Saturday, September 28, 2013

DC Shorts: "Legal Stranger". "Girl Clown", and "Rake's Commitment"

I attended DC Shorts Program 3 at the Angelika Mosaic Center Friday night. At first glance, the films in the program as a whole don’t look as substantive as in the past (few are longer than fifteen minutes), but a few of the films last night had a surprising impact.
Let’s start with the longest, a comedy “Girl Clown” (Beth Spitalny, 15 min).  A somewhat introverted secretary Laura (Crystal Faith Scott) finds herself drawn into becoming a party clown.  She even gets hired because she shows up at the interview not trying to become one.  There seem to be some secret covens in her New York (Brooklyn?) brownstone apartment where spirits or beings drive her on to new directions, and there is a beautiful cat.  In one of my own novel manuscripts, a female character has a secret chamber that leads her into unusual understandings about one of her kids.
Rake’s Commitment” (“El Rastrillo se quiere comprometer”, 14 min), by Santi Veiga, presents us with a gaunt Huberto (Javier Coll), who approaches his wife or girl friend (Julia Moyano) about having a child. She retorts that he needs to find something larger than himself to commit himself to.  Is this a call for Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven Life”?  The film goes through all the possible causes, and Huberto finds it hard to get enthused about someone else’s problems.   One of the causes is gay rights, which gets rather oblique mention.  Can Huberto find enough purpose outside himself to become a good father, or will fatherhood itself be enough purpose?   The film is set in modern day Madrid.
Legal Stranger” (14 min., directed by Amanda Lucidon) presents us a lesbian couple, Amy and Alex, who were married legally in the District of Columbia but who live in a palatial home in Alexandria, VA.  They use surrogacy for Alex to get pregnant, and have the child in April 2012 (the film shows the ultrasound and birth process, almost in Morgan Spurlock fashion).  But then, in Virginia, there are enormous legal complications in giving Amy the legal status of parent.  The film does trace a little bit of the history of the Marshall-Newman Amendment in Virginia, 2006, banning any legal recognition of same-sex unions.   I live in Arlington, and people always say, living in VA is slightly cheaper than MD or DC, but has horrible politics.  The film presents the strong case for gay equality from an individual rights perspective, but other films in the set give some perspective on a more collective idea of moral thinking.  In states that refuse to recognize same-sex couples, the partners are “legal strangers”. Sponsored by Reel Affirmations

The film was shot before the oral arguments on DOMA before the Supreme Court in March 2013, so the film is not informed of the final Supreme Court ruling in June. 
The Big Leap” (10 min,  Kristoffer Rus, Sweden) presents three people on top of a skyscraper, threatening to leap after a financial crisis (maybe the debt ceiling?)  The city, created with CGI, looks like it is on an island on another planet, or perhaps in China.
Ouverture” (5 min, BW animation, Bracey Smith and Neil Dvorak). A girl spills out music (Bach, music from a cantata transcribed to piano) and the notes take on physical form.

Worlds We Created” (10 min).  About the time we first walked on the Moon, a little boy must face the limits of imagination.

T’ai Chi Man!” (2 min), a real short-short based on martial arts movies.

The Primaeval Father” (3 min, animated) gives us an idea why the Neanderthals sustained themselves a long time but could not innovate.

Duel” (4 min, Portugal).  A man and a woman, yes.  

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