Director Patrick Vollrath has been watching the Oscars since he was 13 years old. This year, he may win one himself.
Vollrath’s short film, “Everything Will Be Okay,” tells the story of a father who kidnaps his daughter from his ex-wife. The film aims to show both the daughter and the father’s points of view.
The father, Michael, played by Simon Schwarz, knows what he is doing from the beginning of the film, even though the audience does not. He picks up his daughter, Lea, played by Julia Pointner, to spend the weekend with her, and as their day unfolds, it becomes more and more clear what he plans to do. He tries to win Lea’s affection by buying her presents and bringing her to the fair, and later tries to escape the country with her.
“The father came from a desperate point,” Vollrath says. “He’s doing something very wrong, but I want to try to tell the audience why he is doing it. I want to make the audience feel for someone they want to hate.”
As the film, which is 30 minutes long, progresses, it becomes more and more emotional. Its lack of music and the hand-held cameras give it a realistic feeling. When Vollrath was doing research for the film, he spoke with a mother who experienced something like the story that he wrote, which allowed him to see how moving of an experience it was. “I started to ask myself, why can someone who says he loves his own child do something so painful to her out of love?”
The story is really about Lea, though. “During the separation she loves her father and her mother but they force her to decide who she likes more,” the director says. “She wants to make it right to both of them.” This conflict is played out in the film, with Lea’s determination to trust her father despite what he has done, and her wish that her parents could be happily together again.
Pointner, 8, has never acted before, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Her emotional performance won her the “Best Actress” award at the Manchester International Film Festival in July 2015. The young actress plays her character perfectly, and according to Vollrath, is as talented and creative as any adult actor. “It’s really nice to see from an 8-year-old,” he said.
“Everything Will Be Okay” is one of the five finalists for Live Action Short Film at the Oscars, and Vollrath hopes that he might win. “You never think of being part of that because it seems so, so far away,” he says. “In that moment, when you realize, the world gets a little bit smaller.”