Our First Priority (2022)

Director: Ariel Baska

Running Time: 10 Minutes

Starring: Violet Gotcher, Lori Hovermade, Jamie Kirsten Howard, Benjamin Frankenberg

As a way of bookending the film, focus is put on the slogan for a medical centre which reads "Where your care is our first priority". What's intended as a hopeful message to put visitors at ease is a total facade, ringing hollow for those seeking help from the medical practitioners.

One patient receiving such facile care is Hannah (Violet Gotcher), a young girl accompanied by an understandably angry older woman (Jamie Kirsten Howard). To emphasise what the girl is experiencing, her various symptoms have been jotted onto a list so the doctor can understand, although he's clearly disinterested. Gotcher and Howard terrifically convey their characters frustrations regarding the doctors passivity, as he quickly dismisses Hannah's experiences as psychological.

It's heartbreaking to see reality ignored by the medical staff, falling back on the term "white coat syndrome" instead of trying to understand their patient's experiences. When the doctor could potentially change things by filling out a form, that glimmer of hope is snuffed out as he gets ready to push her aside and see another patient. The chance arrives for the doctor to see Hannah as a person, and it's distressing that he willfully ignores it.

What writer/director Ariel Baska has crafted feels born from a very real rage, as the mistreatment of vulnerable populations leaves people with chronic illness and disabilities to be viewed as mere boxes to tick. A necessary light is shone on this medical gaslighting that's unfortunately very common within the disability community, while delivering a neon-lit rage that may provide catharsis for those who've been where Hannah is. The ending dedicates this short to "all the loved ones we've lost to medical bias", and that's felt in this 10-minute short.

Our Final Girls has its World Premiere at Final Girls Berlin, available online and at City Kino Wedding.