Friday, September 14, 2007
DC Shorts 2007 Sept Festival, a lot of originality
Here is a rundown of some of the films at the DC Shorts film festival Sept 13-20 2007 at Landmark E-Street Cinema. Some of the films used SAG or SAG Indie.
Chinese Dumplings (8 min), dir. Michelle Hung, in Cinemascope. Kids practice the violin when they would rather play outside, which is good for them. Some good food is shown.
415 M Street (8 min) dir. Stephanie Slewka, a film made about a historic house in Shaw in Washington DC by the owner. Built in the 19th Century, it has housed a Jewish boys group, an African American Bible church through the 50s to the 70s, and then from 1984-1993m the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington DC which ministers to gays and lesbians. Pastor Candace Shultis, a former Marine, appears. I attended from 1989-1993, when the new church on Ridge Street was built. Rev. Larry Uhrig, author of the piece “There Is No Better Half,” was pastor, but died in 1993. I played piano for some services in 1992. There was a yard where the Church had socials and after service refreshments.
The Bleeder (13 min, Ian Cook). An obese 12 year old boy with nosebleeds (maybe hemophilia) imagines how he can get back at his brothers.
Carla Cope (05:30, dir. Aileen McCormack) is a super-8 retrospect of the losses in NYC on 9/11.
Loman’s Tale (6 min, Peter Bruenner) where drawings of the woods merge into reality.
The Job (3 min, dir. Jonathan Browning) where professionals have to undergo the indignity of labor hiring halls usually used by illegal immigrants.
Quiet (16 min, dir, Alehandri Rodriques) On moving day, with boxes packed, a woman hears signs of carnage and martial law outdoors, and is not sure if she is dreaming, or if her world is falling apart.
Martial Artsy (5 min, Kiyong Kim) In Baltimore, an artist unwittingly goes to a martial arts competition and prevails.
Rumbero (9 min, dir. Din Atlit) where mother intervenes in a tender family reconciliation.
Hidden Faces (7 min, dir. Lucie Rouche, France) A woman struggles in a regimented “Big Brother” Orwellian workplace, where she longs for human contact and friendship, even from Human Resources.
Sunday Afternoon (13 min, dir. Gaia Adducchio, Italy) a couple buries a loved one in lake in a film with slightly Hitchcockian flavor.
The Hitchhiker (16 min, dir. Jason Goode, Canada) a hitchhiker has to go through security before a woman picks him up in rural British Columbia, and then there is a surprise waiting for him in the trunk. This film reminds me a bit of Jason Epperson from “On the Lot.”
When I Grow Up (6:40, Michelle Meeker). Well, it’s not just to sit back and contemplate. Girls ruminate on their career plans. Funded by the KIPP project. Animated.
Esperando (“Hope”, 6 min, dir. Michael Flores) Women crossing the border face abuse once in the US. In black and white, reminding one of “Touch of Evil.”
Can I Kick It? (6 min, dir. Gabe Uhr). Informal kickball, in a form that simulates baseball (as in grade school) on the Washington DC Ellipse near the White House. Forget RFK stadium; There are no outfield fences.
Feeding (11 min, dir. James Arnall) a schizophrenic woman imagines that her disposal is like Stephen King’s IT or Tommyknockers, to the tune of Schubert’s E-flat Piano Trio. Her husband will make good fodder.
Paper (2 min, dir. Elliot Blanchard) animation.
Palweiser Label (10 min, dir. Brad Wise). A beverage company hires American Chinese to fake speaking Chinese in ads.
Signage (13 min, dir. Rick Hammerly). A vain 41-year-old, already with a younger lover, visits a gay bar and meets younger deaf men. He tries to hit if off with one recent 21-year-old, who resents not his age but his unsympathetic hearing. Some real drama about values here, not limited to the LGBT world.
Lesson 5 (5 min, Stephen Carr) a date with some language lab lessons, with Beethoven Pastorale Sonata, Satie, and the Chopin Raindrop prelude.
2 in the AM PM (8 min, dir. and animated by JG Quintel) In original black and white animated drawings, two young men at a gas station entertain themselves on Halloween night by drifting into substances not wholly legal. The portraits are lifelike, and the director disclaimed that art imitated life in the Q&A afterwards.
