Conversations with Award-Winning Filmmakers

This year’s festival features three award-winning short films, each of which has garnered first place recognition in three local contests.  These films are engaging, smart and come from the studios of astute and quick-witted filmmakers.  I was able to interview these filmmakers and got an inside look into their films.  I learned about their inspiration for these films, how they got their starts in film and what makes a successful film.

Joel David Santer is the writer and director of Mirror Image, a film that follows a man, Aaron, and his very animated reflection in the mirror.  The film also holds the distinction as the winner of the 2011 DC Shorts Screenplay Contest.  Santer is a DC local, who works as a writer, director and actor.  A part of his inspiration for the film was the fact that “Americans work too much;” a debate Aaron and his reflection have in the mirror.  Santer sought out to depict this qualm in a “humorous and surreal way” and did so successfully.  He credits acting as his first found passion in the arts, and discovered playwriting in his early years as an undergrad at Hanover College in Indiana.  Mirror Image, in fact, was conceived as a play, one, which would have been “an ambitious undertaking,” Santer concedes.  The project’s incompatibility for the stage had to do with Santer’s vision of a single actor playing both “roles”—a performance perhaps only feasible on screen.  Santer discloses, “I didn’t know how I was going to pull it [the film] off,” yet that made it all the more “inspiring and challenging.”  Santer’s challenge took a mere five days to shoot, yet he was left with three months of editing, not surprising with the abstraction of the film.

Santer’s finished product is an entertaining one-man show, as Aaron and his reflection throw back-to-back quips and debate some of life’s humdrum frustrations.

 

 

Advancing Age, a comedy-horror short was made by Austin Bragg as part of the Washington, DC: 48 Hour Film Project.  Bragg creates and stars in the film, about a man who is haunted by a balloon on his 30th birthday.  Bragg was deftly able to implement his comedic background into the short after “horror/thriller” was assigned as the genre.  When asked what was his inspiration for Advancing Age he told me, “Advancing Age was made as part of the Washington, DC 48 Hour Film Festival, so the biggest inspiration was being told ‘Your genre is horror/thriller.’  We’re most at home with comedy, so it started as a discussion of innocuous things to feel threatened by.  Once the visual was in my head, we were off and running.”

 

 

Bragg faced some hindrances when making the film, coupled by the fact that he and his team had no more than two days to make the film.

He says, “There are always challenges during a 48 Hour Film Project, the most obvious being time.  Beyond that, our camera was stolen four days prior, and we had to scramble to find a replacement.  As time really began to slip away, we were forced to pare back our ambitious ending and make a number of script changes on the fly – trying to maintain a cohesive story while frantically cutting scenes was a challenge.”

Bragg certainly seemed to overcome all difficulties faced in those 48 hours, and attributes the film’s success with the same self-deprecating humor he employs in his film; “I suppose I could talk about the universal fear of aging and the juxtaposition of horror and comedy, but I think people just like watching me suffer.”

The final contest winner appearing in the festival is Mary McGrory with The McGrory Clan; the winner of the Phillips Collection Home Movie Contest.  McGrory’s film takes a 3-minute snapshot of her own family’s daily life and customs; the 3 minutes we see on screen were edited from a week’s worth of footage.  McGrory comes from a photojournalism and multimedia background, which makes her more comfortable with a documentary style of shooting.  “It is difficult for me to ask someone to do or re-do something. In journalism, you would never ask someone to ‘pick up that cookie’ or  ‘look more distraught’, I feel like I am breaking the rules when I direct.”  It is no surprise that The McGrory Clan possesses this documentary style of filming, which also serves to enhance the intimacy in the film.  McGrory attributes the success of her film to its candidness and relatable material.

 

 

“I think it’s pretty raw and honest. It really is what it was meant to be, a snapshot into one family’s life for a short period of time. This family, in my humble opinion, happens to be pretty great. The topic, what its like to come home after being gone for a period of time, and the way you connect to your family through food and family meals, I think is also pretty relatable.”

Santer, Bragg and McGrory each faced their own set of challenges, notably editing and/or time restraints, yet they share a common thread of success, resilience and impressive filmmaking chops.  All of the films present material that an audience is able to empathize with, which makes the films that much more impressive and compelling.

