Part 1 coverage of The Wrap’s debut online short film festival.
Knowing Chris Kezelos from his film Zero, a favorite of both Andrew and I, we were certainly excited to receive an email from him stating that his newest film, The Maker, was coming online. I was out of town for a Vimeo team-building retreat but Andrew eagerly put together a post for Monday. Only upon my return did I learn that The Maker was being released through an online contest, at which point my jaw dropped—I was truly gobsmacked when I saw the lineup! A who’s who of the 2012 festival scene was represented, including the winners of Sundance and SXSW.
Pulled together by The Wrap, an industry news website founded in 2009 by Sharon Waxman, and counting MTV and Cinedigm as major sponsors, the ShortList Film Festival is hands down the most impressive lineup I’ve ever seen assembled for an online competition. Serious stakes accompany winning it as well. A $60,000 Panavision package airplay on MTV, and perhaps most valuable, be screened in front of a pretty damn impressive jury. These films will only be up from August 20th through September 4th, so I knew that we needed to do what we could to expose you to all of these acclaimed films, some of which may never come online again (though we’ll try to persuade the filmmakers otherwise!).
Thus we’re dedicating the next couple of days to spotlighting the 12 finalists in a 2 post series. Enjoy! Due to sharing restrictions we can’t embed the films, but visit the festival site, to watch all the films.
THE MAKER: dir. Chris Kezelos | 5min
A strange creature races against time to make the most important and beautiful creation of his life.
From Monday’s feature: Few have combined iconic production and character design with as strong and original of stories as Christopher Kezelos. The meticulous attention to details in production design make each shot a beautiful still, but the film is so tightly put together that it’s a bit of shock to learn it’s the outcome of an internet-enabled collaboration across three continents. If you love the film as much as we do, you’ll give it your vote.
10/10 : Andrew Allen
FISHING WITHOUT NETS: dir. Cutter Hodierne | 17min
A Somali Pirate film from the perspective of a reluctant pirate.
Shot boldly, colored aggressively, Fishing Without Nets is intensely cinematic, and was easily the most exciting short I saw at Sundance this year, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. Hodierne comes from a concert video background—he toured with U2—so he was both experienced in film and well-traveled when he committed to the crazy idea of shooting a short in third-world Africa. It’s a fascinating topic and is presented with a killer style—a potent combo. Most impressively though is the speed and facility in which he sets up his story. Rarely can you complain of a 17min short being TOO short, but this film, a definite teaser for the feature length version he is currently developing, can have that argument made.
10/10 : Jason Sondhi
A BRIEF HISTORY OF JOHN BALDESSARI: dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman | 6min
Art icon John Baldessari’s career is narrated by Tom Waits in frantically entertaining 6min.
A feature from earlier in the year, this is one of the most stylish and plain entertaining documentaries to come around in a while. Baldessari and Waits trade quips in hysterical fashion. The directing team, is the duo behind the surprising documentary hit Catfish, and while the major choices of Baldessari as a subject, Waits as a narrator, and the playful style of their interaction are solid, it is really the bravura editing of this piece which leads it to our pantheon.
10/10 : Jason Sondhi
METRO: dir. Jake Wyatt | 5min
After a fox steals her train ticket, a young girl must pursue him.
This lovely animated piece uses the frame creatively to show the character’s confinement in space, in this case a subway platform. Reminiscent of frames from a comic book, using different sizes and shapes to mask different parts of the screen, the film opens up visually when the girl pursues the fox out of the station back to his lair, where we learn the importance of each little piece of paper, even a stolen subway ticket. The film’s piano score (which sounds to my ears like an Erik Satie homage) adds another layer of class to this elegantly drawn fable.
8/10 : James McNally
THE FACTORY (A FÁBRICA): dir. Aly Muritiba | 15min
An inmate convinces his mother to take a risk smuggling a cell phone for him into the penitentiary.
This Brazilian film is elegant festival-fare. Shot in 35mm at a famous historical prison, it is spare in plot, and lingers on hopes and indignities. Accomplished, yet slow for the internet, its payoff is too cliché to justify its languorous pace.
6/10 : Jason Sondhi
DON’T HUG ME I’M SCARED: dir. This Is It | 3min
Sardonic sing-a-long about the importance of thinking creatively.
We featured this Sundance fave in advance of the fest, as it had proven itself a well-loved internet favorite before that. A creepy satire of a children’s show, it’s just the kind of bizarre, over-the-top collision of contrasts that gets my subconscious spinning. In the stress of coming up with new creative ideas, you’re always trying to dig deeper, and you don’t always know what’s down there. Sometimes the craziest stuff comes to the surface. Andy Baker’s felted sets are spot on, and evoke the delicate conflict between cute and killer with plush knives and real hearts.
9/10 : Andrew Allen