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Choices (2023)

2023 HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW!


Three teenagers have been affected differently by an unexpected pregnancy. One’s pregnancy was ended, another is seven months into the process, and a third is awaiting the results of a test. All three view their pregnancy in a different light, and their futures will be a culmination of all of the Choices that they’ve made. While their situations aren’t ideal, they are prepared to make the most of it.


Teenage pregnancy is a difficult topic to cover; it’s challenging to address it tactfully and in a way that viewers can appreciate–but sometimes it just needs to be done. Writer-Director Kameishia Wooden attacks this subject head on, and only avoids mentioning exactly what the film is about in the opening minute or two. This creates suspense (to a degree) and adds to the story. However, other than those opening few minutes, Wooden isn’t afraid to say exactly what she thinks about the controversial topic. Even though she attacks the topic head on, she’s never aggressive, but rather honest in her approach. To be honest, I, as a thirty-something-year-old man with no children, shouldn’t care too much about teenage pregnancy, but the way in which Wooden frames Choices is inviting, and it allowed me a way into it.

The film is full of a combination of dramatic and lighthearted moments that combine to make the film more accessible. Again, I’m not really the target audience of Choices, and if I were to walk away from this film without having been moved by Wooden’s film, I’m not sure that she would have been surprised. She uses a range of personalities to juxtapose one another and create those aforementioned moments, and even if I’m not the one that Choices is looking to reach, it allows me the opportunity to appreciate it anyway.


Choices uses a series of familiar places to help tell the story of these three girls. The cliche meeting under the bleachers develops a sense of understanding that allows the film to transcend viewers. We’ve all either met someone under the bleachers or seen a film or a television show that showcases a moment under the bleachers. This moment expresses seclusion, anxiety, and separation–and all of those things shine through as a result. The film then quickly transitions out into the open–making it clear the change in attitude and tone. Choices is artistically sound, and it does a stellar job of using the familiar to make connections with its viewers.

As the film fades to black, text appears on screen–and all that the film had been working toward is thwarted by Wooden and her team. By the conclusion of Choices viewers realize that the filmmakers are terribly misinformed in regard to some of their content. That ultimately throws a wrench in the validity of the story and just about everything that was said throughout the duration of the film. Your opinion is one thing, but to express things that are factually wrong is unacceptable–and that’s how the film ends. Everything that Choices had done to gain my attention, everything that it had done to reach a wide range of viewers goes out the window as it concludes. Everything that Wooden had worked for means nothing by the end.


The final seconds of the film, regardless of how frustrating they are, doesn’t technically take away from the fact that Choices is developed in sound fashion, and that the things that Wooden has done for her film are effective. The location, the development of suspense, and more are still done effectively–and that can’t be taken away. However, that text at the end of the film left a terrible taste in my mouth, one that couldn’t be curbed, one that ultimately forces me to think back to Choices with frustration and hints of disdain.


Written & Directed by Kameishia Wooden.


Starring Nay Nay Kirby, Keith Arthur Bolden, Nandi Nfr Ka, Maxcianna Saintilus, Jared Skolnick, etc.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/10


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