Kate Udall as Mae in "Gravity"
Shorts Block 1
Ah, the shorts blocks. The true pith of any indie film festival. If you want to see the raw kernel of passion that’s supposed to be the whole reason for these festivals in the first place, the shorts blocks are where you want to be. Also, if a movie so happens to really suck a nut, its runtime’s about fifteen minutes, so you can probably sit through it.
Dir: Pamela Romanowsky
As a strict rule I never read the synopsis of a movie before I see it. This way, the film speaks on its own behalf and is required to provide me with any and all the information I might need to view it. Romanowsky’s gorgeous, quiet meditation on one woman’s relationship with the animals she kills for food, was, for me, a successful bit of emotionally charged filmmaking. The process of finding and killing a deer and producing venison soup with her own hands is beautifully portrayed and contains enough meaning in itself to carry the film on its own. However I felt that the underplayed, tacit relationship between the woman and the man she lives with was too removed from focus to drive home the significance of the woman’s decision to escape the man and the life they’ve lived. I read the synopsis after seeing the film. Apparently the man was her husband, they were deeply estranged, and their silence was the evidence of this. Unfortunately my understanding of the synopsis was not my understanding of the film, which removed me from an otherwise poignant thirteen minutes.
Dir: Mollie Jones
With white light, fuzzy, close-in camera work, and humble yet effective set and prop design, director Mollie Jones brings us into a right-around-the-corner type of science fiction. It’s the best kind of scifi: the kind that only adds futuristic details as they become necessary for telling the story. It’s a love story, and the film’s two actors (Jeremy Davies and Selma Blair – big names for a Slandance short) don’t miss one beat between them. The characters meet on the internet (duh) and both seem the ultimate symptoms of an all-tech-no-face-time society – painfully awkward introverts who nevertheless find it ho-hum ordinary to show up at a stranger’s house for an anonymous sex date. A lovely story enjoyably rendered.
Dir: Petr Stupin
A story about a man and a bird. The man is lost – drunk, sad, aimless. The bird, with its broken wing, becomes his reason – his passion and purpose where before there was none. "Bird" is a touching ‘long short’ (31 minutes) that builds its extended metaphor expertly in every scene. Never once was the bird’s significance arbitrary, confusing or vague. And never once did I feel I was being beaten silly with an obvious lesson. We’re given scene after pretty scene of man/bird interaction and asked quietly to consider the point. It’s a daring strategy that often fails, but "Bird" works very well because its meaningful symbolism and metaphor are diluted by a contagious moral ambiguity – even ambivalence. Oh, and it’s pretty and fun and sad and all that stuff, too.
Dir: Brandon LaGanke
Every year one of these slips through. Two years ago it was a ten minute black and white bit showcasing toes and tongues licking and poking through various meats and dessert foods. Last year it was a film that seemed to be about filming degraded, melty film, or . . . something. Similarly, "Bunny Boy" is a viciously pointless five minutes that left me wondering what the almost 3,000 rejected submissions could’ve possibly done to have lost to it. A boy finds a seemingly dead man in a bunny suit. He feeds the man a cookie and a juice box and the man calmly raises a gun and shoots him in the face. Another bunny man looks on from a window, stroking a cat. There. I just saved you five minutes. Watching this short was like being shat on – I feel it’s only fair to return the favor.