Zori (2013) – By Misty Layne

On an island a flip flop is a terrible thing to lose. This is the tagline for Zori, a Jima Jack Film, written by Jack Niedenthal and directed by Jack and Suzanne Chutaro. Hailing from the Marshall Islands (you may remember my review of The Sound of Crickets at Night from a few months last December by this same team?), this 9 minute film proves the tagline to be true.

A young Marshallese boy, Labro, wakes up one morning anxious for his grandmother to fulfill her promise of buying him ice cream. She agrees, but demands that he do some work first, commanding him with a sweep of her arm to, ‘Clean up all the garbage everywhere.’
As Labro goes out the door of his rustic shack, he realizes that one of his zoris is missing.
His grandmother, angry because he has yet again lost one of his flip flops, gives him an ultimatum: "Do not come back to the house until you have zoris on both of your feet." So Labro begins his quest under the hot island sun to clean up ‘everywhere’ and to find his other zori…
Above is the plot of our little film and the characters and while it may seem like such a simple premise (and it is really), the way it’s put forth is downright charming and sweet. Our little hero, Labro, does indeed clean up everywhere, walking the entire island with only his one zori, cleaning up everything he finds – he definitely took his grandmother’s cleaning request seriously. Along the way he daydreams about the delicious ice cream that will hopefully await him and pauses for the occasional bit of play. Maxter Tarkwon does an excellent job in portraying Labro. As all the actors in this are from the Bikinian and Majuro Atoll communities, I’m assuming Maxter hasn’t had a lot of acting experience before which makes his performance that much more charming. Bright eyed and with a killer smile, you’ll fall in love with Labro long before his journey is over.

As a fan of short films, it’s refreshing to see something like this come along – a film that fully completes itself and is straight forward and heart warming. As this is my second film of Niedenthal’s, it’s safe to say I’m quickly becoming a fan. To learn more about Zori, please visit their website (where you can also learn more about Maxter who sounds like an amazing child).