Bibi at Cinequest Film Festival

Synopsis: A gripping psychological thriller that takes viewers through the depths of grief and its impact on mental health. Vivian Ashwood, a woman haunted by tragedy, spirals into an abyss of prescription medication and alcohol as she desperately tries to cope. Her world unravels when a mysterious figure appears in her home, blurring the lines between nightmare and reality. As Vivian’s perception becomes distorted, she must confront her darkest fears, pushing the boundaries of sanity. This suspenseful tale explores the fragile nature of the human psyche and the harrowing consequences of unresolved grief.

Writer/Director Christopher Beatty has created a dramatic psychological thriller feature film – the story of a woman, Vivian Ashwood (Elizabeth Paige, excellent performance), who is going through deep grief that the audience learns has lasted most of her lifetime after a tragic loss during her childhood. Her grief has led her (and others) to question what reality is when she remains living inside a vast mansion. The audience views Vivian talking with someone, then later, that someone becomes questionable. The screenwriter does not provide easy answers as to who exists, who is made up, and who Vivian wishes still lives. Wait until the end, as no spoilers will resolve those questions. This is one filmmaker to watch for his subsequent productions, as this thriller shows his talent for storytelling.

There are flashbacks provided in the film to establish that her childhood was happy alongside her sister Ava (Rowen Castro), but ultimately not in the household. Their father (Mr. Ashwood, portrayed by Logan Hunter) was rigorous during mealtimes. It is not spelled out, but the implication is he is also physically abusive – the girls deciding to “take turns.” There is also a significant time spent on a merry-go-round figurine with music, and soon after, the viewer can see some significance in her life. This also can symbolize her inability to escape what she feels cycles and exit from this ride.

Vivian believes she has a daughter, Bibi (Judith Ann DiMinni), and tries to keep a routine. Still, we often see Vivian is incapable except always dressing up makeup ready and yet not going anywhere except to reach for another glass of her favorite bubbly. She has Dr. Grayson (Rick Zahn) on call – she doesn’t even leave home for an appointment and dismisses him if she can’t get what she wants. A family friend, Nancy (Tammy Blanchard), offers help, but Vivian rejects her in a judgmental manner. Blanchard is outstanding in her role, which Vivian perceives negatively, but Tammy knows things.

Cinematography: John W Rutland; Music By: John Paesano; Editor: Benjamin J Murray

Bibi made its World Premiere at the DANCES WITH FILMS 2023 Film Festival, then screened at the ongoing Cinequest Film Festival this month. Runtime (minutes): 95 BIBI is scheduled to be shown at the upcoming Catalina Film Festival.

Source: Cinequest and Dances with Films festivals

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