The Pride Festival wasn’t the only place to peep some decent short shorts this weekend. Just up the hill at the Post Theatre, the Who Likes Short Shorts? Film Festival brought its own blend of community, artistry and passion to the Wasatch Front.
At first glance, the WLSS Film Festival is a place where one can enjoy a barrage of short films from all over the world. Once inside, however, one quickly learns that it’s also a place for local filmmakers to rub elbows with each other and gain an audience with some important players in the Utah film scene. This is exactly what show founders Jack Diamond and Chase Weston want. Both of them have done their time as starving filmmakers in Utah, but they have also demonstrated how persistence, creativity and optimism can pay off. The festival began back in 2010, and it has only gotten bigger. This year, they received such a large number of submissions—many of which came from different countries—that they expanded the event into a two-night short film marathon that included giveaways and panel discussions.
Though each of the films represented a variety of different genres, styles and plots, they all shared a common thread of honesty—pure and unspoiled. That’s not to say that every film I saw was mind-blowingly awesome, but each film was made with so much blood, sweat and tears that the audience couldn’t help but feel like they had experienced something rather than just watched it pass by on screen. They might be misunderstood. They might be rough around the edges. But damn it, so were the Goonies. And Goonies never say die. Here are some of the films that caught my eye and made me want to buy the filmmakers a drink.
Submitted by Arev Manoukian
4 min 38 sec
This is a perfect example of how to use the short film medium. In four-and-a-half minutes, Manoukian uses slow-motion photography to capture an explosive moment in the lives of two strangers. The film’s achingly slow pacing strings the audience along for every second until the characters meet within a shower of broken glass. This film feels like a mash-up between The Artist and The Matrix, and that is a beautiful thing.
Submitted by Chris Tomkins
6 min 12 sec
It starts out in a familiar place—two burglars raiding an unoccupied house. Just as they enter the living room, both criminals are staggered by the enormous movie collection that towers over them. For a fleeting moment, the pair forget their heist and find themselves critically discussing the quality of the original Ocean’s 11 versus the remake. The two thieves play extremely well off of each other, and their conversations about popular movies belong in a Tarantino film. Plus, it’s all done in melodious accents that make your ears feel like they’ve been swabbed with velvet Q-Tips.
Life According to Penny
Submitted by Ali Barr
18 min 48 sec
Filmed against the rural backdrop of Kamas, Utah, Life According to Penny tells the story of the Blightworth Home for Girls and its twisted headmaster. Penny is inspired by the Biblical tale of David and Goliath, which prompts her to make a getaway with her mentally disabled roommate. After speaking with Ali, I learned that this film was a family affair—her daughter Stefania both starred in the film and composed its music—and they hope to evolve this story into a feature film, which would provide ample opportunity to explore more of this dark and unexpectedly heroic territory. Given the fact that their film took home the Best Utah Short award, I’d say they’re off to a good start.
Submitted by Ahmad Saleh
3 min 52 sec
Saleh’s stop-motion animated short condenses the history of the Palestine-Israel conflict into a hauntingly dark allegory. Ulrich Fuchs’s world-weary voiceover tells the story of a family who owned a house that is eventually overtaken by a guest and his new way of life, which resulted in the family’s exile to the roof. It made me realize how little I knew about the conflict between these two groups of people, and the film’s stripped-down narrative sheds light on a situation that is akin to the colonization of America and the displacement of the Native American population.