Films built around a single, easy-to-understand message are tough to pull off—if you can summarize a piece of art in a single sentence, then all you really need is the sentence, not the art. In a way, Aster Pang’s second-year film It’s Not That Serious, Dude comes down to one thought: Don’t overthink it. As Aster says in the synopsis, “chill tf out.”

But It’s Not That Serious, Dude doesn’t just preach; it forces you to empathize through the sinister lighting and claustrophobic angles—it embodies anxiety even as it’s convincing you to get over it. That’s something many established filmmakers can’t seem to master, so seeing it handled so well in a student film is very impressive.

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