Hello ladies and gentlemen, Muldoon here with an oddity, a little thought jot on a few short films that have severely impressed me, but aren’t at my disposal to screen here for you all (yet). It’s no secret here at AICN that I love me some shorts or that I think the programmers at Austin’s Fantastic Fest are top notch. Put those two things together and that’s what I call a good time. So if you’re at all interested in hearing about a few shorts you might want to keep an eye out for, well look no further.
This year’s theme? Wanting something more/feeling like you don’t fit in/seeking something.
Director: Moriz Kramer
“A photo shoot and the model is unnerved. Back in the changing room, she makes a surprising discovery. Everything around her is edible - the chair, the TV, the walls.”
“Fashion Model,” the phrase is synonymous with rib cages, hunger pangs, and a level of self control that is anything but natural. Don’t read into that statement as a proclamation that all models are unhealthy – hell no, but like it or not, those words fit 90% of the time. Ever since David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s film GIRL MODEL, I can’t look at an advertisement without seeing a bit of sadness behind the eyes of the smiling, girl holding whatever brand of the week she’s getting paid to hold. That’s a territory that’s just ripe for exploration and that’s what we get in this short film from director Moritz Kramer.
It’s simple, stunning, and bizarre. The film’s an absurd visual representation of what happens when a person hit’s their breaking point and just snaps. Deny yourself something for long enough and one day, you might just find yourself doing the imaginable to get it, to calm your craving. This is an incredibly gorgeous film that’s beautifully lit and oddly believably acted. The lead, Vanessa Schreiber, absolutely knows how to contort her body in such a way that feels like you’re staring at an alien creature, a captive to the photographer’s lens. There are two worlds in this piece, two realities: one she is surrounded by people in a bright room, the star of their attention. The other, she’s in her dimly lit dressing room away from the eyes of anyone; she’s free to let loose; free to go insane. The final shot of the piece is an incredibly silly, yet poignant and perfect for that image, that involves something you’ve never seen before. If you can, do yourself a solid and check out the film.
BEASTS IN THE REAL WORLD
Director: Sol Friedman
Okay, so I’m almost at a loss for words, so bear with me here. Sol Friedman is no stranger to the land of bizarre, just check out LOVE SONGS FROM AN ANDROID and A MESSAGE FROM YOUR ROBOT PRESIDENT if you’re curious. So why would I think any differently going into his latest short? Friedman’s got that extra level of thought, the one that says “Stick a camera on a sushi conveyor belt, because why not?” In such a quick amount of time we get a glimpse at what a meal is, what it means for a few random families. Then we hit the kitchen and are introduced to an odd creature of future sushi, a CGI monstrosity (that kind of looks like the little mushroom dudes from MOM AND DAD SAVE THE WORLD). Then we’re transported into the creature’s memory. I’ve already given away too much – or maybe just the right amount, because nothing prepared me for the last 5 minutes of the film. I’m talking genuine “WTF?” that all ties back in with food/eating/killing. This doesn’t feel like some angry talented vegan filmmaker pouring their acidic visions into a video for why eating meat is wrong, but a bizarre visual exercise in story telling. “Man, you don’t want to have seen what I’ve seen, man.” I’m sure I got it all wrong, but it felt like a rather normal dinner for a number of folks who were clueless as to where their food has been or more importantly what their food has seen. (Also, if you remember Mattel’s bizarre toy series of FOOD FIGHTERS and reflect fondly on those things, this film is right up your alley.)
A HOUSE A HOME
Director: Daniel Fickle
If you’re easily offended, my apologies, but god damn is this a beautiful film. Daniel Fickle… Who the hell is this guy and why isn’t he directing big beautiful films? Not only are the two leads in this just perfect, wholesome young actors, but when they smile at each other, I believe it. The Film’s Synopsis: “Bearing the fantastical shades of Joe Massot’s WONDERWALL, Daniel Fickle’s music video for Alialujah Choir’s “A House, A Home” explores the secret lives of two adolescents who live in small, antiquated rooms connected by underground tunnels. Inspired by a heartbreaking true story.” I’m genuinely impressed. This is one of those films that just works on every level and the fact that it’s a music video… I’m fairly certain you could watch it with the sound off and it would still give you chills. It’s production design is meticulously crafted as each room, each antique device, each little bit of set dec just feels like it’s existed in that space forever, not just placed there before a shot. There’s something very tangible about this film that I’m having a hard time describing, but rest assured this is quite an inspirational piece of work for any aspiring filmmaker out there. I’m so over the moon about this that I really don’t think the song could have had a better visual representation to accompany it. You could add a couple zeros to the end of its budget and I’m quite sure you still couldn’t make a better video for this song. My hat’s off to you, Fickle.
