NYIFF - The Shepherd (2018) - Reviewed

Change is a difficult concept.  Be it mundane or even supernatural, artists have explored the consequences of evolution across endless mediums.  When coupled with isolation, transformation can be a terrifying experience.  Natalie Vinciguerra's stunning stop motion short, The Shepherd, explores this idea by presenting the story of a shepherd grappling with the reality of becoming a werewolf and the consequences this affliction will have for his flock of loyal sheep.

One of the most striking attributes of this picture is in how it uses its religious origins as a springboard to dig into the heart of its character's plight.  Paternal instinct, responsibility, and the nobility of sacrifice swirl within every beautifully rendered frame.  The final result is a poignant story, that upon conclusion reveals itself as a multilayered passion play.  There's a nobility to laying down one's life in protection of others, however doubt and fear are players in the scenario and The Shepherd's subtle way of handling this is masterful.


The animation is both gritty and tranquil.  There are elegant scenes of primal violence stitched in between quiet moments of contemplation, and the juxtaposition creates a magnificent foundation for the allegory at the center.  This is accentuated by a washed-out color palette that ehances the sorrowful undercurrent. 

Debuting yesterday at the New York Independent Film Festival, Natalie Vinciguerra's stunning stop motion short The Shepherd is not to be missed.  Blending horror and the divine, the final result is a stunning exploration of terror, loss, and ultimately courage. 

--Kyle Jonathan