Dir. Borislav Sajtinac. (France, 2019) 8:00- Animation
Lol this speaks to me. Life is a prison and there’s no point in trying to escape it. BR
This is an interesting piece of animation. It mixes different techniques and is visually pretty cool, yet the story is sort of pointless and futile. That being said, life can be sort of pointless and futile and I think a lot of meaning can be read into this. Running from one problem, encountering another problem, and running back to the first problem is something everyone can relate to, and the chaotic panicked tone speaks to the current state of the world. TC
40 Minutes Over Maui
Dir. Michael Feld and Josh Covitt (USA 2019) 13:14
For 40 minutes on January 13, 2018, the fate of the world hung in the balance, for Larry and Penny… their Hawaiian vacation was ruined.
54 / THE BLIND TURTULE AND THE ENDLESS SEA
Dir. Isabella Margara. (Greece, 2020) 12:45
A woman who cannot stop running. A mysterious man who knows everything about her life. A turtle pin. An unexpected encounter in the elevator that goes up to the 54th floor – but takes us all elsewhere.
Life is a constant run between engagements, and death is a slow elevator ride to oblivion. LDLO
A very unique look on human life and what our time here is spent on. AH
Dir. Tino Fernández (Spain, 2020). 22.00
Four strangers, coincide in a paddle court on the night of the end of the world.
Dir. Shawn Cheatham (USA, 2020) 10:00
Armed with a formidable knowledge of Italian cinema, an irrepressible eight-year-old boy helps his grandfather recover from a catastrophic loss.
This film speaks to the importance of storytelling which is, in the end, what films are all about. I was really affected by the child’s attempt to breathe a new sense of life into his grandfather by telling his story with him and showing him through his art the importance of carrying on and accepting life’s challenges. AH
Dir. Molly Murphy. (USA, 2020) 9:30- Animation
The world is about to be swallowed by a black hole. Meteorites fall from the sky, ocean waves take on enormous new heights, and chaos abounds in city streets as people confront their looming demise. The world turns to wealthy entrepreneur, Rob Bilford, whose “Escape Lottery” offers the only chance at continuing the human legacy. Wary of the entire structure surrounding this celebrated lottery, Rana Ralorina, a surfer, decides to ditch her lottery ticket for the chance to catch a cosmic wave. In and outside of a black hole’s gravitational pull, Rob and Rana discover time to take on a new meaning…
A MIND SANG
Dir. Vier Nev (Portugal, 2019) 6:11- Animation
In the last moments before childbirth, a mother sees how similar her life and her child’s life will be. A hypnotic visual journey in which every image has two simultaneous meanings.
A STRANGE TRIAL
Dir. Marcel Barelli (France, 2018) 9:58- Animation
“I have always wanted to make a film ABOUT hunting…I mean… AGAINST hunting! But that’s not so easy when you come from a family of hunters… my thoughts are intermingled with my memories. I discuss it with my father: a hunter, of course. But my mother also has a thing or two to say…” (Marcel Barelli)
Being presented in mixed media elevated this piece for me. Part cartoon, part video essay about growing up in a hunting family, this was an enjoyable window into the filmmaker’s attempts to reconcile past traditions with present beliefs. LDLO
A SUMMER AFTERNOON
Dir. Chia-Ho Tai. (Taiwan, Cambodia, 2018) Experimental documentary
From The Killing Fields to what? ….this isn’t living, this is existing…a country asleep full of political propaganda (like most others)…constant construction of what…? The bleakness of it all. Progress, yet people sleeping….the living dead. AN
Dir. Antonio De Palo (Italy, 2019) 15:00
2087. Vera and Roberta are two “Abjurants”, meaning women who refused to adhere to the Eugenics Program imposed by the Government and who have been consequently confined to an unknown location and used as test subjects. Their only purpose in life is recalling to mind their lovers’ facets.
I like the message surrounding the idea that in a dystopia, the most important things to hold on to are our good memories with our loved ones- that is very poignant in the time of COVID. LL
Dir. Urmi Banerjee (India, 2020) 4:58- Animation
‘Afloat’ is a short animated film on Domestic Abuse based on the poem ‘A Smile to Remember’ by Charles Bukowski. This is a story about courage, a story about staying afloat.
This reminds me of the Jean Cocteau quote, “Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.” This film shows us that we’ve arrived at that point in film history. LDLO
Beautiful animation accompanied by a sad story. I like that the filmmaker recycles a classic poem by showing a narrative that feels personal and original. The animation style is dynamic and expressive, even somewhat whimsical. The message of hope/inspiration at the end is a good touch that brings it all together. This film accomplishes a lot with a short run time. TC
Official Selection of the Venice Film Festival, 2018
Dir. Corina Schwingruber Ilić (Switzerland, 2018) 10:00 Short Documentary
Under the spell of mass entertainment on the high seas.
Surely this is the height of civilization. Fun and pleasantly unstructured. Remarkable images bordering on surreal, capturing those quiet moments that we see but we’re not quite sure if anyone else is seeing. TC
Had this not been classified as a short documentary, I would have guessed it was straight up science fiction. “All Inclusive” is like witnessing the decadence of Rome right before the collapse. This short reads equal parts opulent vacation fantasy and abject consumerist horror. It’s one logo away from a cruise liner commercial, and I love everything about it. LDLO
It seems to me that a cruise vacation brings together everything that makes up our consumer society. It is an image of our decadent society in a confined space, a microcosm in which opposites of our time meet: wealth on poverty, mass on loneliness, nature on artificiality and culture on commerce. A full time entertainment machinery that leaves nothing but satisfied guests and polluted seas.
ALMA IN THE HEARD
Dir. Agnese Làposi (Switzerland, 2019) 24:50
Alma, thirteen years old, visits her older sister, who lives in a commune in the countryside. A stolen cow and a young man live in the garden of the house. The young girl struggles to come to terms with this new reality.
It’s calm and quiet and feels like eavesdropping. I really like this style of film, and I think it’s well done here. Totally captures that liminal feeling of being a guest in a shared/community space. Self important young people in communes are living proof that superficially dropping normative societal conventions isn’t the brave, world changing act they purport it to be. To me, the two sides of the real world dystopian coin are capitalist realism and communist fakeism. TC
It’s an outsider-looking-in snapshot of a supposed utopia that, despite the best of intentions, fails to meaningfully depart from the outside world that it aims to reject. KF
Dir. Lidieth Arevalo. (USA, 2019) 25:22- Short Documentary
From the shadows to the spotlight, an undocumented American artist defies his greatest fears and shares his life onstage while touring the country.
Dir. Jakob Rørvik (Norway, 2020) 20:00
In Apocalypse Norway, 19-year-old Oda and her friends find themselves isolated in her family summer home as a deadly disease takes over the world. As the virus creeps insidiously closer, she documents their coming to terms with death, history, and the limits of meaning on social media. The characters in the film, much like many of us in the real world, sense that the apocalypse is coming without being able to reach their loved ones other than through a screen. They face an invisible, yet ubiquitous threat that seems insurmountable, just like COVID-19 did in the first months of the pandemic. As we consider the nature of the apocalypse at Zeitgeist 2021, Apocalypse Norway suggests that the most important things are to care for those around us and embrace the time we have left to the fullest. LL
AUTOBIOGRAPHY | SILENCE
Dir. Natasa Teofilovic (Serbia, 2019) 2:09- experimental
Living by my own, I start my old family house reconstruction.