“What if you could take a drug to change your orientation? In a future where only the genetically-modified thrive, one man is faced with a horrible decision.” Yep, here’s a downer, a damn fine downer nonetheless. The opening credits give a beautifully poetic exposition: evolution is necessary. Then we wake up to a genetic disagreement with that idea, two lovers waking up on a sunny morning: they’re both men. What follows is a large visual discussion that taps into what it means to be who you are. Set in the realm of science fiction, a man is presented with a drug/parasite that will in essence “fix him.” Science fiction has always been our way of dealing with things that scare us (just pick your favorite 50’s sci-fi and you know). The film and more importantly the question it asks is so eloquently displayed, I can’t begin to dissect it. It’s a discussion of being true to yourself, or falling in line with the norm. The choice our lead is faced with isn’t an easy one and I sure as hell won’t be spoiling it. If you get a chance to see it, do yourself a solid and make it happen. Beautiful film.
No lie, this one didn’t do it for me. “A woman is accosted by a man who claims to be carrying an important message for her from the future. A captivating character piece propelled by two quietly breathtaking performances.” Perhaps on a different day with a different set of eyes I’d like this one more, but it felt like two actors acting. As always, I hope I’m wrong. I hope you see it and you disagree, but that’s how I felt when the credits rolled. It very much reminded me of the Tiffany documentary from a few years back, I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW, as “This is what it would feel like if the guy who thought he telekinetically talked to Tiffany actually talked to her.” I really am avoiding spoilers here, possibly the first and most important one in the film specifically, so it makes it hard to go into detail. A film I’d see, but not seek out.
MY PAIN IS WORSE THAN YOUR PAIN
This felt real. The performance of the lead, Clark Middleton (Sin City; Kill Bill) absolutely kills it as Gary, the down and out guy who keeps getting fucked by the universe. By no means is this film, directed by Adam Hall, a happy go lucky film. It’s also not like watching a bag of puppies die slowly. It rides an absolutely tricky line of not bumming you out with it’s depressing characters and shitty situations and manages to keep your eyes on screen. It’s funny. It’s fast. It’s got one of the best voiceovers I’ve heard in a good long while. Damn fine film that’s absolutely worth seeking out.
“A deadpan black comedy from the director of Fantastic Fest favorite ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS OF NEBULA 5 about an alienated Spanish housewife who gets a secret message from The Virgin that will change her life forever.” Okay, anytime anyone sees the virgin Mary in an inanimate object or claims her to be hiding in a piece of toast… I can’t help but call bullshit. Clearly, there are MILLIONS of folks out there, all hungry for answers to questions they ask themselves daily, that believe. They believe so hard, so incredibly hard and want that validation, that nod that “it’s all going to be all right.” I liked the film all right. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was well shot, well made, and quirky as hell. Worth checking out, for sure.
A cute little girl finds a dead body and makes friends with it. There’s hints of MAY sprinkled in this lovely little film. Fun? No. Quality? Yep. The little girl is too adorable to dislike. Give it a go if you can.
YOU ARE HERE
Here’s the one singular experimental film of the block. It’s okay. It didn’t really do anything for me, like most experimental films for me.” Inspired by the work and tragic murder of animator Helen Hill, Leslie Supnet’s YOU ARE HERE is a lovely ode to surviving connections beyond the grave.” It’s lovely, sure, but not my cup of tea.
So there we have it, my simple thoughts on the “Fantastic Shorts” block here at Fantastic Fest 2013. Again, I’m just a dude with an opinion (like every single person out there), so don’t take my words as gospel. If you get a chance to see these films, do it. OR if you have seen these, shoot off your thoughts in the talk backs below (different perspectives are always a plus).
- Mike McCutchen