FFF 2018 Day 8, Shorts, Shorts & More Shorts

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Perhaps the Best Short of This Year’s FFF–The Driver is Red

The shorts programs are always a highlight of the FFF. These films are often how aspiring filmmakers begin their careers. It’s not uncommon to discover the short was submitted as part of the requirement for graduation at one of the nation’s prestigious film schools, such as USC or NYU.

Today, we got to see a selection of International Live Action Shorts, International Animated Shorts and the ever popular Animated Shorts Programs. Here’s a quick synopsis of each movie along with some brief thoughts.

International Animated Shorts

Even Death has Teen Issues

The Death, Dad & Son
Created by the co-writer/co-director of Persepolis, this well made morality tale gives a thoughtful take on the unexpected consequences of trying to change one’s destiny. Being born the son of Death might not be too desirable. Yet trying to become angelic could have profound impact on the world that just isn’t meant to be. This was a favorite short of both Number Two Son and myself.

The Laughing Spider
Perhaps the most beautifully artistic short also provides the most surreal experience as colorful creations weave a web (literally) throughout this film.

Negative Space
This 2017 Oscar Nominated, heart felt little short by Max Porter and Ru Kawahata felt like an animated documentary. Beautifully crafted, the filmmakers use clothing and packing a suitcase as a metaphor for a son’s close relationship with his father. A particularly spectacular scene involved a swath of clothing becoming the waves on a beach that gently recede and come back closer and closer to the protagonist. The closing line will bring tears to your eyes.

Dead Horses
This stop motion, puppet animation perfectly captures the confusion of a young boy facing the horrors of war. The detailed, drab colored cloth puppets and the child’s view of war work together perfectly.

Wicked Girl
A powerful story based on real life shows a young girl examining the memories of her life in very dramatic fashion. Well rendered by Ayce Kartal.

The Burden
Don’t try to find any deep meaning or symbolism in this wacky stop motion musical featuring animal characters in decidedly mundane human situations. The catchy songs and creative animals-in-human environs capture one’s interest and makes this frolic quite enjoyable

Intimity
A short about body image and insecurities as a woman gets ready for her day.

The Noise of Licking
The most memorable part of this strange short is the sound editing. A cat watches a woman caring for her plants. When the cat passes, a strange, cat like man appears.

Catherine
Catherine loves cats, but despite her best efforts, it’s not always in the cat’s best interest to be her pet. The attentive boy next door does his best to help–but this morbidly funny short demonstrates that life with Catherine is usually tragically sweet.

Perfect Town
Colorful and creative, this surreal piece features beautiful imagery. Were there messages of conformity and social engineering? You be the judge.

Life Before Life
This short anthropomorphizes butterflies in their journey from cocoon to rebirth and death.

International Shorts #1: “Runnin’ Down a Dream”
The Merry-Go-Round

This Film is Quite a Ride

This whimsical, well made short shows that the most dangerous thing a group of drunken men encounter isn’t a mobster but an unattended carnival ride. The expertise of the filmmaker elevates this little ditty above your run of the mill short.

Beatrice
Truly inspiring documentary about Beatrice Vio. She lost both arms and legs in a childhood battle with meningitis. That did not stop her from becoming the Paralympic fencing champion. We loved the way this film does not shy away from showing all the scars Beatrice lives with every day.

The Log (Halko)
The production crew is ready for the final, climatic shot of their movie. However, the lead actor never realized this shot was a nude. An embarrassing physical condition makes for a hilarious few minutes in the make up trailer.

Gaze
A woman taking the bus home alone in the dark of the evening helps to thwart a crime. As she is stalked by the assailant, this film expertly conveys the terror of a lonely soul on a dark stretch of road.

Shadow Animals
A somewhat surreal horror short about a little girl whisked to a bizarre dinner party with her parents. Stalked by ominous shadows, this well filmed short evokes a truly unusual evening of terror.