Last 15 years I am taking a care of the roses and basilisk which are over 40 years old. Previously, that was my grandmother work.
Plants remain. Life continues. The missing parts of the walls are replaced with green.
From white to white.
Dir. Maja Gehrig (Switzerland, 2019) 7:03- Animation
During a PowerPoint presentation, statistical diagrams are breaking free from the strait-jacket of their coordinates. A trip into the sensual world of statistics begins. Pie charts are melting, arrow diagrams twisting, scatter plots, bar graphs and stock market curves join in a collective climax.
The clever visuals in this are stunning and I feel that it makes a point about the futility (and even counterproductivity) in trying to map human happiness mathematically. KF
Reminds me of John’s powerful monologue in Romero’s Day of the Dead about the futility of keeping records: “We don’t believe in what you’re doing here, Sarah. Hey, you know what they keep down here in this cave? Man, they got the books and the records of the top 100 companies. They got the Defense Department budget down here. And they got the negatives for all your favorite movies. They got microfilm with tax return and newspaper stories. They got immigration records, census reports, and they got the accounts of all the wars and plane crashes and volcano eruptions and earthquakes and fires and floods and all the other disasters that interrupted the flow of things in the good ole U.S. of A. Now what does it matter, Sarah darling? All this filing and record keeping? We ever gonna give a shit? We even gonna get a chance to see it all? This is a great, big, 14 mile *tombstone! With an epitaph on it that nobody gonna bother to read. Now, here you come. Here you come with a whole new set of charts and graphs and records. What you gonna do? Bury them down here with all the other relics of what… once… was? ” At the end of the world, who’s going to excavate it all and make sense of who we were? Mindless bureaucracy. AN
Dir. Danilo Stanimirović (Serbia, 2019) 20:00
Strahinja has just finished acting school and works as a clown in a kid’s playhouse. Bambiland was a big amusement park in his home town which was thriving when he was a child. Now, it is an abandoned, creepy place and as such, represents a metaphor for Strahinja’s generation in Serbia.
The director mention’s in his statement what living in Serbia today feels like : “We all live in ruined amusement park, and all we have left is a memory of carefree childhood.” Is the Serbian “Apocalypse” a slow decay of a nostalgic yesteryear? What other spaces are similar to these in our respective countries that only but 20-30 years ago were thriving with life and now are nothing but a shell…abandoned and forgotten spaces of who we once were? I see the malls I frequented in the 80s and 90s as ancient ruins of a forgotten civilization. Is my identity spent in those spaces reflected in the archeological ruins? AN
Dir. Cengiz Akayguen* Zeitgeist Alumnus (Germany, 2019) 7:50
As THE BARBER is just in the middle of his routine of tidying and closing his shop with his assistant (Justine), a dark-skinned, bearded man comes in. The frightened stranger obviously seems to be fleeing from something. By chance he encounters the establishment of the barber. Every man knows that you should take your time choosing a barber. Especially as a beard bearer. Because in this case it is not an ordinary barber. For him It does not just depend on what you have on your face, but rather what you wear underneath. But what intentions does the barber really have? And what meaning does the beard have for the guest?
This one caused much debate among the screening committee, which is why at the end of the day, I chose to include it. Perhaps it will add to the debate at the screening as to the true intent of this film. (Which was the subject of debate….intent vs. reception (message received by the viewer) AN
BEETLE IN THE ANTHILL
Dir. Vasily Efremov (Russian Federation, 2019) 12:56-Animation
Once it was decided to demolish a zoo and to let all its inhabitants go free. The lonely elephant wanders along the big city and makes friends with a homeless.
A heartfelt retelling of the primal desire to find belonging, whether herd or tribe. Sound design elevated the simple but endearing illustrated animation, with strong pacing to boot. KS
THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD
Dir. Irina Tarasova (Belarus, 2019) 13:21- Animation
Young mouse-ling, upon hearing the tale of a wonderful Granary full of seeds, where mice live without worries, leaves his home in the burrows to find this wondrous place..
BIRDS WITHOUT WINGS
Dir. Rishabh Thakkar. (USA, 2020) 24:34-Short Documentary
Two adults who grew up in the slums of Delhi strive to give new wings to the kids bounded by the shackles of poverty, drugs, and society.
Dir. Måns Berthas. (Sweden, 2016) 15:00
Lukas, a young dedicated metal head, is visiting his recently departed grandfather at the hospital. Despite the bloodline, he doesn’t want the old man to be buried in the family grave. Dark secrets come to light, and when opportunity comes, he seeks revenge.
Every moment of the film is strong and effective. Every shot and line of dialogue is revealing, every performance believable, every turn unexpected but furthering the plot. I have no particular interest in metal music and know very little about the scene or culture of it, but I was fascinated with this story from the first moment and found myself strongly moved. The gravity of the story gave more weight to the music and the makeup. Aesthetically, the film presents a stark contrast between the antiseptic white hospital and the darker tones of the protagonist’s death metal aesthetic, the darker elements bleeding into the environment of the film as the story progressed. While the plot was relatively simple, the story represented so much more, unfolding into a tense drama about trauma and legacies of abuse. The ending brought about the hope of solidarity, victim empowerment, and bringing an end to cycles of abuse, all without coming off as pandering or inauthentic. I found this film extremely moving and will be thinking about it for a long time. TC
BLOOD AND GLORY
Dir. Satinder Kaur (USA, 2019) 12:00
Two homeless, female veterans’ friendship is tested when they confront adversity, discrimination, and even mother nature itself in their attempt to find work and get through the day.
Director’s Statement: This story is really close to my heart because I’m a combat veteran myself. I joined the Army when I was 18, and deployed to Iraq when I was 21. Transitioning back to civilian life was difficult, but I was lucky to have a community and resources. Here in LA, we’ve seen a steady rise in the number of women who end up homeless after they leave the military. One day, while volunteering on Skid Row, I saw a veteran walking down the street and she had a large period stain on her back. I was shocked and disheartened. That image buried itself in the filaments of my brain. It was then that I realized that when you’re homeless or living below the poverty line, lack of access to feminine hygiene products can really chip away at your dignity. Yet, there aren’t many stories about these experiences. So I wrote Blood and Glory to explore this inter-sectionality of invisibility through film.
Dir. Matt Thiesen and Justin Lee. (USA, 2019) 10:27
Since the dawn of Hollywood, an evil being has lurked in the shadows, feeding off the insecurities of auditioning actors and actresses. It has grown stronger over the decades, consuming hopes and dreams with reckless abandon. But in 2019, has it finally met its match?
A high-energy, Little Shop of Horrors-esque romp through Hollywood’s sexist history and its naïve actors’ woeful saga. Packed with campy humor through a progressive lens, this female led short is a refreshing crowd pleaser. KS
Dir. Måns Berthas (Sweden, 2015) 19:00
Harsh midwinter. A frozen marriage in a remote cabin. An man from the past returns to seek revenge, and long lost feelings come alive. A wordless battle begins and the eternal triangle finally comes to an end.
