TCFF19 – Reviews of ‘The Present Is Female’ Short Block

The Present is Female is a strong block of shorts. As the name suggests, this block is all about the lives of modern women. Tonally this block is mostly comedic, although there are a couple darker stories thrown in for good measure. The block kicks off with a music video and from there, the stories range from workplace harassment to relationships to vengeance to mental illness and more. There is something for everyone in this block. Thanks to our contributor Holly Peterson.

Black Girls Fly 2

I’m not used to seeing music videos in short film blocks, but this little flick was a great exception to the general rule. Black Girls Fly 2 is a sweet black and white ode to the potential and beauty of black girls set to visuals of black girls playing on a playground, in front of a building, and running through a park. It is a heart-warming start to the block.

Lunch Break

Lunch Break is an unflinching look at micro-aggressions in the workplace told with a delightfully poppy visual aesthetic and a persistent comedic tone. Despite every scene of this film being chock full of material that will keep you squirming uncomfortably in your seat, it is hard not to enjoy the film. Mel (Mo Allen) is a relatable, harassed receptionist who struggles to stand up for herself; the boss’s son (Eli Michael Kaplan) is equal parts adorable and hate-worthy; and Mel’s boss (Josh Server), is so wonderfully played that you will want to punch him in the face by the time all is said and done.

To Ana

To Ana is a sweet little film about ghosting, broken hearts, and the unique steps we take to find healing and closure when it isn’t forthcoming from external sources. Alyssa DiVirgilio is funny, subtle, and relatable. Although the short never leaves the confines of her little apartment, the film is fully developed, leaving the audience with a slightly more whole version of Ana at the end of the film. One of my favorites.

The Tattooed Heart

The Tattooed Heart is an intense little film about a creative writing instructor (Jennifer Morrison) who has more in common with a juvenile delinquent (Madison Wolfe) in her writing class than she expects. The coloring of the film is as dark as its content, which creates a moody, ponderously paced film with a shocking conclusion.

Jane’s Comet

Jane’s Comet is about Jane (Sandra Struthers) who is so intelligent that a bunch of aliens are willing to hang out earth-side waiting for her to accept their rather extraordinary proposal. Told over the course of several decades, this is a cute film about priorities, love, career, and passion. I would have liked to see more of an effort to age the actresses down for the college scene (it took the next scene for me to realize that our main character was not, in fact, a grad student), but I think we all get that not everyone has the budget and resources of Geminae Man. Jane’s Comet is a neatly directed, science-y treat.

Girl Stuff

Girl Stuff is a laugh riot. Taylor (Kendra Alaura) and Gina (Tiffany Cornwell) are friendship goals as they bully each other into living their best lives. Taylor has been avoiding taking the next step with a man she has feelings for and Gina is terrified of getting hurt in love, but through the power of friendship, they are both going to make it. Written and produced by the two lead actresses, this one is about as fun and relatable as it gets. One of my favorites in the block.

The Star of Therapy

The Star of Therapy is a glimpse into the ridiculous world of group therapy, where tensions run high and everyone is obnoxious. Kendra (Ana Pacheco), suffering from both anxiety and depression, struggles to complete her weekly assignments and forms a not-so-friendly rivalry with the overachieving OCD Leanette (Stella Lai). There are great moments in this movie (Kendra’s victory dance and the montage of her room being overtaken by sticky notes were two of my favorites), but it sorely needed a tighter edit and a more natural script. The short frequently drags and although I believe that the over-the-top nature of the dialogue is inspired by real-life experience, it felt too fabricated within the story. Still a highly compelling look at mental illness and how we deal with it.


Grace is probably one of the most powerful shorts in the block. Grace (Shenell Edmonds) and her aunt (Mary Hodges) are evicted from their home, which leads to all kinds of related problems. Edmonds is very gifted at giving the viewer the tiniest of glimpses into her internal world while maintaining a mostly stony teenagery exterior. Beautifully shot, this is a stark, abrupt film and an amazing conversation starter.

*The featured image of this post is a still from Grace short film.

– Reviews by Holly Peterson

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