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Honoring the pioneer storytellers from the silent movies, director Daniel Stahl communicates visually most of the narrative. So, in the beginning he shows Sara watching a mother in the playground with her children – and this can have two meanings: Sara misses this tenderness that she has never experienced as a child, and she may wonder what a better mother she longs to be. Meanwhile, Monika is shown hesitating to leave her car – in fact, almost giving up to meet Sara after 20 years apart. But the most impactful use of the image comes near the end, when Sara stands up and her mother notices that she’s pregnant. For the story, this fact is crucial as it explains why Sara is now willing to reunite with her mother.

Written & Produced by: Daniel Stahl

The directing style is classic, with shot/reverse shot during the conversation. And it is also concise, as it uses an ellipse during the eating of the cake and a long distance shot so as to mute the conversation of the two protagonists after the reconciliation. Most importantly, the director obtains two super interpretations of both actresses Johanna Smitz and Mimmi Kandler.

In face of the contemporary trend of filming with shaken camera and including a vomit scene, easy resources to represent the state of mind of the characters, Safe Harbor is a comforting return to the classic cinema. 


Monika meets her daughter Sara for the first time in almost twenty years.

From the stablishing shots during the opening credits to the last scene filmed from a distance, the short movie Safe Harbor treats its theme with delicacy. This doesn’t mean that the story refrains from the confrontation that is in the core of its plot, but only that it takes place through a certain respectful distance. So, instead of a verbal battle, which also could be interesting, here we appreciate a mature process of accepting all bad things that happened in the past and moving forward from this moment on.

Cast: Johanna Smitz, Mimmi Kandler

It is interesting that the movie shows that the younger woman, Sara, in the story is the one who leads this process. The script does not waste time detailing what was the fault of her mother, Monika, while bringing up Sara. All we know is that she was negligent – and that is enough. It does not matter if she used to be an alcoholic or a drug user or something else. What is important is that she knows she’s guilty and Sara says some sharp lines to directly prevent her mother to defend herself. In this sense, it is ingenious to affirm that a mother can have a second chance, but the child does not.

Safe Harbor

2023, Sweden, 12 min

Directed by:  Daniel Stahl

Eduardo Kaneco

Film Critic, the founder of Leitura Filmica