The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under The Staris
Another well made and artfully acted horror film about an old woman who goes to the internet to figure out how to get rid of her fears. Just when you think she was swindled out of her money, turns out she could stuff her fears away–at least until an unwelcome intruder attempts to gain access.

Iris

The more she rides her stationary bicycle, the more she thinks about Laura. A coming of age story about coming to terms with sexuality.

Do I have Boobs Now?
A very timely documentary short about a trans woman attempting to discover the exact moment that her transition makes it forboden for her to display her naked breasts. By taking topless photos on a regular basis and then posting them to social medium, at exactly what point does society shut it all down. Thought provoking and relevant!

Thursday Night

Creative Take on a Ghost Story

A very creative, well shot ghost story involving a very unlikely protagonist. When a human passes, they say we follow the light. When a dog passes, do they follow the white dog? Very creative and engaging short.

Shorts #5: Animated Shorts
Fired Up
Before Obama became president, he had to do the dreary work of campaigning on the road. Long hours and inclement weather with a very small turn out made one campaign stop particularly brutal. That is, until one elderly, female citizen fired everyone up and propelled Barack to the White House. Artfully animated story using Obama’s own narrative as the voice over.

Jeom
The end of this short features a photo of a baby with a huge birthmark on the back of his head. Was this the inspiration for a short obsessed with trying to remove an unsightly mark?

Phototaxis
This conflagration of a West Virginia folk tale with the wisdom of Narcotics Anonymous creates a memorable juxtaposition.

Abnie Oberfork: A Tale of Self-Preservation
How can one best survive childhood? This 12 year old decides that following the example of a cucumber might just do the trick as she puts herself inside the pickle jar.

Shahkboy
With a great white for a father, this typical New England teenage Shahk navigates some typical adolescent troubles.

Aquacade
Using a combination of stop motion, 2D and 3D animation along with archival footage, this short is based on the true story of NYC’s attempt to ban pinball machines in the early 1940’s.  The short does an exceptional job of capturing an interesting time in our nation’s history.

For Educational Purposes Only
The most enjoyable and amusing aspect of this short was trying to read the creative signs as the camera zooms by.

Nevada
An x-rated stop motion animation tells a tender tale of a broken prophylactic and the imaginary child that will be aborted with the morning after pill. A very tender story extremely well conceived and very well written.

Undiscovered
Certainly there have been many, many photos taken of Bigfoot. It’s just that he’s very particular about which photos he deletes. Funny and engaging, you will enjoy this short.

The Velvet Underground Played At My High School
Not having a clue who The Velvet Underground is, I am assuming that those who do know, and who really like this band, will especially enjoy this true life short. Being an old fuddy-duddy, I found the music annoying.

Weekends
Number One Son listed this short as one of his favorite. It artfully conveys the emotional roller coaster of a young boy as he is shuffled back and forth between his parents.

Seahorse Man
While mom produces the egg, it’s the male seahorse that gives birth. That’s the backstory to this short about a man who tries to be a hero but not until he checks into the hospital.

Fundamental
A harrowing look at the effects of growing up in a strict, conservative religious family.

The Driver is Red
Number One Son, Mrs. LanceAround and I all agreed that this short was the best of the entire program. It was an animation of the true story of the Mossad agents that hunt down one of Nazism’s most notorious war criminals. By slowing revealing the pertinent information, this film keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow along in the attempt to extradite this monster. An engrossing story, well told and artfully animated with black ink on brown paper, this is one movie you won’t forget.

As I write the reviews and synopsis of these 33 short films, I’m reminded that it is difficult to fully appreciate all the movies one sees during the shorts program. Sometimes it is difficult to switch from a film that is primarily visual to a film that is mostly verbal. A sparsely animated short might be followed by one engulfed in detail. It takes a lot of concentration and focus to switch gears and give each movie the attention and appreciation they deserve. These filmmakers, many of whom are just starting their careers, fill the screen with passion and effort worthy of our attention.

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