«Hole Punched Ear» by Alan Yammin and Ben Tull

«Hole Punched Ear» by Alan Yammin and Ben Tull

In Japan, there existed for long years the culture of jisei no ku, short poetic compositions, similar to haiku, that samurai, monks, poets, and those sentenced to death wrote as a farewell at the moment they felt the end approaching.
The tension of writing a poem, a magical interlocking of words, emotions, and metrics, thus finds in the most dramatic moment its source of maximum inspiration and freedom.
This is, in some ways, the same thing that happens in Hole Punched Ear, an ambitious dystopian short film directed by Alan Yammin and Ben Tull.

Zorina Harcrow – a young poet played with fierce intensity by Shelby Slager – finds herself confined to a desolate, claustrophobic cell against the backdrop of a transfigured Chicago, while incessant rain barely overpowers the sounds of screaming. The atmosphere is thick with despair, yet it is precisely in this confinement that Zorina’s spirit and poetry flourish. As the protagonist writes her verses in an old notebook, her fate seems sealed, and her voiceover punctuates a contrast of poignant beauty.

The filmmakers use the sinister ticking of a clock, installed in the protagonist’s arm, as a stark reminder of violence that is impossible to escape, adding a level of suspense that propels the narrative forward. “Hole Punched Ear” excels in its ability to maintain a tight narrative arc, making use of strong visual symbolism and offering incisive and emotionally charged sequences that keep the viewer engaged from beginning to tragic end. The film culminates in a heartbreaking climax when Zorina faces her fate with a defiant gaze, but her last poem will serve as a powerful testament to her spirit remaining intact.

“Hole Punched Ear” is a short film that makes strong choices, motivated with the goal of testifying to the ultimate power of words, art, and resilience in mantaining human bonds even beyond loss.

Indeed, the voiceover of this poem in the final scene echoes the unresolved loss and anger, setting the stage for a sequel, perhaps, in which justice might finally be sought…