Big Dumb F* (3 min, Dean Harner) An African American woman berates intellectual men, who are out to judge the individual worthiness of others.
The Run (3 min, dir. Shawn Costa) a young college man is chased in a dorm by another man, however, menacing, with a real emergency.
The Money Shot (12 min, dir. Chip Frankin). A woman delves into why her boyfriend likes porno, and wants to see “the ending” where the fantasy turns to love and commitment.
Robin Williams Has No Top Lip (2 min, dir. Paul Haber) Eavesdropping in a bar, Andy Warhol style (reminds one of “Water”).
Partially True Tales of High Adventure (12 min, dir. Murphy Gibson). A screenwriter, desperate to win a Hollywood agent, decides that his art needs to imitate life, and sets out to make his life funnier, both at home and in the bar, especially. Reminds one of “The Dying Gaul.” In the bar, they talk about screenwriting, so the movie is reflexive. I once had an experience a bit like this in Boston.
Trigger Effect (24 min, dir. Tim Gordon, Centura) (this film should not be confused with the 1996 Universal film by David Koepp; in both films the title is an effective pun) is a docudrama examining the DC handgun ban, which was recently struck down by an appeals court. Filmed on location in SE DC in a low income neighborhood with the Capitol in view constantly. A middle school aged boy has lost his father to gun violence and feels compelled to get a handgun illegally to prove that he can "protect his family." At the same time, a homeland security official debates the issue with the police chief and politicians. Compare to the film "Bill's Gun Shop" from Minnesota. (Review link). So far there have been very few films on the gun control issues.
Fast Love (3 min, dir. Josh Flowers). A comic documentary about the car service line at a fast food joint. Last time I waited in a line like this was in Pittsburgh. Really.
Girls Room (10 min, dir. Maria Gigante). A dilapidated girls lavatory in a public school provides an excuse for some rather risky comedy.
Barberin' (7 min, dir. Ben Crosbie and Tessa Moran) a documentary about a barbershop with barbers trained in prison. Memories of the MGM "Barber Shop" movies come back.
Glimpse (9 min, dir. Dustin Grella) animates some of the art of Willem de Koonig, with the effect that nothing lasts forever.
Personal Spectator (16 min, dir. Emmanuel Jaspers, Belgium / UK) In a British eatery, an unemployed and handsome young man approaches a woman and suggests working for her, actually getting paid, as a "spectator" (not a peeping Tom) so that her ordinary life becomes important. Based on a play "The Seven Jays" by Carol Frechette.
Push (16 min, dir Loris Lai, Italy) A young man agrees to a bank robbery to save his family from a vendetta; this little film seems like a Sicilian "Days of our Lives" -- the real thing.
The "O" Word (8 min, dir. Alan Lock, Australia). The "O" means "Obey." A mother locks her daughter in a room to keep her from marrying a garbage collector and disgracing the family, whereas the daughter worries about having a family at all or becoming an old maid.
One other short here should get mentioned, because it doesn't merit a whole blog entry: Andy Samberg 's "Laser Cats", from the Saturday Night Live skit Sept. 22 (when Jake Gyllenhaal hosts). The cats take on Clark Kent heat vision powers. The film is framed in a skit where an agent rejects it. But it has a lot of Zack Lipovsky-like effects and it would have played well On the Lot.
Also Brian Williams has his own SNL Digital Short (Nov. 3). I don't recall the NBC cafeteria when I worked there as a computer programmer-analyst 1974-1977. I do remember the semi-private offices (14th floor then), and I never leaned out a window like he does in the short. The short did bring back memories. Past is prologue.
Also, the US Postal Museum at Union Station in Washington DC shows a 5 minute short, 'Mail by Rail", about the Railway Post Office, which closed in 1974. The jobs of railroad mail handlers were very "communal" in nature.
The National Archives has the eleven-minute Discovery short "Democracy Starts Here," about the Archives as a national family scrapbook. Did you know that Alfred Hitchcock is an immigrant? Ken Burns narrates.
A picture of the 415 M house is shown (subject of one of the films).