No preamble, if you want to learn more about this fantastic online competition, check out the first half of our coverage from yesterday. Again, due to embedding restrictions, please visit the festival website to view the films. Without further ado, enjoy 6 more incredible festival-winning shorts.
AARON BURR PART 2: dir. Dana O’Keefe | 8min
Aaron Burr relates his grievances against Alexander Hamilton and History at large in a modern setting.
That I love it so fiercely is the only reason I would judge this film harshly. Full of impressive seriousness, director O’Keefe lends this revisionist history a style and mood that is miles away from Drunk History. A dark and bitter figure, Burr self-mythologizes while haunting modern Manhattan like a character in a picaresque. The use of David McCallum on the soundtrack, best known for being sampled by Dr. Dre, lends the character an anti-hero swag, and the manipulated narration sounds as though we’re hearing Burr’s voice reach us via the vast expanse of time, an effect which plays nicely with the contemporary backdrop. The film is not without its laughs however, anachronistic bits like Burr and Hamilton trading text message barbs are neither explained nor apologized for, and are quite amusing.
Still, the excessive use of historical flashback and documentary images sit uneasily next this image of the romantic villain, and combined with the comedic touches engender a feeling that the film is pulling itself in different directions. However to even arrive at such a place of joyous contradiction is a lot of fun, and this is a film I’ll enjoy rewatching again and again.
8/10 : Jason Sondhi
THE CHAIR: dir. Grainger David | 12min
One boy’s reaction to a strange and deadly outbreak in his small town. SXSW Winner, Cannes Finalist.
I may very likely be in the minority in not liking this much. A young black boy in a rural setting reflects in voiceover about the mysterious death of his mother from mould spores, and the resulting chaos and fear that take over his town. To me, this is too close to Beasts of the Southern Wild, and feels similarly overwritten, with the young narrator speaking lines that feel like they belong to a much older and wiser person.
6/10 : James McNally
200 MINUTES: dir. Frank Benitez | 19min
A mother receives a cell phone from her wayward son to earn money for her final expenses.
This film is a portrait of a woman making peace with her life and proceeding to move on. Actress Mercedes Mendez carries this film. The cinematography is simple and elegant, which echoes the loneliness and hardship her life has endured. Her main obstacle, a male neighbor, tries to keep her from making her peace by offering companionship, to enjoy life one last time. His character is the remarkable balance that makes her decision difficult to endure. In the end, her willful character is able to achieve her goal.
7/10 : Genevieve Okupiniak
(NOTES) ON BIOLOGY: by Ornana Films | 7min
One student’s daydreams com vividly to life in Biology class via doodling in his handy notebook.
Closing in on a million views on Vimeo, this is one of the truly special films of the past year. Craig Downing wrote an ecstatic review for us, and we were happy to help Ornana recently by supporting their recent Kickstarter. Everything here is stellar, the universal concept, the deft animation which incorporates a myriads of styles and wrinkles, all the way down to the ace punchline ending. Oh and Robot Elephant!
10/10 : Jason Sondhi
THE LOVE COMPETITION: dir. Brent Hoff | 15min
Old and young, single and attached, compete to neurochemically love someone as hard as they can in this short from the founder of Wholphin.
As with The Crying Game, Brent finds a simple way of quantifying complex emotions. In 15 minutes, Brent’s simple game somehow manages to capture a bigger vision of life’s most meaningful moments than most feature films. In the end, it’s not about who wins and who loses, but the underlying stories that surface along the way.
8/10 : Andrew Allen
A CHJÁNA (THE PLAIN): Jonas Carpignano | 20min
True events inspired this compelling tale of an African migrant worker and his best friend in the wake of the most significant race riot in Italian history.
The longest entry in the contest, Carpignano’s opus suffers somewhat from the film festival curse—lots of atmospheric scenes that display the specificity of lives lived, without really clueing you in on how they relate to plot. However, NO other festival short film I’ve seen has ever put together a riot scene that could give Romain Gavras a run for his money. Ultimately staged thrills and ethnographic curiosity carry the central ambiguity of the main characters relationship and feelings.
8/10 : Jason Sondhi