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Setback of the Spirit


Directed by Sa’ed Arouri | Review by Rimute Terra Budreviciute

[dropcap]Setback[/dropcap] of the Spirit is the total opposite of what you would expect from student films. Typically, many student films lack story, composition, good editing, cinematography, great actors. It’s not to say that student films are bad – they’re just rough. They’re like diamonds, before the pressure turns them into beauties.

This film is a prime example of how to make a meaningful, limited and a beautiful student film that would leave a lasting impact. Essentially, the filmmaker responsible for this short film used everything best at his disposal. He chose the angles at which to film, the story that was small, manageable yet had a modern message; decent actors; easy dialogue for all members of the audience to follow and style of directing that was simple, yet still gave us valuable insight in all characters.

Actually, this film should stay as an example to many student films, especially those that aim for a higher budget: you can direct a great short film with minimal crew and cast and still make it look as a big budget Hollywood production.

Among many achievements that this film possesses, I just want to talk about two of them. First the story: So simple, but with a twist; definitely something a common viewer would understand, yet would need to think about. With characters that are deeply rooted individuals, it is not just one-sided typical short film people! This is one of the hardest tasks in making any movie, especially short film.

Young filmmakers typically tend to focus on all technical aspects of the film that they forget about the story and how important it is. They forget that it essentially doesn’t matter what lenses or sound equipment you pick, for as long as the story is good – none of those things stand a chance at pulling film into festivals.

The second best achievement in ‘Setback of the Spirit’ is it’s cinematography. The shots are absolutely beautiful. This short film is a total eye-candy. But not only do these shots present us with sophisticated camera angles, they also show us the richness of the story, the relationships between characters and environment, the issues that the film presents. It is yet another feat that’s rare for student filmmakers, who typically only focus on the composition, rather than the meaning behind the shot.

One “setback” of this short film is it’s score. While at times it enriches the overall environment of the film, it could also be distracting and even destructive towards the story. The loud violins and occasional musical interruptions can be useful, if used at the right times, but at this feature, filmmakers are yet to learn the significance of music.

Overall, ‘Setback of the Spirit’ is worth many praises and it has many fixes it could make, but nevertheless, it stays a good example for young filmmakers on how to make a meaningful short film.


Rimute Terra Budreviciute is a filmmaker, actress and singer from Lithuania. She has been a part of numerous stage and TV musicals in her home country. She is a graduate of Alytus Music School and has been a member of pop group “O Lia Lia” for 3 years before coming out to United States to study acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since then she has been working on multiple short films and plays.


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