From opening scene to final picture, Champion held its viewers tightly in its grasp. Production design, cinematography, and acting provided the perfectly abandoned, cloistered world for this plot to develop, and develop it did, with many unexpected plot points and turns. The acting was by far the strongest element, every emotion and reaction was crystal clear from the three actors with not a word of spoken dialogue, also giving a nod to the cohesiveness of the script. Lighting, framing, costuming, set design, and sound were all mastered and exhibited great attention to detail. I could not find a weak moment of this short film. KS
Dir. Vytautas Katkus (Lithuania, 2019) 15:00
Patriarchal masculinity seems to catch its last breath in the sun. A story about a cold relationship between a father and his son. Their bond, plagued by indifference, disintegrates completely.
Diluted colors and lucid pacing envelope the viewer into this familiar yet alien world of summer lethargy and disingenuous familial relationships. Visual elements and soundscape are rich in comparison to the dialogue, which seems peripheral to the story. Blatantly powerful symbology contained in the final image of father and son standing before a burning house while their own relationship has gone up in flames.
Dir. Jef Taylor (USA, 2008) 34:23
The events and subsequent media coverage of September 11th, 2001 create a sexual obsession that threatens to destroy a relationship.
A great article about the film:https://www.undergroundfilmjournal.com/short-film-coverage/
Dir. Anthony Nti (Ghana, 2019) 20:00
*93rd Academy Awards Short Listed Film
A foreigner in Ghana gets an assignment from his gang to find kids for a risky job that will take place later that evening. While spending the day with two energetic children, Prince and Matilda, he starts to question his decision and how it will affect their lives.
DARE 2 DISTURB
Dir. Paul Rees (UK, 2020) 3:10 Experimental
A film examining the effects of “Lockdown” on the soul, and the need for human connection. The experience here is shown through the imagination of others.
I thought this would be a great short before Night of the Comet, just to remind us that after we are long gone, remnants of our late capitalism culture will endure. AN
Dir. Loris Lamunière and Charles Mercier (France, 2019) 13:24- Experimental
This fictional animal mockumentary places us in a distant imaginary future where life underwater as we know it today has been completely replaced by a new generation of species, made of plastic.
Dir. Daria Kashcheeva (Czech Republic, 2019) 14:50- Animation
Should you hide your pain? Close yourself inside your inner world, full of longing for your father’s love and its displays? Or should you understand and forgive before it is too late?
In a hospital room, the Daughter recalls a childhood moment when as a little girl she tried to share her experience with an injured bird with her Father. A moment of misunderstanding and a lost embrace has stretched into many years all the way to this hospital room, until the moment when a window pane breaks under the impact of a little bird.
This film was nominated for Best Animated Short Film in the 92nd Academy Awards, 2020.
Dir. Nir Berger (Israel, 2019) 4:00- Animation
Dead End is an animated comedy web series set in a post-apocalyptic Israel. The year is 2020 and Jerusalem has been decimated by a nuclear war. Bickering teenage siblings Yarden and Kineret travel what remains of the city in search of their little brother who went missing in the aftermath of the bombing. In their travels they encounter various survivors of what was once Israel, only to find that very little had actually changed.
Dir. Thomas Revell (New Zealand, 2020) 2:44- Animation
The arrival of a new piece on the mantelpiece causes drama between an old ornamental couple. With tensions high, the couple breaks up and anger leads to death at the hands of the spurned lover
The latest from our dear friend and alumnus, composer, Donna Kavanagh!
DO YOU LIKE POETRY?
Dir. Eduardo Mattos. (Brazil, 2020) 15:00
Filmed in Sao Paulo in January 2020, just before the pandemic, in a faded metropolitan landscape with glass and concrete facade buildings, Do You Like Poetry? accompanies the daily routine of Roberto during a stress crisis. From a hypnotic and desolate perspective, with short dialogues, black humor and an atmosphere of surrealism, the film proposes to the viewer to imagine the possibilities and the effects of a hyper-real, often dystopian concept. The audience is placed directly immersed in an absurd situation, having to gradually get used to thinking of it as something common and inherent in the story.
The city is one of the main narrative elements of the film, and part of Roberto’s conflict is knowing how to deal with the difficulties of living in a large metropolis. Roberto asks the audience the following question: do you prefer to live in an invented reality, or do you prefer to see the world as it really is?
Dir. Faiyaz Jafri (USA, 2019) 7:45- Animation/Experimental
A Post-ironic solution for Baudrillard’s problem of the irreplaceability of the Twin Towers, transcending space and place driven by their vernacularity in virtuality. A film about the end of the world as we know it.
A bit “Welcome to the Desert of the Real” splashed with Beyond the Mind’s Eye. Was the beginning of the end 9/11? AN
DUTCH ANGLE: Chas Gerretsen & Apocalypse Now
Dir. Baris Azman (Netherlands, 2019) 31:45- Short Documentary
In 1976 Francis Ford Coppola invited Dutch war photographer, Chas Gerretsen, to capture everything on the set of Apocalypse Now. These photographs have been archived at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, most of which have never been seen before. Until now. Rotterdam-based cinema KINO and the Nederlands Fotomuseum joined forces to unearth this archive.
Dir. Diana Acién Manzorro (Spain, 2019) 5:29- Animation
ECHOES tells the story of a factory depressed worker who suffers an episode of dissociation.
This is like the lead animator of Veggie Tales trying to work their way through an existential crisis.
Effective, eerie, and a nice little commentary on the monotonous self-medicating futility of modern life. LDLO
Dir. Eduardo Gallardo (Mexico, 2020) 9:13- Animation
Suffer, Madness, Illness, Love, Hate. What are we really made of?
Surrounded by the dark, A man experiences visions about the inside and outside of his being as he removes him his “liar faces” which lead him into an introspective struggle that will reveal the true nature of his existence.
Dir. Karlis Vitols (Latvia, 2019) 11:00- Animation
A crisis of a middle aged man who finds himself trapped in his memories, trying to cope with the physical and mental feeling of impending end.
A delightful animation reminiscent of the ‘choose your own adventure’ books we all enjoyed as children, where no ending is specified but all are welcomed. Full of lush colors, these parallel universes collide haphazardly, anchored by a lone black bedroom, allowing the viewer to engage in the simple complexity of this short. KS
Dir. Alibi Mukushev (Kazakhstan, 2019) 2:50- Animation
Always cleaning up after people’s messes…we can all identify with the little eraser….ANI took this as a statement on not being obstructionist (which is pretty relevant to what’s going on in the world right now). Spending your time and efforts undoing what other’s have done will ultimately wear you down, and leave no lasting legacy. Or maybe it’s about the futility of trying to stop change? Then again, it could be about the utter pointlessness of trying to go against the majority… LDLO
Dir. Will Ammann (USA, 2020) 18:14- Experimental
A young woman finds herself trapped in a surreal wasteland, and must discover the secret to escape.
A Plague Doctor in a film? Sign us up! Plus a Chapman showcase film! AN
DIr. Tamás Rebák (Hungary, 2019) 7:43- Animation
An astronaut awakens in an abandoned cave of a strange planet. An interstellar vagabond, so to say. A light path leads him to the surface, where he looks at his compass and heads for his spaceship. He keeps glancing back, treading nervously, looking afraid. He has been chased by a creature for a long time, and his only way to break free is to escape this curious planet.
THE EVENING THREAD
Dir. iris moore (Canada, 2019) 10:19- Animation
An old woman prepares to die. Accompanied by her granddaughter, she reflects on the memories of her life, and on the profound experience of being human, before taking the next step into the unknown.
