Showcase #8 at the DC Short Film Festival didn’t seem to have a consistent theme amongst the films. Each film was a surprise as to whether it would be funny, dramatic, political, or even a musical. At first it was an offsetting blend of films but seemingly random nature of each film brought a little more curiosity as to the contents of the next piece. However, there were only a couple standouts in the whole showcase, one of them being a documentary entitled The Third Parent.
The Third Parent is a seemingly low-key documentary about the relationship between an 11 year-old girl, Ariana, and her 5 year-old autistic brother, Marcello. The film centers around Ariana as she found it her obligation to raise her little brother with little help from her parents. It’s never clearly stated as to where the parents are but Ariana consistently alludes to the notion that they’re rarely around, whether it be at work or just “staying out late.” Ariana’s a girl whose childhood ended with the birth of her brother and she was forced to grow up too fast.
Ariana seems to have accepted her role as the “third parent” but there’s still sadness in her voice when she speaks of her absence from sleepovers, parties, and other activities kids her age participated. She shows nothing but love for Marcello but there is still resentment for the situation. We witness Ariana dealing with her brother’s tantrums and violent outbursts but we’re also let into some of the more endearing moments between the two siblings.
The Third Parent was an effective documentary because the filmmaker never showed anyone besides Ariana and her brother. In one scene we could hear their father, frustrated, yelling at Marcello while Ariana sits on her bed reading but then Marcello enters the room because he’d much rather be with his sister than his parents. It’s a tragic situation and the parents’ absence in their children’s lives is magnified by a world that consist solely of young girl and her little brother.