By:  Hadley Fielding

Showcase 13: Shrewd Storytellers

Showcase 13 brings together a group of bona fide storytellers who exercise a variety of techniques in their creation of eight refreshingly original films.  These filmmakers have exerted conscientiousness, scrutiny and shrewdness to make films that are exemplary of piquant short filmmaking.  Whether depicting nonfiction, remaking another’s work, satirizing or employing a narrator, each of these films bears a distinct approach to storytelling, yet all are equally pithy and compelling.

 

 

What would you do if you could see your future, or meet them?  In The Future, a film by Venetia Taylor, a man’s wish is manifested soon after getting engaged.  To his dismay life is not without strife and tribulations down the road.  Casted with unbridled dark humor, this is a film that sheds light on a question that throws all of us off balance at some point in our lives.

 

 

Waiting on a Train, a film by David Joyce, immediately emanates an air of uncertainty as a man waits in anxious anticipation at a train station, intermittently smoking cigarettes and checking his antiquated pocket watch as he waits for a train to arrive.  The man’s dress suggests he is from a former time, yet passengers departing the train are attired in contemporary clothing.  There is something peculiar and unearthly about the scene, and in a heart-rending twist the man is beset with the oversights of his past.

 

Tiny Miny Magic, a film by Danielle Lurie, depicts a woman who is seemingly infatuated with her mailman, thus prompting her to pursue a series of exchanges with him via her mailbox.  She grows quite enamored by this mystery man, and as they share personal mementos to one another he reveals himself.  The atmospheric cinematography has a hand-held camcorder feel which helps to underscore the film’s intimacy.

 

 

The Windmill Farmer, created by Joaquin Baldwin, depicts a fictional story of an animated farmer who grows windmills.  The farmer faces adversity when harsh weather patterns destroy his windmill farm, however, there is always a rainbow somewhere after a storm.  This film will leave the audience with a gush of optimism with its heartening message.

 

After tragedy strikes a family, the youngest son, Antonio, looks for remnants of his father in Retrato De Una Familia (Portrait of a Family).  Victoria Rivera, the film’s director, presents an implicit storyline and dialogue, which sketches a portrait of a broken family.  While the film is imbued with a series of unanswered questions, some semblance of reparation seems to be realized in the end.

 

Mike Douglas creates Freedom Chair, a touching and inspiring documentary about Para Olympian Josh Dueck.  Dueck, who became paralyzed in 2004 at the age of 23, by means of a freak ski accident has since been confined to a wheelchair.  However, his passion for skiing has proved to transcend his disability.  With his unwavering resilience he has been able to rediscover freedom on the slopes.

 

 

Polish-Canadian filmmaker, Basia Gosczynska, creates an eerie animated short based on a 19th century fable by Józef Ignacy Kraszewskiego titled Dziad i Baba (The Old Man and the Old Woman)Gosczynska employs a stop-motion animation style that is unusual, engrossing and elucidates her brilliance as an artist.  The short so eloquently depicts the age-old fear of death and the loneliness faced when loosing a loved one.

 

 

Say it Ain’t Solo is a hilarious film by Marc Brener, which jabs a bit of fun at Hollywood when a father (Stephen Tobolowsky) and son (Josh Brener) are appalled at news that the original Star Wars trilogy is to be remade.  The duo is committed to ensure no such films are made, and seek out to form a petition against the production.  Christopher Lloyd makes a second appearance in the festival with a cameo performance.  The film also features cameo performances from Malin Akerman, Jason Alexander, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Joe Mantegna.

 

By:  Hadley Fielding

Showcase 11: Confronting Conflict

Each of these films possesses the key ingredient to spellbinding storytelling: conflict, and high-stakes conflict at that!  The broad cast of characters that make up these seven shorts face internal conflict, some acrid altercations with their adversaries, while some must deal with some dicey external circumstance.  Depicted with humor, pathos, suspense and horror, these filmmakers convey and affirm that conflict facilitates a magnetic appeal to film and stories alike.

 

 

Graham Lester George writes and directs, Special Delivery, which lives up to its name.  The film centers on a seemingly unimposing mailman, who ends up in a precarious situation after his lit cigarette slips into a home’s mail slot.  He resorts to some frantic and bold measures to extinguish the flames, and all you can do is hope he rectifies his mistake.