Beautiful piece of animation with a poignant message about personal history and identity narrative. As it pertains to the festival, I think so much of current media concerns itself with identity, sense of self, and our individual impact on the external world, and this piece does an excellent job of representing those concerns/obsessions. It’s an accessible metaphor and a well crafted short. LDLO
THE FANTASTIC GARDEN
Dir. Fábio Baldo and Tico Dias (Brazil, 2020) 20:00
An indigenous teacher implements the use of Ayahuasca in her classes in order to connect her students to another reality. During a ritual, one of the children comes upon a weird gear in the forest.
FOODS FOR COPING
Dir. Zoey Zhao (New Zealand, 2020) 11:31
A Chinese single mother, Hui, grapples with the fallout of discovering her 16-year-old daughter’s pregnancy. Headstrong and brilliant, Yilin refuses to terminate her pregnancy and safeguard her future. As the two are caught in a violent impasse, Hui calls on help from the mother of Yilin’s boyfriend — an act that may jeopardize her relationship with her daughter forever.
Dir. Corrie Francis Parks. (USA, 2019) 5:45- Experimental
A multitude of mini-universes collide in this tiny world built with money and sand. What you observe, and the meaning you derive from that observation, depends on where you start your journey. Look closely, it’s all in the details..
By meshing money, an entirely human endeavor, with rock and sand, the film both questions and celebrates intermingling between people and Earth as they flow together through the scenes. It asks if the journey will end without overwhelming despair. KF
Dir. Lioba von den Driesch (Germany, 2020) 4:14- Animation
A traveler falls into the vortex of tightened security controls and does not get away with it unscathed but at least lightly.
Pretty much the perfect metaphor or our post 9/11, post-pandemic society…you just can’t win….AN
Dir. Ragini Bhasin (USA, India, 2019) 14:49
A 13-year-old Afghan refugee hustles around in a refugee camp, trying to survive the harsh circumstances as she experiences her period.
A snapshot of the fight to survive in a refugee camp centered around a young girl as she comes of age in less than savory circumstances. Detail shots and intelligent sound design captivate the viewer, reminiscent of a narrative style more than a typical documentary, and elicits an intimate experience and emotional response. KS
Dir. Saulius Baradinskas (Lithuania, 2019) 20:00
When a heart attack strikes, a person has exactly ten minutes to be saved by the people around him. In medicine, this short period of time is called “Golden Minutes”. Liudas has decided to hang himself. But he can’t do it until his apartment is clean and tidy, so he decides to take out the trash. Liudas takes the trash to a waste container next to a bus stop. But just as he reaches the container, Liudas collapses. He is struck by a heart attack. As Liudas is laying on the ground without any signs of life, the street around him is lively as usual: a jogger is looking for his dog, people are running to catch a bus to work, musicians in a hurry for a rehearsal step over Liudas, mistaking him for a homeless man. None of them, including an ambulance driving by, pay attention to Liudas, whose Golden Minutes are ticking away.
Dir. Anna Mantzaris. (UK, 2018) 8:34- Animation
After a young woman is responsible for a hit and run, strange and spooky things starts to happen… A small thriller about people that are not always the best at making decisions.
Dir. Paul Marques Duarte (France, 2018) 24:55
When Adèle, an English teacher, spontaneously lets a young 15 years old migrant, illegally board a ferry for England with her class, she is far from grasping the importance of her gesture and its consequences on this overnight trip.
Dir. Tihoni Brčić. (Croatia, 2020) 6:47- Animation
Spikiney is a hardworking and altruistic hedgehog who runs a soup kitchen for the needy community. The food disappears one winter night, endangering their existence. Spikiney friends – the old monkey with a cane, the orphan squirrel, a strayed bird and the beaver with a rubber flipper for a tail bravely join him on the quest to find the stolen food. They suspect a monster is the thief. The trail takes them to the ominous cave, where they need to bravely confront the monster…
Dir. Emu Haynes. (USA, 2019) 3:55
Delilah, a lively 60-year-old, attempts to rekindle her desire for human connection when she hears a song being played at a college party next door.
Dir. Ido Shapira and Amit Cohen (Israel, 2018) 5:47- Animation
The life of a dog, trained to act as human, changes when a pack of Hounds gathers around his house.
A memorable sketch short film of finding ones place in a world they don’t feel like they belong in, a primal need told in the most primal of voices. Strong art design and engaging pacing. KS
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING
Dir. Aaron Holmes (USA, 2019) 5:00- Animation
A poem of hope, despite looming apocalypses. Wonder at human flight curdles into dread; abstract fears of world-spanning system collapse become tangible in the bond between parent and child. Constructed by mining through airline safety pamphlets in search of buried meanings, resulting in a juxtaposition of ancient destruction myths, contemporary iconography, and expectations of a brighter, stranger human future.
HOW TO GET $100 MILLION
Dir. Ilya Polyakov (USA, 2020) 9:23
A disenchanted young woman ascribes to the get-rich-quick advice of self-help guru – only to learn the cost of getting exactly what you want.
Dir. Amélie Cochet and Louis Möhrle. (Switzerland, 2019) 6:10- Animation
IHR (THEM) is the story about a building with an inner courtyard an its inhabitants. While the different character follow their everyday routines, trash slowly begins to pile up in the courtyard. What seems harmless in the beginning, one night escalates to a total disaster.
A riveting short film on the consequences of unbridled global waste habits from the perspective of a frail old woman, representative of our burdened earth. Symbolism in this short is moving, and the sketched animation allows for an experimental style that works. Editing is clean and avante garde, and foley sound is crisp and textured. There is no dialogue, which heightens the rest of the senses. KS
Dir. Wiep Teeuwisse (Netherlands, 2019) 8:21- Animation
During a sunny holiday, a flock of tourists struggle to let go of their busy city lives, and the absence of daily tasks leaves them lost in an uncomfortable and frightening place.
Once they learn to slow down, they may find some beauty in the here and now.
A surreal look at the uneasy pace of modern life, and the even more uneasy concept of what “free time” has become. The animation style is reminiscent of Yellow Submarine, and the sound design plunges you into a technological hellscape. LDLO
I THINK WE’RE HEADED FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
Dir. Simon Schneckenburger. (Germany, 2020) 16:10
Emil is 18 and wants to become a priest when he is conscripted into Reich Labour Service in 1941. His journey takes him from the Black Forest all the way to Russia. More than 400 letters to his family and friends have stood the test of time until today.
This moving tribute to the filmmaker’s grandfather, a priest who fought in World War 2, is communicated through readings of his letters. The voiceover paired with ethereal, glossy visuals presented a unique way to translate the universal suffering inflicted by the act of war, regardless of whose side you’re on. Cinematography was the standout, with Gaussian blur effect used at all the right times, and breathy, dreamy lighting composition. . Overall, the true story element combined with meditative shot structure and a soundtrack reminiscent of a lullaby, drew a lasting emotional response. KS
Dir. Michael Frei (Switzerland, 2019) 9:00- Animation
An animated short exploring group dynamics. How do we define ourselves when we are all equal?
