Asia A, directed by Andrew Reid, is a story about finding hope after you have lost it completely. Reid suggests that we never truly know the meaning of hope until we have none. The short film follows Marquise, a college basketball athlete, who suffers a terrible injury. After undergoing the ASIA (American Spinal Injury Association) test, he is confronted with his new reality as a paraplegic struggling to reconcile his self worth with his diagnosis. Marquise finds himself unable to tell the difference between love and pity, as his best friend and girlfriend attempt to comfort him.
London Brown’s excellent acting as Marquise is manifested in his facial expressions that range from defeat to eventual determination. Even without the use of language, we understand his struggles and sympathise with his hopelessness. This is undoubtedly the result of great directing on Reid’s part as he brings realistic representation of a person with paralysis on screen. At the age of 21, while working in advertising in Cancun, Mexico, Reid became paralysed from the chest down. A malformation of his blood vessels resulted in a rupture which compressed his spine when he was sleeping – basically, he went to sleep in the evening, and woke up paralysed. Reid was told by doctors that he would never walk again but with dedication and perseverance regained movement – today he walks and continues to gain strength and health. His goal as a director is transparent in Asia A – to bring new and diverse perspectives to Hollywood that promote a culturally and socially progressive future for our society.
The conclusion of Asia A isn’t black and white, but instead suggests delicately and skilfully that if you lose your will, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. And it’s okay to lean on the people around you throughout your journey. A crucial role in getting this message across was played by the character of Noah (Pruitt Taylor Vince) who indirectly helped Marquise regain his hope. He reminded the protagonist about the importance of his loved ones in difficult times by telling him stories about his wife who never left his side. She was the manifestation of hope for Noah, even after her death. Vince’s character added a layer of lightheartedness to the otherwise somber tale.
Reid’s Asia A is powerful in its message and execution. It is not often that we see paraplegic characters brought to us by directors who are capable of giving them realistic features because of their personal experiences. I hope Andrew Reid continues in the same spirit, and I very much look forward to his future films.
Dir: Andrew Reid
Scr: Andrew Reid, Roberto Saieh
Cast: Pruitt Taylor Vince, London Brown, Elizabeth Keener
Prd: Eric Baird, Jake Katofsky
Music: Erick Del Aguila
DOP: Ante Cheng
Runtime: 20 minutes