 

 

Gerard Depardieu stars as a mourning widower in the French short, Grenhouille D’hiver (Winter Frog) directed by Slony Sow.  A French winemaker, Depardieu, is in a state of mourning at the recent loss of his wife.  Yet, he begins to find reparation for his heartache when he is visited by young Japanese tourist.  While a solemn film, the story is thoughtful and heartfelt, and also features the beautiful backdrop of the French countryside.

 

 

Mirror Image, Director Joel David Santer’s comedic short, is featured in this year’s festival as the winner of the 2011 DC Shorts Screenplay Competition.  The film follows a man and his daily conversations with his very animated reflection in the mirror.  This “one man” show not only entertains, but also provides witty commentary on the relationship between “the self” that is presented to the public and “the know-it-all” that lives in inside one’s head. Usually called our conscience, the nattering, nagging voice with a life of its own makes this film universally compelling.

 

Laura Green directs a poignant and inspiring documentary about a group of young women from East Palo Alto, CA who form a female rugby team, in Lady Razorbacks.  Living in an impoverished area with high crime, these women face daily struggles and have grappled with familial heartaches.  Through personal interviews, the players reveal how rugby allows them to find a sense of release and empowerment, as they find fulfillment on the field.

 

Le Nid (The Nest), a short foreign film by French filmmaker, Aurélien Drach, depicts a vain actor’s consultation with a hair restoration specialist.  He is put in a state of utter vexation at the thought of developing a “nest” hairline, and his patience is undeniably tested.  Drach uses biting humor and arresting wit to create this noteworthy short film.

 

 

Canadian filmmaker Terrance Bernardo creates Chores, a film that renders stunning scenery as it depicts a young farmer secluded on a hinterland estate.  At the outset, the setting seems calm and tranquil, yet the film quickly takes a horrifying turn, as the solitary man meets some unexpected and spine-chilling company.  In omitting dialogue and muting his musical score, Bernardo portrays an ominous and haunting mood that heightens the tension in the film and will surely leave viewers palpably chilled.

 

Detras Del Espejo (Behind the Mirrors) is directed by Peruvian filmmaker, Julio O. Ramos.  The short centers around the workings of a sleazy motel after a guest is found murdered in her room.  The film brings mystery, drama and impending uncertainty, as the couple, who are in charge of the establishment while their employer is out of town, are left in state of peril and incertitude. The mirrors, intended to ensnare, end up implicating instead in this gripping short film.

 

Murgi Keno Mutant (Attack of the Killer Mutant Chickens) is a foreign animated short from Bangladesh, written and directed by Nayeem Mahbub.  In the short, kung-fu fighting chefs are put to the test against wild, killer mutant chickens.  Determined to keep them on the menu, head chef Masud, and his fellow huntsmen are faced in showdown against the flesh-eating poultry.  Mahbub creates a newfangled cast of characters and zany storyline in this imaginative and eccentric short.

By:  Hadley Fielding

Showcase 5: Obscurity Meets Innovation

The eight films that comprise Showcase 5 are arresting, captivating, obscure at times, and break convention.  Their filmmakers hail from around the globe, and there are sundry cultural and ethnic influences in the films.  You will find issues of moral consequence, cultural taboos and even life-and-death in these films that convey the innovation of their creators.

The Man at the Counter is a vivid memoir of a grown man who reflects on his summers as a teenager working as a barista at a local coffee shop.  As he contemplates the intriguing behavior of an old customer that has left a mark on him, the audience is reminded that it’s not the big things in life that create meaning but rather the small, personal interactions that we have with others.  The short was directed by Brian McAllister and written by Rebecca Sue Haber.

Seth Kourdy directs a sports documentary that depicts the passion of Arizona State University wrestlers and their head coach Shawn Charles in Sun Devil Tough.  The film documents the team’s participation in the 2011 NCAA tournament.  The team had its funding reduced in 2008 after budget cuts and recently made a major resurgence.

Argentinean director Juan Pablo Zaramella creates a short with both live-action and animated influences in Luminaris.  The film is sweet, original and remarkably creative.  Its ardent protagonist is an innovative thinker and creator just as its director proves to be in this one-of-a-kind short.