I’m not sure if I just watched a thought-provoking exploration of identity in an overpopulated society, or an animated recollection of someone looking at a Keith Haring painting a little too hard while tripping balls. Visually striking. LDLO
Dir. Manuel Marmier (France, 2019) 25:00
*One of the best of the fest
Kiko, a Japanese illustrator on assignment in France, gets suddenly overwhelmed by a strange inspiration, while she realizes she’s been spying on a gay couple on the beach next to the chapel where she’s working. Obsessed by such a vision, she will spy on those men and draw them secretly. This will slowly push her towards an encounter that will change her life and breaks her social rules.
Dir. SHYAMA SUNDAR MAJHI (India, 2019) 24:52
Kukli is a village girl who belongs to an indigenous community of rural India. The lively little girl is known for her endless questions and curiosity towards anything unknown to her. But one fine day she suddenly stopped talking to everyone. No one had any clue about her silence. Her parents, villagers, and school teacher have tried a lot to find out her doubt. But they all remained speechless when they heard her foremost unanswered question.
This is a well made and absolutely charming, with an excellent message. The fact that the filmmaker is actually from this tribal community in India, and that he cast only natives from the community (not actors) is impressive, as the performances are natural and endearing. LDLO
LA MORT, PERE & FILS
Dir. Vincent Paronnaud and Denis Walgenwitz (France, 2017) 11:00- Animation
Death is re-imagined as a devoted family man whose son doesn’t entirely understand his family’s role in the grand scheme of things. As Dad tends to his duties, the boy performs a series of well-meaning acts with hilariously disastrous consequences.
THE LAST TOUCH
Dir. Melissa Mars (USA, 2020) 4:24
We are so connected that we are disconnected…
THE LEGENT OF PSALTRY
Dir. Tatiana Kublitskaya (Belarus, 2019) 10:00- Animation
Brave heart and magic power of music stop war.
The animation style is unique and charming. The story is simplistic, like a fairy-tale, but it deals with important universal themes like the dehumanization of war and the innocent brilliance of children. TC
Dir. Vincent Groos (Belgium, Netherlands, 2019) 17:11
Starting out as a home nurse, Lieve braves the windy weather on her moped to assist her elderly patients. She has a big heart and tries her hardest to fulfill the wishes of all her patients to the best of her abilities. The biggest challenge she now faces is learning to respect her own boundaries.
A powerful reminder that you can’t bear the weight of this world on your own, and that you also can’t be everything to everyone. It also shows the struggle of empaths and of feeling the need to appoint yourself a savior. Beautiful shots, and a good message! AH
Powerful and well made film. Everything shown in the film is essential as we go through a day in the life of a tragically overtaxed caretaker. The film captures a crucial moment in this young woman’s life as she gains the strength necessary to stop being so much of a pushover. The film feels relevant as it pertains to healthcare and the burdens placed on healthcare workers in a fast paced world that often overlooks the individual and exploits the labor of those who simply care too much for their own good. TC
LOVE ME, FEAR ME
Dir. Veronica Solomon (Germany, 2018) 6:06- Animation
LOVE ME, FEAR ME is a dance metaphor about the roles we play and the shapes we take, about the stages we chose, the audience we try to impress and the price of acceptance.
Dir. Alexe Landgren (Sweden, 2019) 13:28
Sara is staying the night at a friend’s house. Her friend is away, but late at night Oskar, the teenage son, comes home. Sara and Oskar begins to talk, talking leads to flirting and flirting to kissing. Sara is not able to stop, not even when Oskar gets uneasy and wants out. He has to force himself away from Sara, and only when he disappears in his room does she understand what she’s done.
Dir. Stavros Markoulakis (Greece, 2019) 17:19
After an important surgery Maria returns to her family home to recover. Living with her mother, her sister and a newborn baby. While Maria’s body starts healing, a deeply hidden desire of hers surfaces. Maria wants to come close to the baby, and this creates a serious threat to the “safety” of the family home.
Magnetic TapeDir. Diego Cruz Cilveti (Mexico, 2020) 23:00
A father and son reunion reveals the unavoidable changes in their relationship, unleashing materialized memories from their past that will guide an exploration
through fatherhood and expectations, as they try to recover what once was.
I liked the contemplative nature of this. I loved the intro..like all of my memories and identity ..obsolete…in a dirty body of water, forgotten by time. AN
Dir. Firas Khoury. (Germany and State of Palestine, 2019) 20:00
During the 1990 World Cup, two young Palestinian boys are looking for “Maradona’s legs”; the last missing sticker that they need in order to complete their world cup album and win a free Atari.
Dir. Farnoosh Abedi (Islamic Republic of Iran, 2020) 10:00 Animation
Music was his passion…
Love was his masterpiece…
Absolutely fantastic! Such a fantastic storyline, from beginning to end… So unsettling, but in a good way. Loved the way this was made, and the sound design was fantastic. Boxie
Absolutely stunning all around; the clay stop-animation and special FX were gorgeous, the music and sound design was perfect, and the message and themes were so creatively displayed. Highly recommended !! AH
This short is a fast paced animated thriller that preys on the darker side of love and the unsavory consequences of sacrifice. Lighting, sound design, and meticulous clay animation provided a gripping environment for an unforgettable story. KS
THE MARCH OF THE MISSING
Dir. Marcos Almada Rivero (Mexico, 2019) 10:00- Animation
In a city built of iron and steel, an anthropomorphic pigeon watches a magnificent parade from his window. Another character with the face of a fox is photographing the event, focusing on its darker side. The parade consists of hooded characters carrying banners of their great leader, throwing gifts to the cheering, jubilant onlookers from their monstrous floats. The great leader himself, a monarch with the face of a donkey, watches the city along with his assistants from the height of his impressive carriage, and when a group of dissenters dares to confront them, the authorities will not hesitate to deploy their methods to eliminate any form of opposition. Fox and Pigeon become complicit witnesses of this parade of the missing.
THE MARVELOUS MISADVENTURES OF THE STONE LADY
Dir. Gabriel Abrantes (France, 2019) 20:00- Animation
Tired of being a banal architectural ornament, a sculpture runs away from the Louvre to confront real life on the streets of Paris.
I have never related to a stone statue more, in all of my life….AN
Dir. Daria Godyń (Poland, 2020) 8:17- Animation
For centuries, the man was accompanied by anxiety about the new Millennium. It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 – “The end of the world” is approaching. Catastrophe, uncertainty and the thickening atmosphere of the millennium paranoia are the subjects that animation deals with. The film refers to the convention of criminal noir cinema.
With a captivatingly simple animation style, this stylish thriller captures a Bradbury-esque dystopian 1990s nightmare. Layered in meaning that would surely take multiple viewings to pick apart, this is a riveting and effective short. TC
Polish Y2K Rear Window…this is something you would watch at an art house at 1 am stoned out of your mind… A
Dir. Ciani Rey Walker. (USA, 2020) 18:12
When they learn their friend has kidnapped a cop on the night of MLK Jr.’s assassination, two sisters and leaders of the Black Panther Party must set aside their differences to navigate one of the most turbulent nights in history.
Dir. Zhao Lin (China, 2019) 11:15- Animation/Experimental
A housewife loses her mind when shopping, degenerates into an animal.
This animated short can be most easily described as panic inducing. It tackles the subject of consumerism in a creative an unsettling way. LDLO
Dir. Arseny Nazaruk (Russian Federation, 2020) 19:45
A lonely woman tries to enter relationships, but every attempt to become closer with a new partner ends up with a deep trauma. After a series of failures to share her love with her beloved ones, she decides to literally share it with the whole world by becoming a prostitute.
