The Cocktail Party: Martial Arts Mayhem with Director Jessica Sanders

How does a filmmaker tell a story in four minutes with no dialogue? That’s a question every director should answer at some point, and it’s a task no less that Jessica Sanders aimed to complete with her latest expeimental action comedy short, The Cocktail Party, which has already garnered several awards following its Tribeca premiere last year.

Sanders co-wrote the short with actress and martial artist Charlotte Taschen who takes the dialogue-less wheel as a waitress at a posh cocktail party, brimming with snobbish and rude socialites (Dugan O’Neal, Bijan Shaw, Robert Paul Taylor), underhanded looters (Ali Yuman, Christian Howard), a charming pianist (Brandon Coleman), a beautiful dancing muse (Eugenia Yuan) to ornament whatever the occasion is, and a hard-as-nails head chef with a pugilistic nature (Jen Kuo Sung).

Host to cinematography by Larkin Seiple (Everything Everywhere All At Once), with fight scenery by Jake Huang (upcoming Weird: The Al Yankovic Story) and music by Pedro Bromfman, composer Carlos Lazzari and co-star Coleman, Sanders’ The Cocktail Party is several parts comedy and kung fu with a brilliant summary on what it’s like working in the service industry. The addition of martial arts action certainly adds to the spectacle, with Huang’s work eliciting clean, entertaining performances by the cast. Furthermore, for anyone new to Taschen as I am, it really is refreshing to see a potential new face of cinematic screenfighting in the arena.

To that end, The Cocktail Party also etches in a hearty and insightful little message about humanity that easily connects for anyone who’s ever waited tables, worked as a cashier, taken calls or served customers in any venue, drove an Uber or even rode mass transit in a major city, and there’s plenty to dive into when it comes to that message – themes like “kindness” and “doing better” come to mind. Taschen carries that message well through her own charisma and screen caliber, making Sanders’ The Cocktail Party a welcome showcase for anyone attending.