From the mind of Evan Kidd comes a tale of loss, redemption and healing. Panda Bear It is a drama in which a man’s life spirals out of control in the face of sudden tragedy. Panda stars Damien Elliott Bynum Melissa Cowan, Kimberly Avery, Jeremias Hadley, Eric Hartley, Mary Miles Kokotek and Brigitte Moneybound Kelly. Besides serving as director, Kidd also wrote, produced, shot and edited this independent project.
Bynum plays Kamus, an MC who moonlights at a local convenience store/coffee shop. It’s clear in the opening scene, which takes place in a recording studio, that Kamus is out of it. His mood is more than just the result of having a bad day – Kamus is hurting inside. His pain is so severe that Kamus has regular conversations with a panda. The panda is a figment of Kamus’ imagination, but it’s obvious there are reasons why his imaginary companion is a bear.
Rumored to be made of a shoestring budget of just $1000, Panda serves as a tale of healing. Kamus is coping in ways many of us have used – eating our feelings (cheese balls is almost its own character as it gets plenty of screen time); staying in bed all day and night; listlessly playing video games; disinterested in both work and play; indifferent about our appearance. Kamus has isolated himself from everyone, including his family – which includes Grandma (Avery) and Marcus (Hadley); and his friend (and boss) Rhonda (Kelly). Kamus’ trauma has even affected his passion – rapping, as he can’t find the words to express himself.
Frustrated with all of it, Kamus isolates himself even further by camping out in the middle of nowhere. It’s here where Kamus experiences some trouble, but that trouble forges a path towards healing - with the help of a kind stranger (Hartley).
Panda Bear It is a passionate film that tells us it’s okay to grieve. At the same time, Panda encourages us to seek support – not doing so could result in terrible consequences. Kidd crafted a tale that likely manifested itself from personal experience - the pain of loss is evident throughout its 63-minute running time. But as the source of Kamus’ pain and suffering is revealed, that revelation also reminds him he’s not alone. Kamus can heal if he allows it and opens himself up to the people who love him.
Panda Bear It has a rough-cut look to it, but Kidd works with what’s available to him to provide a journey of introspection and healing. Kamus’ Panda is comparable to Donnie’s bunny in Donnie Darko, or more recently Jojo and his buddy, Adolph Hitler (2019’s Jojo Rabbit). But Panda lines up best with Elwood P. Dowd and his six-foot tall rabbit friend in 1950’s Harvey. The panda has deep meaning to Kamus and serves as a reminder for the heartbroken rapper.
Panda Bear It is a worthwhile look at loss and being brave enough to seek help. Kidd’s feature asks its viewers to not be afraid to talk about your feelings, good or bad, and to reach out whenever you need help and feel lonely. Those are great messages to see coming from such tiny film.
Panda Bear It is currently available on Amazon Prime.
3.5 stars out of 5