by Patrick Bromley
"The Shadow Scarf," essentially a two-character chamber drama starring Clay Von Carlowitz alongside his real-life wife Asta Paredes, is a short film very much of this cultural moment. It's a story about personal responsibility -- about the need for people, particularly men, to do more than bear witness at the ugliness around us all the time. It's spare and haunting, dreamy in the way it examines the sins of yesterday being revisited upon us in the present.
Full disclosure: I first met Von Carlowitz and Paredes back in 2013 when I was covering Return to Nuke 'Em High Vol. 1, in which they both starred. We have remained in contact ever since and I consider them friends. But I also consider myself a fan, and have always admired their commitment to creating art any way they can, whether it's roles in indie genre movies like Sociopathia and My Bloody Banjo or Kickstarting their own stage production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, which they produced and starred in together. I love the way they support one another and find ways to work together, just as they do in "The Shadow Scarf." They're real artists making a go of it for all the right reasons, and that endears them to me greatly. That they're a great couple and so in love only endears them to me more.
The story is this: it's a cold and foggy night in New York City. Jeffrey (Von Carlowitz) is closing up the bar where he works. Into the bar enters Aurora (Paredes), who asks for just one drink. She and Jeffrey get to talking. He likes her. She performs a song, and his "like" goes to "entranced." Then they talk some more, and it gradually becomes clear that Aurora may not be exactly who she is pretending to be. Neither is Jeffrey, for that matter.
At roughly 20 minutes, "The Shadow Scarf" takes its time revealing information. Von Carlowitz wants to put us in a trance before he drops the hammer, which, to be fair, never exactly drops -- it's more gradually lowered until the dark implications of the final line of dialogue knocks us over. Giving time over to an entire musical performance inside of the short film format may seem indulgent or less than economical, but the sequence is so haunting and lovely that it becomes necessary. This is Aurora casting her spell, and what follows works all the better because we, like Jeffrey, are hypnotized.