Mousie is a short film (just under 17 minutes) from Writer/Director David Bartlett and Producer Will Poole which tells the story of a young Roma girl Helene (SASHA WATSON-LOBO) forced to take refuge in a Berlin Cabaret Club in 1936. Alone, frightened, and not fully comprehending the danger that she is in, Helene is protected as far as possible by Katharina, a performer in the club who promised Helene’s Roma mother that she would try to keep her child safe from the concentration camps. Hiding a child who does not want to stay hidden is difficult for Katharina, and trying to elude the clumsy advances of army recruit Otto (JACK BENNETT) adds to her problems.
Dreams of a new life in America are woven here for Helene by Katharina, but reality is always far more pressing, and much-loved toy, Mousie, becomes the focus of Helene’s world, a sole link to the safety and comfort of a family that she once knew, and cannot understand why it is not there now and why people she loves are not now with her.
There are some delicate, but strong performances here from our main cast and the air of decay of the cabaret club and the inability of anyone around to do much more than cope with their own daily struggle of just getting by is well portrayed by the rest of our cast.
This an almost dream like quality here to the cinematographer Paul Kirstop, and our ending is one of almost pure fantasy that only a child would think of to elude a threat of real danger.
The at times elusive quality of fantasy coupled with the harsh reality of Helene’s dire predicament makes you at times wonder if any if this ever really happened. In what aspect of what we call reality could a child have committed a crime by just being born Roma? Such a world is almost itself a fantasy beyond our comprehension. This world did exist though, and there are many un-named Helene’s who paid a price they should never have been asked to pay for simply existing. This film is a reminder of how vigilant we all have to be to ensure that history is never allowed to repeat itself.
Having already been successful at some major film festivals around the world, Mousie is now eligible to be considered for an Academy Award.
Full Cast List
SASHA WATSON-LOBO as Helene
CJ JOHNSON as Katharina
JACK BENNETT as Otto
JOSHUA LAY as The Red Devil
NICHOLE BIRD as Gertrud
SOMI DE SOUZA as Mama Zehala
NIGEL COOKE as Kauz
ROBERT GILL as Theo
Mousie was made in support of refugee charity The Separated Child Foundation (Reg’d Charity no. 1120669)
Review by Tom King (c) 2021
ARTS REVIEWS EDINBURGH