Oscar-nominated ‘Please Hold’ Is More Disturbing Than the Best ‘Black Mirror’ Episodes

in Culture

In 1914, the Czech author Franz Kafka wrote a novel titled The Trial. Published against Kafka’s wishes following his untimely death ten years later, the book technically classifies as a crime story, albeit one totally unlike any other. It tells the story of Josef K., a cashier who—one unsuspecting morning—is arrested without ever receiving a proper explanation why.

The accusation baffles K., as he has no knowledge of ever breaking the law. What’s more, the government agencies that persecute him refuse to tell him what exactly he did wrong, no matter how many times he asks. The novel, which Kafka fittingly never finished, follows an increasingly despairing K. as he is tossed around by an indifferent and seemingly absurd justice system. 

Kafka’s writing left a huge influence on generations of writers and artists, who felt that his nightmarish novels anticipated and captured the direction in which modern society is headed. Most recently, Mexican-American screenwriter and filmmaker K.D. Dávila took inspiration from The Trial when creating her Oscar-nominated short Please Hold. 

The Arrest of Mateo T. 

Please Hold, which is now available on HBO Max, takes place in the not-so-distant future. Mateo Torres is on his way to work when a police drone flies up to inform him that he has been arrested for an undisclosed crime he knows nothing about, and that he will be subjected to “non-lethal” force if he refuses to turn himself in.

After putting on handcuffs, Mateo is taken to a fully-automated holding cell, where an interactive screen—his only form of communication with the outside world—informs him that he has less than a 20% chance of winning his trial and that he will be sentenced to 45 years in prison unless he pleads guilty, which would reduce the sentence to between 5 …

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Author: Tim Brinkhof / High Times

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