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Written and Directed by Joseph Mazello

Reviewed by Daniel Chia

Last night, I watched a film that moved me to tears.

What was so remarkable about that was this film was only 31 minutes long, and is the directorial debut of none other than Joseph Mazello, whom we saw grow up in films such as Jurassic Park, The Cure and Simon Birch.

Matters of Life and Death, directed by Joseph Mazello from his own screenplay, is the story about 3 siblings, David, Jon and Emily, who must cope in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy.

In just 31 short minutes, Joseph Mazello tells a compelling story that is astonishing in depth and truly relevant to our times. From the opening voiceover, set against a pitch dark screen, to its final heartrending scene, Matters of the Life and Death grabs your attention and never lets it drop.

Joseph Mazello's screenplay is beautifully written, taut with realistic dialogue and its final scene, not quite a twist, but a final , emotionally charged revelation that is bound to bring a tear to the hardest of hearts, feels perfectly right and emotionally carthartic. It is to Mazello's credit that under his sure hand of direction, the film never descends to schmaltz, but remains real in its emotions.

The acting is superb. Rachel Leigh Cook as the oldest child and Nick Heyman as 17 year old Jon are believable , but it is Joseph Mazello as David who anchors the film with deep pathos and nuance. I dare you to watch Joseph Mazello's performance in this film without feeling moved. He is superb.

Filmed in widescreen and lensed by Mark Parry, the cinematography is gorgeous and the film beautifully lit.

Matters of Life and Death is a tremendous directing debut for Joseph Mazella. Mazello fought hard to get this film made, and it is obviously a labour of love for him. Part of the film was financed by Mazello's fans, who were given the privilege to show their support for the Mazello and for his directing debut by donating funds to the making of the film.

Matters of Life and Death has been shown at many film festivals across America in the past few months, and was honored with the Directorial Discovery Award after its recent showing at the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF). Each year, the RIIFF panel of judges selects one director that shows the most promising new directing talent. Mazzello beat out all other films - both short and feature length - to win this prestigious award.

The film will be made available on DVD for sale very soon. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this wonderful film on DVD, and am still reeling from seeing the film. I cannot recommend this film to you enough, and as soon as you have the opportunity to purchase the DVD, do it, because you will be deeply moved by this powerful short film. For news about the DVD release, check out :

As for Joseph Mazello, I will be watching his directing career with great interest, and if ever I am given the privilege to help him get another film up on screen, I will not hesitate at all to help out in whatever way I can. That's how much I respect and believe in Joseph Mazella.

Matters of Life and Death has just made me even more confident of that ...


© 2007