As a Chicago native, I was particularly intrigued by Nadav Kurtz’s documentary Paraíso (Paradise), a film about three Hispanic immigrants who are window washers of Chicago’s skyscrapers.  This line of work is not commonly thought about, yet it takes a great deal of courage and fortitude to rappel these 100 story buildings—a job which has cost some their lives.  In the film, these men contemplate the pros and cons of their work, from the light-hearted topic of people watching to the topic of death in a job that puts their lives on the line everyday.

Junior, a gripping drama directed by Jeffrey Elmont and written by Marcus Dúpree, will have you at the edge of your seat.  The short film depicts a deranged man who makes a zealous attempt to seek revenge on the detective that killed his son in a tragic accident.  The detective’s efforts to atone for his mistakes are put to the test as he and his own son are held at gunpoint.  The plot beckons another tragic lapse of judgment in this gripping short.

British director, Grant Orchard, introduces his own unique animation style and story line, in the original short A Morning Stroll.  An animated chicken stars in this obscure short divided into three parallel segments separated by 50 years.  The film seeks to contrast simplicity, modernity and the question of destruction in a film that yields many interpretations.

Carlo Ortu writes and directs the short black comedy titled The Last Man On Earth about a man who surmises himself to be the last living person on Earth.  The film’s sole character has not seen another living person in over five weeks after an enigmatic “event,” and he deduces that he is the last living person on Earth.  Unsettled by this thought, he makes a hasty decision as he confronts his dismal circumstances.

Rami Alayan’s short film, Private Sun, was filmed in the Palestinian Territories and tells the story of Mariam, a Muslim woman who attempts to ameliorate her vitamin D deficiency by sunbathing—not an accepted practice for Muslim women.  Mariam struggles as she faces disapproval for this from her imperious sister-in-law, and her husband who wants to avoid familial conflict.  She is thus forced to find creative ways to get her natural sun treatment, in a film that sheds light on cultural differences.

By:  Hadley Fielding

Showcase 4: A Little Bit of Everything

Showcase 4 brings a little bit of everything with its nine unique films.  This collection features animation, foreign language, comedy and documentary shorts that are poignant, memorable and at times laugh-out-loud funny.

British filmmaker Chris Connatty offers some quirky comedic relief in his short, Connected.  Despite its humorous approach, Connatty’s film offers commentary on the constantly linked-in nature of our digital age, when a man faces some “internal-wiring” difficulties after he parts ways with his cell phone.  Connatty introduces some thought-provoking subject matter in a way that’s entertaining and laudable.

Nonna si deve asciugare (Grandma Must Get Dry) is Alfredo Covelli’s witty, original short that satirizes the stereotypical Italian family.  After the elderly matriarch of the family passes, her family seeks to negotiate her will with an attorney as she left all of her assets to the public.  Her children are quick to point fingers at one another as verbal and physical quarrels ensue.  This film is entertaining, while still delivering a degree of warmhearted sentimentality.

Jonah Ansell directs a creative short, titled Cadaver, which uses a poetic rhyming scheme to depict the animated tale of a cadaver that comes alive!  This witty and original film brings fantasy, adventure and a bit of heart, no pun intended, as it documents a med student’s road trip with a back-to-life cadaverman as he seeks to reconnect with his widowed wife.  Christopher Lloyd voices the cadaver who looks more like your grandpa than a corpse,  Tavi Gevinson provides the voice-over for the med student and Kathy Bates makes a surprise cameo performance.

Baffle Their Minds with Bullsh*t, Kerry Leigh serves as the aberrant title of a documentary by Isabelle Carbonell.  The short takes a look into the colorful life of a New Orleans native who calls herself a “writer for hire,” a 26-year-old woman named Kerry Leigh.  Her current vocation consists of camping out nightly as a street performer of sorts with her vintage typewriter at her side.  She reflects on her eccentric and somewhat unstable life as an artist in this candid and amusing documentary.

Obake (Ghosts) is a beautiful Japanese film by Christopher Yogi set on the Hawaiian Islands.  It tells an unusual love story that flashes between a young man’s mysterious romance and an old man’s moments of reflection.  The film has an air of ambivalence that is probing and engaging, yet is solemn in a way that differs from the usual fear and apprehension found in most ghost stories.