Dir. Janne Janssens (Belgium, 2018) 4:41- Animation
Guus has a label. Wearing this label weights on him. Every day he has to endure severe bullying. During playtime he is always sitting alone on the same bench. Until one day a girl sits down next to him on the bench and shares her secret
Dir. Davis Chang (USA/Taiwan, 2020) 12:43
In a dystopian future, where the perception of time can be manipulated, a man tries to escape his 450-year sentence which was judged by his nation’s tyrannical government.
THE NEW GUY
Dir. Boris Schaarschmidt (USA, 2019) 4:04
“Work and don’t ask questions”. In this dystopian world, Parker has just started working a desk job at a new company. Together with his experienced colleague Tobias, he needs to process strange files. But the new guy is a little distracted by the big, red button on the wall that says: DO NOT PUSH!
NOT SO GRIM
Dir. Narissa Amies (Australia, 2019) 5:27- Animation
When the Grim Reaper’s child, Rei, befriends an accident-prone crow, he makes it his mission to keep the crow alive at all costs! But when the crow drowns, the only way that Rei thinks to save him is by refilling the crow’s ‘Hourglass of Life’ with dirt – instead of life- giving sand! However, when Grim catches Rei in the act, he has a slightly “grimmer” solution to Rei and Crow’s dilemma.
Not So Grim is a heart-warming tale of friendship and defying the limits of life and death told through the eyes of the most unexpected protagonist: the Grim Reaper’s son. Animation is solidly professional and the color palette is playful despite the subject material. KS
Dir. Matthew Wassong (USA, 2019) 10:07
In the near future, Earth has completely run out of fresh water. In a world of dehydration and desperation, a curious young man and a mysterious woman both go to great lengths to get the one thing everyone needs to survive.
PERHAPS I’M ALREADY DEAD
Dir. Tonia Mishiali (Cyprus, 2020) 3:00- Experimental
March 2020. Lockdown during the pandemic. Homebound. Dreams. Thoughts. Feelings. Fear of death.
Having been experiencing sleep paralysis for years, I share a day in my ‘isolated’ life during the quarantine.
POSTCARDS FROM THE END OF THE WORLD
Dir.Konstantinos Antonopoulos. (Greece, 2019) 23:15
Trapped in their marriage, Dimitra and Dimitris try to endure their summer vacation with their two daughters on a remote island. Unexpectedly, human civilization collapses.
Great film. I love the atmosphere. This film perfectly captures the feeling of surreal, drawn out panic of a modern day apocalypse situation. I love the details, like the constant vaping. This film really speaks to the moment, as everyone has now had the experience of coming to terms with a global catastrophe situation and then having to move on from there. TC
Dir. John Humphreys. (USA, 2020) 18:39
When an anti-android activist is invited to speak at a pro-android event, her fight to expose the true danger of AI takes a disastrous turn.
Dir. Aleksandr Khant (Russian Federation, 2020) 14:20
Irina works as an accountant. In the middle of a coronavirus pandemic she decides to go to the office to transfer salaries to the company’s employees. However, her plan falls apart when she meets Boris, the paranoid security guard who protects the office not only from robbers but also from the virus itself.
We knew there was going to be an onslaught of Coronavirus themed films this year, and there were… this one though is fantastic, it has comedy, heart and the hope we all need to seriously stick together in this confusing and fear ridden global phenomenon. It truly comments on how important it is to do the right thing, even when the law or the public at large says otherwise. The well known actress in Russia, Irina Pegova, adds delightful depth and humor to the lead role. For a film produced thousands of miles away in Russia, to speak to the humanity of the universal spirit and to resonate with our staff, this short truly deserves the title as one of the “Best of the Fest”! AN
THE RECYCLING MAN
Dir. Carlo Ballauri (Italy, 2020) 13:25
In a crowded, yet lonely suburban neighborhood, Jacob (Benjamin Ainsworth – “Haunting of Bly Manor”), a boy immobilized in a wheelchair, fights boredom by spying on his neighbors across the courtyard. Sarah, a girl of the same age, spots him out and says hello with a piece of paper. The new friendship is suddenly interrupted when a menacing man approaches the girl and attacks her from behind with a screwdriver. Jacob, even though he is stuck in his chair, will try everything to help the little girl. But is the boy really witnessing a murder with his binoculars, or is he just not seeing the whole picture?
ROBERT THE ROBOT
Dir. Jonathan Irwin. (UK, 2020) 4:00- Animation
In the near future, the problem of domestic chores will be solved by artificially intelligent cleaning droids. Every home will have at least one.
This short tells the story of an old cleaning droid – a ROB 9000 domestic model – as he passes a boring Tuesday alone in an empty house, waiting for his owners to return. By focusing on the robot’s self-awareness, loneliness and dog-like love of his owners, we have created a beautiful tone poem that makes people feel sympathy for a humble hunk of metal.
Dir. Tessa Germaine (USA, 2020) 17:25
In 1943 America, factory worker Rose Donnelly must stand up for her female co-workers when their supervisor ignores blatant harassment and refuses to treat them as equals to their male co-workers
Dir. Marie Larrivé and Lucas Malbrun (France, 2019) 3:48- Animation
A strange multicolored cloud born from a melting ice-cap appears in a small sea-side town. At first intrigued, the inhabitants are soon enraptured by the supernatural powers of the cloud. And with good reason. The rain transforms its surroundings in unexpected ways.
Dir. Mohammad Reza Khavari (Islamic Republic of Iran, 2020) 13:00
In the course of Iran’s ban on women’s presence in football stadiums, Saba, 22, disguises herself as a boy to sneak into the stadium at her father’s suggestion. Her father takes her to a traditional cafe instead of the stadium. Asking her how hard it is to hide her true identity, he lets her—now impersonating a boy—in on the secret that he realized he could not be a man any more when Saba was three, but he had to hide it for years to let her daughter feel having a father. On the pretext of helping her enter the stadium, he creates a circumstance where his daughter has to put herself into his shoes, thereby hiding her true identity. He then tells her that he intends to continue living with his true identity from now on.
Dir. Ksenia Mikhailenko (Russian Federation, 2019) 12:43- Animation
Saglana gets left alone in wild taiga after her grandmother’s death. There is only her blind grandfather, who used to be a hunter. Once upon a time she sees a fairy bird in a window…
Dir. Arjan Brentjes (Netherlands, 2020) 9:50- Animation
In a heavily polluted world, a young woman mourns the disappearance of animal species. When she falls ill due to a bacterial infection, nature appears to send her a message in her hallucinations.
This was very enjoyable, and relatively relevant for today’s situation (but let’s hope it doesn’t come that far). Creative to add the “daily list of extinct animals” on the news, albeit a tad sad of course. I really liked this one. Boxie
Dir. bellopropello (Switzerland, 2019) 13:50- Animation
The diverse communication options offered by a cell phone influence our social and consumer behavior. Excessive use changes the design of <head-down people’s> life and lifestyle habits.
Dir. Vlad Bolgarin (Republic of Moldova, 2019) 15:00- Animation
This is the story of a grey man who is always sighing. Living in a grey city, covered in smog, he keeps on sighing until he dries out and becomes skin and bones. But even in the darkest corners of the soul, there is light and color.
