Identity is an award-winning short film by KJ Adams. The short film criticizes the dominant cultural norms of identity and the self, and beautifully stylized, suggests we be ourselves instead of try to conform to those  norms.

Although the use of masks is a tad literal, I found it interesting nonetheless. Everyone wears a mask – even the teachers (or maybe especially the teachers). The main character, the girl, already wears a special, Venetian styled, mask, and eventually takes it off because it broke, causing quite a stir.

The chronology of the film is a bit ambiguous, as it starts and ends at the same moment. Some parts are played backwards, some aren’t (for as far as I could tell). It looks nice but doesn’t necesarily add to the message in my opinion – or do you disagree? It felt a bit gimmicky to me.

source: KJ Adams

source: KJ Adams

I also wanted to point out what happens at 2:30. A girl approaches a group and takes off a mask to reveal another – this is a great observation of the fact that people have multiple “selves”, and show different parts of their selves depending on who or which group of people they are with.

While the message of this short is commendable, I don’t think it’ll have any real effect. Everyone knows you should be yourself, but rarely anyone does it. In psychology it’s an accepted theory that it’s part of human group behavior to behave differently with different people. It’s just how our brains are wired, and moreover, we  humans are way too susceptible and sensitive to outside values and norms in our wish to “belong” to actually “be ourselves”. I do think we often forget, though, that “being yourself” is a cultural construct on its own and has its own meanings and societal expectations. So what is the self? Does it even exist outside of culture or society?

About The Author

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Manon is a 24 year old Dutchie located in Perth, Australia and is passionate about film and writing. She is a Global Criminology MA - her thesis discussed developments in law enforcement and punishment with the use of dystopian science fiction films. She enjoyed this so much she is continuing the critical discussion of themes of movies here on The Movie Scrutineer! She also contributes articles frequently to