Lindsay Lindenbaum’s documentary short, Look to the Cookie, takes a look at the famed, century old Glaser’s Bake Shop in Manhattan, NY.  As one of the few mom-and-pop, family-owned bakeries left in the area, its enduring success is quite impressive.  Lindenbaum conducts a personal interview with the now 3rd generation owner, and gets a special behind-the scenes look at the daily grind of a scratch bakery.

Abuelas (Grandmothers) is an inventive animated short by British filmmaker Afarin Eghbal.  Eghbal uses a distinctive animation style to tell a harrowing story documenting the historical events in the 1970’s, when a corrupt Argentinean military regime began a series of heinous crimes kidnapping pregnant Argentinean women.  The film is done in a way that’s creative and engaging despite the somber subject matter.  And, as we learn, familial love is not forgotten as hundreds of the country’s abuelas are unwavering in their search to find their long-lost grandchildren.

 Los Angeles filmmaker, Juan Marcio Migliorisi, creates a panoramic scene with the Pacific shore as its backdrop in Drowned; a comedic film about a woman’s failed attempt at a staged drowning.  The short, filmed on-location in Southern California, has limited dialogue, as Migliorisi uses a musical score to capture the film’s lightened tone.  The film’s appealing ambiguity gives the audience room for their own interpretation.

High Maintenance, a film by Shawn Wines, depicts a couple, Hank and Melissa, who are facing infertility struggles, which become heightened when Melissa’s mother moves in.  Hank thinks conception will be nearly impossible, until he pays a Latin hooker to take out his mother-in-law; trouble only begins there.  This hilarious, raunchy and laugh-out-loud film is sure to be a festival favorite.

By:  Hadley Fielding

Showcase 10: Mastering Humanity

An assorted collection of dramas, comedies and one documentary occupy Showcase 10. Several films from local directors meld with the works of cinema from Australia, Austria and Israel. It is our humanity that is put forth and questioned within these films. Beyond differences and assumptions there is a universal bond that is irrefutable. It is what we decide to do with that bond that defines us. The characters within these shorts are wholly human, created masterfully and delivered with ease.

Cockatoo, directed by Matthew Jenkin, is an eleven-minute comedy from Australia. A man attempts to cope with the six-month anniversary of a failed relationship by hiring a call girl to pretend to be the fiendishly fickle ex. If only she could get the damn British accent right! And who knew the ex would show up with a bit of surprise for the increasingly irritated man. With humor galore, it’s not hard to sit tight and genuinely enjoy this little treasure. The performances are the added cherry on top of this well-made short.

Two couples must choose between what they want and what they must accept in the 19-minute Austrian drama Hatch. Director Christoph Kuschnig merges complex and emotionally wrung situations in his short but unyielding film. The drama touches on issues of immigration and adoption with the use of multiple protagonists. The choices made by the characters are undeniably palpable. This short holds more emotion and feeling than most ninety-minute features.

Age is just a number. Irit is about to learn this for herself. In Negative, from first-time filmmaker Yoav Hornung, an older woman meets a young man and the chemistry is hard to dull down. The 16-minute Israel short celebrates the fluidity of human attraction and the necessity for all to embrace life fully. It’s not just the young who can delve head first into the warmth of human attraction. Celebrate age with this remarkably unique short.

MLK: A Living Legacy, a 9-minute documentary from local filmmaker Stephen Menick, shows the influence of the King on several prominent individuals. His legacy lives on through people of various races, creed and religions. He wanted to fight fire with water and by doing so ensured his voice would never be lost. As educational as it is inspiring, this film is the only documentary in the showcase making it all the more respectable.

The Funeral, directed by local filmmaker Colin Foster, is a thirteen-minute drama making its world premiere at the festival. A couples bond is tested when a conversation they have preparing for a funeral escalates. With moments of unexpected humor and fast-paced witty dialogue, the short demands a respect from the viewer, one it will undoubtedly receive.

First-time filmmaker Jessica Robinson created Cookies after only a week of camera lessons. What became of those lessons is the exceptionally delightful comedy making its world premiere at the festival. Sharing is caring, especially with cookies. But be careful what assumptions you make. The cleverly designed space of the film shows its lack of budget but obvious show of passion for film. Audiences will enjoy the little twist at the end.

Crossing is an eighteen-minute drama from director Gina Atwater. Follow 15-year-old Moses as he deals with rural life in 1965 Georgia. The film is graceful in its portrayal of a close-knit family dealing with racism and the young boy who wants to do something about it. His rebellion is not hard to sympathize with. There are moments of genuine horror and painful circumstances that only the successful storyteller can create; Atwater proves with this film that she is one of them.

