“Night Ride” is an Oscar-nominated short film set in wintery Norway. It explores pertinent issues including transphobia and the bystander effect.

Night Ride
Credit: Cylinder Production AS

On a snowy night at a quiet tram stop, a young woman named Ebba shivers, eagerly waiting for her ride home. She asks the tram driver whether she can get on the tram early. He says she has to wait. She doesn’t take no for an answer. She hops onto the tram and by complete accident, begins to drive it.

On her way home, she picks up some passengers, including two young men and a trans woman named Ariel. One of the men starts to flirt with Ariel, only to discover that her hair is a wig. To his complete disgust, he begins to harass and insult her. His friend joins in, leading her to ask the other passengers for help.

Nothing. They do nothing.

Then she asks Ebba the driver. She closes the curtain behind her.

The Bystander Effect

Director Eirik Tveiten describes the bystander effect as,

“Where if one person doesn’t take a stand, those around them wait for someone else to act first, often leaving it too late”.

The tram passengers are all too afraid to stand up for Ariel, maybe due to the risk of becoming involved in the conflict, or maybe out of pure laziness. Ebba is in a particularly vulnerable situation as she is a little person. If she spoke up, she could also face harassment.

However, the power of humanity wins. She stops the tram. The men demand her to keep driving. She threatens them, saying she won’t continue until they stop harassing Ariel. They refuse to give in. Ebba distracts them and both women escape the tram.

Night Ride
Credit: Vegard Lansverk

The most touching moment of the film is when Ariel reveals her lush blonde head of hair that hid under her wig. Her beauty stuns the screen. Ebba proceeds to put Ariel’s wig on. They share a pained laugh. The audience sits in the stillness with them, admiring this simple, yet beautiful act of solidarity.  Two victims of discrimination, finding comfort in each other’s suffering.

Producer Heidi Arnesen claims that “Night Ride” doesn’t just expose transphobia for the horror that it is, but also demonstrates the power of speaking up. In a world full of bad people, humans have a responsibility to protect one another. It takes a great deal of courage to compromise your safety for another’s. Tveiten encourages his audience to take that leap of faith. Because you just might save someone’s life.

“Night Ride” has already won several awards, including best narrative short at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Check out the trailer, below:

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