Fantasia Film Festival Interview + Review: Baby, Don’t Cry (2021)

The interview

I was able to talk with the team behind Baby, Don’t Cry, which is currently playing at the Fantasia Film Festival. I spoke with the film’s writer and star Zita Bai as Baby (and who is pictured in the featured image), Vas Provatakis who plays Fox, as well as two of the film’s producers Zeron Zhao and Qiyu Zhou.

In the conversation, we talk about the film being set in Seattle, similarities in the character to Zita who stars as Baby, what it was like working with the director, how everyone got on board the project and more in between. You can watch the interview directly below on YouTube (or listen to the episode at the bottom of this post or download it here). As well, find my review of the film directly below, too.

Baby, Don’t Cry plays again on Friday, August 13 at 9 a.m. and you can find tickets for that screening right here (for Canadian residents as the festival is geo-blocked to Canada).

The review

Directed by Jesse Dvorak. Written by Zita Bai. Starring Zita Bai, Vas Provatakis, Boni Mata. Runtime 1h 30 min. This film had its World Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on August 11.

I love the coming-of-age subgenre and the variety of stories that can be told through it, with everything from the films of John Hughes, to Edge of Seventeen. The genre let’s unique films like Jesse Dvorak’s Baby, Don’t Cry exist with its experimental sensibilities and unique atmosphere.

The film, set in Seattle, centred around a 17-year-old shy and sheltered Chinese immigrant, Baby (Zita Bai, who also writes the film) as she makes unique films and dreams of leaving her home life. Enter 20-year-old delinquent Fox (Vas Provatakis), who starts a romance with Baby that seems to only be able to better her existence.

Like other coming-of-age films, too, the emphasis of the entertainment with this film is on the vibes and its character growth more-so than a plot with big cinematic beats. It’s cinematic because of its fantasy aspects, as the film finds a mix between the reality and fantasy. Characters like Baby’s mother (Helen Sun) are a bit strange as she has pig ears that appear to represent the family’s otherness of being immigrants.

Screen Shot 2021-06-20 at 11.22.15 AM
Vas Provatakis as Fox and Zita Bai as Baby in Baby, Don’t Cry. (Courtesy of Fantasia.)

The story is sometimes bizarre with these elements, and at times it’s never always clear what parallels Zita Bai’s script and Jesse Dvorak is trying to get across. I think I enjoyed the two core performances by Zita Bai and Vas Provatakis more so than their characters themselves. I felt their emotions; even if I never always got their character motivations.

Baby’s a strange, layered person, where her DIY films reveal what she thinks about the world, like when she films two people talking and she people watches, imagining what might be happening in their lives. Baby seems content to analyze people before herself; so perhaps that is why Baby seems to know herself better than we get to know her.

As well, much of the development is told through that lens of symbolism that makes certain things admittedly more vague than expository. (I am glad I was able to speak with the team and get a better idea of all these themes within the film, especially learning more about the fantasy elements.)

One big highlight of the film is the romance between Baby and Fox as it’s such a great pairing. It’s as much about Baby’s sexual awakening as coming-of-age, and there’s some imagery in these scenes that might be off-putting to some as the filmmakers don’t shy away from certain aspects. It’s also intriguing how animalistic these scenes are, in terms of the sexuality and in terms of jealousy. There’s power in these moments, and the pair’s chemistry shines so much through the unique romance that Baby, Don’t Cry is worth the watch for that alone.

Score: 63/100

Again, find the link for tickets for the film’s encore screening on August 13 at 9 a.m. right here.

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