Dir. Joe Chen (USA. 2020) 24:10
Ocean, a gay man with an extraordinary sense of smell has a fleeting acquaintance with a man who smells perfect to him and falls obsessively in love by recreating the scents. However, he starts to doubt his talent when he finds out the person who carries the scent is different from his imagination.
Dir. Farzaneh Omidvarnia (Denmark and Islamic Republic of Iran, 2019) 11:43- Animation
It is about a real event which happened in Austria in August 2015, where flesh and bone of human and animal become intermingled.
This short movie may inspire the viewer to ask: “is it better to go or stay”, or more accurately: “is it worse to stay than to go? Is a large chunk of humanity entrapped by events befallen their lands many centuries before they were even born? Song Sparrow uses dolls to pose these questions. It is no less disturbing even though dolls have no life in them. But an attempt is made to show the situation faced by those that have no choice but to put their lives in peril to escape perils of staying, and to trade staying within chaos for a chaotic escape.
The 80s kid’s show aesthetic of this piece really adds to the horror of the narrative. A warm sense of nostalgia washes over you with the loveably eerie puppets and adorable miniature recreations of sets and objects…then you’re plunged into a visceral nightmare as you watch said puppets freeze to death in what is probably a depressingly real scenario. LD
Dir. Lovro Mrdjen. (Croatia, 2019) 18:00
The clock is ticking for a foreigner, an immigrant faced with the coldblooded bureaucracy of a foreign country, as he tries to prove he is related to his younger sister and prevent separation. Nobody hears their voices, lost in translation.
Dir. Cristina Sitja and Cristóbal León (Chile, 2019) 15:00- Animation
On a summer day the animals in the forest are invited to a party. They eat lots of cake and dance all night. When the party is over and they head back to their homes, they encounter a desolate landscape: there are no more trees to find food and refuge. Strange Creatures have stolen their homes, so the animals decide to go in search of them. What consequences do our actions have on other animals and plants? Strange Creatures tries to awaken in children and adults alike, empathy for other species and to question the role of human beings on this earth. It is also an attempt on making an animated short film which is educational as well as experimental, (a mix of) sweet and wild, as though it was shot by rabbits and bears.
Dir. Nick Jordan and Jacob Cartwright. (UK, 2018) 12:00 Experimental
Stratum is a film that navigates through post-industrial landscapes on the European Route of Industrial Heritage, from Britain’s abandoned South Yorkshire coal seams to the culturally re-purposed collieries of the Ruhr Valley, Germany, via the former coal-mining region of Wallonia, Belgium. Contrasting the past and present, contemporary scenes are combined with archival film material, alongside audio narration from Miserie au Borinage (directed by Henri Storck and Joris Ivens, 1934), made in the depths of the Great Depression.
Stratum frames the industrial, social and ecological genealogy of a pan-European region, capturing the environmental and structural transformation of post-industrial sites, where particular flora and fauna species have colonized the disturbed landscape.
Dir. Bjørn Melhus (Germany/Spain, 2019) 20:30- Experimental
SUGAR, an emotional robot with a soul, fights against the narcissism of socially deadened humans.
In a post-apocalyptic world not much unlike parts of the present, SUGAR (Frank Willens), a humanoid robot that can feel, think and dance, is sent to bring back a human touch to people. SUGAR finally encounters a HON (Human Organism Normal) (Bjørn Melhus), a post-influencer who poses in a sort of eternal commercial whilst existing in an underground techno cell. SUGAR tries to free HON from his prison of routines, speech and movement loops and hopes to build a true encounter – an interaction, a dialogue. The tragicomic narrative of this encounter and its failure raises general questions about consciousness, ego-turbo-capitalisms and the dream of the collective.
SUGAR is an experimental science fiction film,
Bjørn Melhus, born 1966, is a German-Norwegian media artist and film maker. In his work he has developed a singular position, expanding the possibilities for a critical reception of cinema and television. His practice of fragmentation, destruction, and reconstitution of well-known figures, topics, and strategies of the mass media opens up not only a network of new interpretations and critical commentaries, but also defines the relationship of mass media and viewer anew.
Originally rooted in an experimental film context, Bjørn Melhus’s work has been shown and awarded at numerous international film festivals. He has held screenings at Tate Modern and the LUX in London, the Museum of Modern Art (MediaScope) in New York, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, amongst others. His work has been exhibited in shows like The American Effect at the Whitney Museum New York, the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, solo and group shows at FACT Liverpool, Serpentine Gallery London, Sprengel Museum Hanover, Museum Ludwig Cologne, ZKM Karlsruhe, Denver Art Museum among others.
I love the Teletubbies-esque apocalyptic vibes that it gives off. KF
SURVIVAL 101: IN CASE OF COMPLETE DISAPPEARANCE
Dir. Jinyoung Kim (Canada, 2020) (In Korean w. english Subtitles) 14:42
The video documents a conversation between a family of three, in which they plan their survival in case the event of an apocalypse. The conversation revolves around an imaginary situation where they were would be the only human survivors of the situation and later, encountering an unknown being. Visually weaving the conversation through a the site of an urban development in South Korea, the narrative unfolds with the disclosure of one’s simulated response to the notions of migration, integration, and community.
This made me laugh because it made me consider my family’s arguments regarding what to do in the Apocalypse! I liked it because of the pace…also the role of FAMILY in the Apocalypse..and it is a perfect example of the beautiful, subtle humor of Korean cinema, AN
Dir. Maliheh Gholamzadeh (Islamic Republic of Iran, 2020) 7:35- Animation
“Tangle” is about the people who lost their homes in the war and was forced to leave all their memories and loved ones behind. It is also about life and striving to survive on the geographical borders of hope and depression while reaching for all the things that can connect us to this water and land in spite of constantly getting ignored and interrupted.
TO THE STARS
Dir. Štefánia Lovasová (Slovakia, 2019) 18:46
Instagram star Táňa perceives her life as a routine.. Into her world of colorful hairstyles and milkshakes enters Ari, her secret and very shy fan. But newly acquired friendship doesn’t need to save every falling star.
Never meet your heroes, so the saying goes…Not only does this short do an exceptional job of addressing the façade/reality dichotomy of internet celebrity, but it touches on the less talked about delineation between internet fame and what pre-millennial generations consider “real” fame. When hired to do a professional advertising gig, Tana quickly realizes that her followers and online clout mean very little outside of her insular fandom. It seems to be this invalidation of her perceived importance that leads to her fan Ari’s rebellion against her in the end. LDLO
TSUMA MUSUME HAHA
Dir. Kaori Kinoshita and Alain Della Negra. (Japan, 2019) 35:00 Short Documentary
Can a life-size doll, an avatar, and AI truly love you? This film presents stories of unreciprocated love between humans and non-humans, so many attempts at belonging to a world and of designing the future of Japan’s human population.
As a science fiction film scholar, it is a bit jarring to see science fiction become reality. Since the concept of AI has come onto the scene, speculation of human emotion that can be duplicated has been vehemently debated. Intelligence is one thing, emotion, another. But most alarmingly is how humans are becoming more robotic and AI more human. The ability to love a non human entity has been discussed in a myriad of films such as Blade Runner and HER, but now especially in a time of pandemic when loneliness is as at an all time high, is loving an AI doll the answer? Or will it merely exacerbate the already growing epidemic of isolation? Personally, I find the alternative of human to human connection even more sad as we look more and more to technology for “humanity”.AN
THE UNUSUAL BATH OF MISTER OTMAR
Dir. Niko Radas (Croatia, 2019) 14:53- Animation
Mister Otmar’s way of living is not aligned with the society he lives in. He’s been brought before court as being deemed as dangerous for the collective thinking and sentenced to a psychiatric treatment with the aim of returning him to socially acceptable frameworks. However, the prescribed therapy confronts with unexpected resistance.
