2003 Festival – The 10th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival

EX-VOTOS Todd Verow Feature 80:00 Video 2003 WORLD PREMIERE DV autuer Todd Verow uses this film to ask the question, “How much can you leave behind to get ahead?” It is through the character’s experiences in these four vignettes that the audience is left to ponder whether anything was gained by that which was lost as the sacrificial offerings of each character progressively lead to more internal suffering. Ex-Votos follows four stories; each dealing with the interactions of two characters, into increasingly pathetic and apathetic lives. The first story examines the relationship between a girl unable to settle down and her girlfriend, a woman who has finally stopped running and is ready to stay in Chicago. Their relationship dissolves over the first girl’s need to be free, but she is rewarded with that which she thinks she needs. The second story explores the relationship between a woman who has recently decided to end her marriage of 34 years and her estranged daughter, a struggling actress in LA. The process of fighting and attempted reconciliations between this mother and daughter investigates the desires to become one’s own person at the expense of breaking the bonds with one’s family. Verow then presents us with a gay couple who, although they may never have and certainly no longer do love each other, are celebrating their tenth anniversary by acting out increasingly violent ways in which they could end their relationship. Their refusal to deal with the reality of staying together out of a lack of energy to find something new drives Ex-Votos into a further progression into apathetic sacrifices of one’s life. In the final vignette, a retired and delusional B-movie actress celebrates her birthday at her hotel/apartment complex in the midst of troubles opening a suitcase containing all of her possessions. She attempts to befriend a musician from New Jersey whose boyfriend has just abandoned her, leaving behind his guitar, but not enough money for her to get home. Verow calls into question the worth of the sacrificial offerings of each person in these stories, as their lives become progressively more pathetic as their efforts at happiness diminish. This carefully crafted, yet largely impromptu narrative, draws stark parallels between these disparate characters as each progressive story bears the scars of decisions made in the character’s past which resemble vignettes coming before them. By the time Verow shows us the demise of the movie actress, all previous characters’ futures can be seen in her fall.