What: Laps, an intense short film about an all-too-common trauma that women who live in metropolitan areas face.
Who: Filmmaker Charlotte Wells.
Why we care: It’s fitting that this film starts underwater. Laps makes a New York City subway seem like a claustrophobic torture chamber that induces the feeling of drowning. Appendages invade all standing space, possibly at eye level, trapping travelers like prey. After our nameless protagonist finishes a swim, she boards a subway and is promptly pinned in place by a man with no boundaries. One might think a crowded subway would make sexual assault prohibitive, what with so many witnesses, but Laps illuminates how the crowding is conducive to “accidental” touch. Viewers can only imagine the horror of going through what this character does, while seeing all these witnesses not doing anything because they don’t know. It’s an unfortunately timely plight she’s in, given that this week’s Harvey Weinstein revelations have inspired some victim-blaming. Why didn’t they speak out sooner, why don’t they fight back? This film shows a woman considering these options in real time. Obviously, the better question to ask is: Why should she be in a position where she has to make such a decision? Laps has an unnerving way of demonstrating one of the many reasons why simply being a woman is a constant minefield.