With all the surreal experiences of the last few years news cycles, and the pandemic….is there a clear delineation between “normal” and insane anymore? I am either the only normal one and everyone else is out of their minds…or it must be vice versa. either way, everything seems like we are living in the Matrix. I said it before and I’ll say it again, everything got weird after David Bowie and Prince died….AN
Dir. Kosta Nikas. (Australia, 2019) 15:00
A man returns to his country only to find a society
where citizens police each other with their mobile
phones and where there is more freedom inside
prison rather than outside it. Desperate, but
unable to escape, the brave act of one woman
gives him his freedom.
Dir. Cecilia Lundqvist (Sweden, 2019) 4:00- Animation
The animation ”Virus” uses classic we and them rhetoric in a fast pace to reflect how opinions of alien contempt poisons, spreads and contaminates.
I really love this one. It has a complete narrative (although certainly not in the most traditional way) and relevance to today’s political climate with the added bonus of the “virus” metaphor taking on new meaning for these many months. A disturbing way to represent a disturbing phenomenon. Very visually striking animation as well. KF
WE CHOOSE TO GO
Dir. Marlene Emilia Rios (UK, 2019) 14:45
When Angie Miranda first awakens onboard the Horizon, she notices something seems a bit…off. After taking her first initial steps outside her cryosleep pod, she discovers her crew mates have died in their sleep, and the food onboard the ship is beyond expired. As she explores, she discovers that the ship has undergone a fatal mission error and they’ve not only overshot their mission—but they’ve endured 60 years of directionless drift. As Angie tries to overcome the fatal scenario she’s found herself in, she reflects back on the life she gave up on Earth in pursuit of this mission.
One of the many reasons you won’t catch my butt wanting to go out into space along with the myriad of other various nightmares that being in a non oxygen atmosphere would offer. AN
Dir. Lisa Mausbach (Germany, 2019) 4:00- Experimental
“Weltschmerz” is a poetic short film about the melancholy of ones own insufficiency as a consequence of human destructiveness. The film shows three individuals and how they deal with depression and the end of the world. It’s based on a poem about the feeling of hopelessness regarding the current ecological situation and the irreversible consequences for future generations.
WHERE AM I?
Dir. Cheng Qiu (UK/China, 2020) 4:16- Experimental Animation
What do you see inside the mist?
Through the abstract storytelling and scenes, also the Yin and Yang girls, the film trying to explore the boundary between dream and reality, tells the stories metaphorically which is the confusion and inner struggle for the question ‘What is the real self?’.
The title of the film is taken from a saying of Buddha. On the one hand, this title will lead the question literally which is about the confusion of self-perception. On the other hand, it is the thinkings on the question of “I” from the perspective of Buddhism, and trying to seek relief from it.
Most parts of this film were drawn on the same paper frame-by-frame, I feel the charcoal mark seemed like trace of memory.
Besides, the narration of this film comes from some scattered poems I wrote during the early processing. When the words came out, the scenes unfold naturally. After the integration and modification of these scattered little poems, the film’s muttering narration is formed. Through the abstract and metaphor words and scenes, different people will see different stories.
The animation was beautifully executed, and beyond that, the film spoke perfectly to the inner struggle of the main character. The imagery was complex and deeply metaphorical. My breath was held for me the entire time. AH
Dir. Slava Doytcheva (Bulgaria, 2018) 20:45
A wedding. A girl. A closet.
And the choice to be made once and for all – against the current or against herself.
Whole capitalizes on every explicit symbolism of a closeted lesbian’s struggle to ‘come out’ by having her literally hiding in a closet at a heterosexual’s wedding reception. For twenty minutes, nothing exists besides the excruciating internal battle between wedding her sexual identity or remaining a guest at the table of her own life. Cinematography and editing are married together to create a potent environment in which to observe the story unfold. KS
I really liked the parts where she was hearing all of the closed minded dialogue of her family and having to sit in silence because those scenes painted a picture of being the unspoken minority and it was really realistically portrayed. AH
WHY SLUGS HAVE NO LEGS
DIr. Aline Höchli (Switzerland, 2019) 10:44 Animation
Slugs have a hard time keeping up with the pace of life in the city of insects. When a financial crisis hits, the industrious bees only see one solution.
It’s like someone was tasked with turning Karl Marx’s nightmares into a segment for Sesame Street.
Fun animation style, clear story telling, and strangely, I can relate to those slugs…LDLO
Beautiful, poignant, inventive and devastating, this film tells the story of the “rat race” in a simple yet endlessly meaningful way, proving that slow and patient are often the same thing, and neither are really ever bad. A field of weeds as an alternative to breakneck capitalism is an interesting image. TC
The most original short submission I have seen. Animation is playful and childlike, but the story line couldn’t resonate more mature. The plot unfolded with a deliberate lethargy that emphasized the narrative, and the plot twist was unexpected. KS
Dir. Kévin Roualland and Maxime Dupuy (France, 2019) 4:00- Animation
WILD HORSES is at once short film and electronic music video telling a dystopian sci-fi love story through beautiful, timeless animation.
In a not too distant future, technology has enabled humans to digitalize themselves and achieve immortality as part of a database. A big metropolis readies itself for the first digitalization centre. A young couple argue bitterly – one for, one against the procedure.
On the day the centre opens, a large crowd of protestors gather outside. Some of them force entry to the digitalization room and sabotage the system, unleashing the technology at random throughout the crowd. The city descends into chaos. The two conflicted lovers flee the riots, leaving the city to start a new life together.
Dir. Petteri Saario. (Finland, 2019) 15:00
In a very anxiety ridden era full of bureaucratic quagmires and incongruency with cyberspace, not to mention the collective anxiety of the pandemic, it is this escape to a Thoreau-esque philosophy that oozes relief right through the screen. The pace of the photography, the encapsulation of nature makes one question that perhaps the Apocalypse could be auspicious? A return to basic existence and shedding the weight of late capitalistic society. A beautiful poetic essay regarding the importance of maintaining a contemplative peace of the mind in the frenetic culture we have built for ourselves. AN
Dir. Cesar Reyna (Estonia, 2018) 30:00
An overwhelmed single mother who lives with her blind son must keep her feelings for him back until a mysterious young man arrives at their home to live with them
YOUR FRIEND, RANGER DOUG
Dir. Claire Jantzen and Sara Rose Nell (USA, 2020) 16:47- Short Documentary
A 94-year-old Glacier National Park ranger confronts the decline of the park he calls home as he reflects on his life and the legacy he will leave behind.
I thought it was beautifully strung together from beginning to end. Touching on both climate change as a seriously impending threat to the fabric of our planet, and the life of ranger Doug as he spends his days loving and caring for it. He sets an example for the type of people we all should be; in love with our surroundings and dedicated to protecting them. The score was also fantastically executed and made the whole video that much more beautiful. AH