both the Men’s and Women’s bathroom, observing herself in the mirror, seemingly trying on different looks to show the outside world. When Lily does finally get her ears pierced, her skin gets stuck in the piercing gun, another snag on her way from child to adult. By focusing on Lilly’s minor rebellions (like sticking chewing gum to the back seat of her neat-freak mother’s car) and her reactions to her parents crumbling marriage, Ghazvinizadeh and her cast create a memorable impression of the world according to a numbed tween.

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