By: Shilah Alibakhshi

Showcase 9: Highlighting the Actor

Romance, comedy, drama; what more could you ask for? Showcase 9 is an eccentric collection of shorts with excellent performances. With a charming documentary and various shorts involving young actors, you’ll applaud the stunning films within this collection.

Cart, a 7-minute film from writer and director Brian Yung, makes you rethink abandoning a shopping cart the next time you go shopping. This hilarious short brings drama and revenge to the heart of a couple unsatisfied shopping carts. It’s a fun little film for anyone curious about how discarded carts really feel.

In July, NPR’s “On Point” nationally-broadcasted program featured Chase in an hour-long segment about youth dealing with loss. A story in The Huffington Post reviewed “Chase” alongside the feature film “50/50” as examples of art dealing with friendship and hardship. A young woman must cope with the changes of her ill friend while remembering their past. The film is based on true events and brought to the screen beautifully by co-directors Rachel Kopilow and Jacqueline Reyn.

Coming out of the closet is never easy. Afterwards, a huge sigh of relief should resonate and your clutch on self-identity should be cemented. That is not necessarily always the case, with The Gay Who Wasn’t Gay Enough, coming out of the closet is the easiest part. Once you’ve made that stand, what do you do with yourself? The 3-minute film from first-time director Linzi Knight attempts to answer such questions. It is a hilarious take on finding yourself and holding firmly to the rugby shorts you may end up wearing.

Some people would argue that we live in a world where the sanctity of marriage has faded greatly. Necking, a film by Lindsay Lindenbaum, is a ten-minute film that proves the cynics wrong. The documentary interviews various couples who have been married for decades. No one wants to watch a film about the statistics of failed marriages. With this short, optimists can rejoice; there does exist on this insane little planet the rare couples who continue their marriages. It will be hard not to appreciate their stories.

Angela Wright, directed by Mu Sun, is a thirteen-minute drama attesting to the pressures any high school student can relate to. The film shines light on the realities that teenagers face in choosing their future. There are certain points quite painful to watch. It is an honest portrayal of what one girl is willing to do in order to achieve that future.

Flowers for Amber Gordon is a 10-minute short directed by Jason Yamas. The glory of young love is beautifully highlighted through sweeping shots of nature. Ben loves Amber with a maturity quite surprising for his age. His devotion is put to the test when she advocates a more open relationship. The pain caused by such a suggestion is clearly conveyed throughout the film, but in the end the strength of love holds a stronger sway on his fractured heart. The beauty of cinema and love is stunningly captured within this film.

Wednesday’s Child, directed by Rocco Cataldo, is a 7-minute drama making its DC Premiere at the festival. What’s a girl to do when she finds out her entire upbringing has been based on lies? Kill her parents of course! Cleverly written and gorgeously shot, this short is a must-see for kids or adults of all ages.

Director Brett Cramers’ 7-minute drama Charlie is intense and unrelenting.  A super soaker battle between four friends becomes something greater as one is pushed to the edge. Will they forge together to make the right decision, or will they decide to abandon kindness? You may not see what you expect, and that’s exactly the point. It is truly an unforgettable short.

Suffering can bridge the gaps of age, sex and language. In Child of the Desert, directed by Iliana Sosa, the struggle of a suffering mother and illegal immigrant unite two wholly different people. Mourning the loss of her veteran son, a mother finds solace in a new unexpected friend. The twenty-minute drama succeeds masterfully in capturing the perspective of the suffering woman. Expect a fine performance from 2011 Independent Spirit Award winner, Dale Dickey.

By: Shilah Alibakhshi

Showcase 16: Hilarity With A Dose of Horror

Comedy takes the reign as champion of this showcase with four shorts bent on making you laugh. There’s also a sprinkle of horror and a wee bit of drama for the more serious viewer. Whatever the case, these premieres are sure to please.

A young man goes with his on-again off-again girlfriend to their abortion. In Another Bullet Dodged, directed by Landon Zakheim, the despair and pain of such a scenario is brought to the screen with undeniable skill. The performances are electrifying in their raw portrayal of life-like characters. The young man is oblivious to the pain he causes by every action he makes. The film sticks out among a showcase of silliness, but with good reason; it is a fantastic short.

