Short Film Profile

Non Serviam

Amounting to nothing much more than a small time coke dealer to naive college students, Jack, decides to call it quits when more important situations arrive, his girlfriend Anna recently in remission from cancer. He doesn't blink an eye in making his decision to walk away from the life of a narcotics but falls into old gambling habits when he attempts to make fast money in order to clear Anna of her medical bills.

Based on an inside tip from a friend Jack goes all in betting against the Phillies in the 2008 World Series only to find out that the fix is against him. Watching the game he nervously does line after line of blow while chain smoking cigarettes. Frantically pacing the final out is made and his world comes crashing. As the Phillies celebrate he stares in disbelief disoriented by his intoxication and terrified by what he's gotten himself into.

As a result of Jack's mounting debt there's no time wasted in the collection. Heavy handed knocks resonate through Jack's apartment as an organized crime old timer hammers on the door. It doesn't take long for small talk to turn violent as Jack makes a break for it only to find himself in the clutches of his ruthless collector. The Gangster horrifically tortures and sadistically humiliates Jack in emasculating ways to teach him a lesson in who not to mess with. Suddenly, Anna walks in the door and meets this tragedy head on.

Film notes

Being a huge fan of crime fiction, in particularly gangster films, I wanted to have my own take on the genre. Thinking of the concept of a character who is amateurishly involved in drugs decides to change his current situation due to a realization that life is more valuable than he previously understood. In making that change, with the best intentions in mind, the character falls into old habits which ultimately destroys the life he has recently realized is so valuable, his girlfriend's.

Using the wild camera movements of films like Irreversible and Enter the Void, along with hand held shots akin to films such as Antichrist and Breaking the Waves, Non Serviam employs an unsettling and frantic view and pace. As the unnerving score vibrates through the bodies of the audience, scenes of frustration and vulnerability flash before them. Lines of coke are snorted effectively instigating disorientation by using in camera effects and further iterated by the intense performance of Rob Gardner (“Jack”).

Executing these techniques in scenes with the "Gangster" (Kenneth McGregor: X-Men, Cocktail) as violence erupts, the film takes a turn towards the worst possible scenario. The gritty aesthetic and erratic camera movement adds to the sense of realism of the situation as Kenneth McGregor gives an unflinchingly evil performance of an old timer recently released into society and ready to reclaim his past reputation.

The film culminates in a "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in" conclusion as we move in one continuous shot of the Gangster leaving the house with Jack's drugs and pulling away moments before Jack crawls out of his house in desperate need for help. Non Serviam is a daring endeavor not for the faint of heart or those accustomed to convention. The title also serves as a personal mantra against safe mainstream cinema.




Copyright © 2010 Louis Mansfield

Previous screenings

World Music and Independent Film Festival | 2011
15 Aug – 19 Aug | Washington DC, United States

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 1 Jul 2011