Other, directed by first-time filmmaker Daniel DelPurgatorio, is a fifteen-minute horror film not for the faint of heart. Self-experimentation has never awarded its candidate with anything other than disaster. But when you have cancer that won’t stop growing you’ll do anything to save yourself. Cue the chaotic turn of a camera and the addition of gurgling piles of mush. The film is painful to watch and you may not feel like enjoying anything to eat before, during or after. The horrific element of the film is the obvious devotion the dying doctor has to the new species he’s created. Just when you think he’s had enough, he refuses to give up during his quest. It is a quest that began with desperation and ends with a disturbing revelation. It will give you chills without end. Consider yourself warned.

The Order is a seventeen-minute drama from first-time filmmaker Per Muhlow. A waitress must bend to the every desire of an extremely picky customer. What ensues is a ridiculous display of obedience in this clever little Swedish film. With shots of a pornographic nature and an evident amount of humor, one cannot help but appreciate the creative story told within the film.

If you’ve ever been on a date, and things haven’t really gone that well; you’ll appreciate First Date. What seems like a swell night turns into a shitty one, literally. First-time filmmaker Steven DeGennaro creates a hilarious short that will make you laugh and make you groan from disgust. If you don’t find the film funny, there has to be something wrong with you.

Co-directors Joe Hughes and Semih Ozkoseoglu join forces to create a lovely little ode to punishing the unfaithful. A daughter seduces husbands to exact revenge on her own unfaithful father. What results is the Australian comedy Devoted Husband, a 6-minute rowdy revenge short that compliments the hilarity of this entire showcase.

Strangers stuck in a bed together; it sounds like a recipe for sheer disaster. Instead, director Giancarlo Lannotta ups the doses of comedy with his thirteen-minute short One Nightstand. The idea is simple, but the execution is brilliant. The interactions between the main characters are funny and the entire charm of the short is undeniable. It will put a smile on your face.

Madly Unto Eternity is a thirteen-minute comedy from writer and first-time filmmaker Pikey Holdredge.  Danny must deal with his deceptive brother and angry girlfriend after he wrongfully blames her for being unfaithful. With romance, action and comedy all wrapped up in this film; it’s hard not to find something enjoyable.

By: Shilah Alibakhshi

Showcase 15: Wanting Something More

Life is a struggle; but that makes it all the more thrilling. With Showcase 15, people, and a chicken, struggle with their identities and their desires. With films from Brazil, Turkey and Spain, a vast array of distinct voices can be heard.

La Boda (The Wedding) is a twelve-minute dramedy from Spain directed by Marina Seresesky. The film follows a maid on her journey to attend her daughters wedding. She’ll lose her job, find a new dress and avoid a raid. The genuine passion behind the story is evident. Viewers will be satisfied with the love that emanates from the screen. It is a genuinely heart-warming film.

Sitting Babies, directed by Cameron Fay, is a thirteen-minute comedy with sharp humor and great performances. When a high-school grad baby-sits a precocious boy, his night is sure to be an interesting ride. There is never a dull moment in this film. With an eager-to-date-again mother and a boy who knows the meaning of blackmail, it’s refreshing to find such a humorous short. You can try not to laugh, but you’ll find such an attempt impossible.

Tastes Like Chicken? is a fifteen-minute documentary from Brazil. Creatively directed by first-time filmmaker Quico Meirelles, audiences can follow the journey of an optimistic chicken who has seen and experienced the worst of chicken farming. Intelligent and clearly full of a compassionate conscience, the film is a rare treat. Several scenes are quite shocking for anyone ignorant to the realities of animal farming. In this aspect of the film, it is both informative and stunning. The film will leave it’s mark on your brain once the credits roll.

Flawless Life, directed by Ozgul Gurbuz, is a 4-minute animation from Turkey. A homeless man finds a precious object in the midst of his garbage digging chore. What he chooses to do with it is surprising. It is not what you expect, but it is a simple notion. This animation is short but the message is strong; possessions are really what you make of them.

Shabbat Dinner is a fifteen-minute drama directed by Michael Morgenstern. The film captures the awkwardness of adolescence and sexual discovery effortlessly. This discovery is set against the backdrop of a dinner conversation of oblivious parents. Parents who would never imagine what is actually happening in the next room. It is the honesty in the film that makes it a must-see.

Late, directed by Jason R. Goode, is an 8-minute drama from Canada. Two complete strangers meet in a coffee shop; they talk, one flirts and you’re not sure what to make out of it. It is an interesting take on a chance encounter that could possibly grow into something more. The characters are flawed and altogether very human, captured brilliantly in this little short.

First-time filmmaker Peter Lewis draws one into a world of serene beauty with his film The Camera. A young woman discovers a camera with an extraordinary ability. Though not a word is spoken, the directors ability to capture life and the unexpected in all it’s glory is uncanny. The films music, also composed by Lewis, compliments the subtle feel of the 8-minute drama.

The sweet suburban landscape can be daunting when your neighbor seems to upstage your every move. Writer and director Judd Cherry mocks the world of materialistic and social superiority with the fifteen-minute comedy Neighbors. The characters are ridiculous and their actions only enforce this notion. It says something deeper about American society as a whole. One may laugh at their actions, but it certainly isn’t far from the truth.

By: Shilah Alibakhshi

Showcase 3: Noteworthy Artistic Expressions

Showcase 3 introduces variety, ingenuity and purpose in its collection of eight very memorable films.  With an assortment of genres to lay name to, including dark comedy, animation, drama and horror, each film brings unique artistic expression from a group of impassioned and thoughtful filmmakers.  You’re in for a treat with this very special showcase.

Chris Foggin makes a laugh out loud satire out of the social networking boom with Friend Request Pending.  The film also features one of Britain’s leading ladies, Dame Judi Dench!  With tips on online flirting, the rules of LOL usage and other online jargon told from the points of view of two seniors who sound more like boy-crazy teenage girls, this film will have you chuckling throughout.

Burials is a raw and poignant film by Zachary Volker.  Volker depicts a man faced with complete despair at the disappearance of his sister.  Little by little the man’s life begins to take a backseat as he scours the city in a futile search to find her.  The film illustrates the overbearing nature of grief in a way that articulates the deep heartache one faces when losing a loved one.

Jason Fraley depicts real-life struggles in his dramatic short, Liberty Road.  When a man is struck with news of foreclosure on his home and the loss of his job, he is left in a state of total uncertainty.  His struggle, however, is complimented with a series of random acts of kindness, acting in a domino effect.  The actions that are depicted in Liberty Road have powerful ramifications and offset impending misfortune.

Katherine Mahalic’s documentary short titled, The Vacuum Kid, chronicles a strange 12-year-old boy and his rare passion for vacuum cleaners.  The boy, Kyle Krichbaum, has had a preoccupation with vacuums from a very young age.  With his parents’ support, he cultivates his fixation into a collector’s hobby.  While some may write this off as a bizarre obsession, the film succeeds in captivating us through its unconventional subject matter.

British director, Louis Hudson’s animated short, All Consuming Love (Man In A Cat) offers some comic relief to the third showcase.  The film tells a fictional story about a man in a cat.  Yes, you read that correctly, a man that lives inside a cat. And while utterly implausible, the film exemplifies the creativity and originality of this filmmaker.  The artistic expression in the short is unique and refreshing with distinctive animation and voice over.

When you first start watching Photo you’ll be unaware of the terror that awaits, because this short could seemingly go in many different directions.  When we think of horror flicks, we think blood and guts, but director Franc Planas proves that horror need not be depicted in such an archetypal way.  Photo breaks the mold, as Planas manages to make a completely creepy film.

A Short Film about Ice Fishing centers around two friends’ seemingly routine ice fishing outing—yet they’re in for a surprise.  With a silvery white wilderness as the film’s backdrop, the viewer is immediately immersed in the same bone-chilling blizzard that takes place on screen.  Director Jason Shahinfar uses this vivid landscape to depict the stark contrast between the expected and the unexpected.

The Carrier tells the compelling story of a mother who is left to pick up the pieces after her son’s untimely death.  Scott Schaeffer directs this heart-rending short film that is earnest and engaging, and possesses a poignancy that lingers even after the credits roll.  Memorable performances by screen actors Rita Wilson, Anna Paquin and Chad Michael Murray.

By: Hadley Fielding