The last day of the film festival was spent watching a sample of films that received awards from the 3 member Jury. Each film received a $1000 prize, and two films, Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short, are automatically submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences for consideration for an Oscar nomination. It’s apparently a big honor, because when one of the directors heard he’d won Best Live Action Short, he almost jumped out of his seat!
We did not get to watch all of the films, because there were about 10 or 11 prizes awarded. However, one of my favorite short films, Sun City Picture House, won Best Short Documentary! I was so happy when I heard that, it was such a wonderful film.
Needless to say, here are the films that we saw at the Jury Awards. I will also include the prizes that they won. Even though I could not vote for these films, I will also give my rating for them, from a score of 1 to 5.
1 The 54: Best International Short
A woman sitting behind me told me she heard an interview with the director. The director heard an interview with a girl who had been kidnapped years before. In her interview, she talked about how she used to ride the subway, and stare at people in the subway, trying to get their attention.
The 54 tells the story of a woman riding a subway, who sees a girl staring at her. The girl stares intently, with a scared, desperate, but determined expression. The woman begins to suspect that something is wrong, but cannot decide if, or how, to take action. This film was sublte and disturbing, and told largely without dialogue. The girl and the woman both have incredibly expressive faces (Norma Desmond would have approved!) and the directing and editing tell the story very well.
Dripped :Best Animated Short Film
Will be submitted to the Academy for Oscar Consideration
Dripped is an animated film, told entirely without words, about a man who steals artwork, and eats it. Each time he takes a bite out of a painting, he is transformed into an image from the painting. The story was very original, and the animation was top notch. Plus, as my mom said, when he took a bite out of a bad painting, he got sick. Always funny. I really appreciated the visual artistry of this film, which also honored the work of Jackson Pollack.
Motherland: Best Ohio Short Film
This is a comical film about a young man with a mother who is a strict Muslim (presumably Pakistani? Or at least simply Indian) who strongly approves of her son’s beard and sexual relationship with a young woman named Anjuli, to the point where she ties him up. This film plays with the stereotype of an overprotective mother, and injects it with a creepy kind of comedy.
I think this film actually makes a fitting companion piece to Shirin, the short film about honor killing. The mother’s attempt to control her son is comical, and leads to understanding and compassion. The father’s attempt to control his daughter is horrific, and ends in murder.
Curfew: Best Live Action Short Film
Curfew begins with one of the most disturbing images I’ve seen in a long time. The film begins with a phone ringing next to a bathtub, and a bloody hand reaches down and answers the phone. The next image is a razor covered in blood, and a man listening to the phone in the bathtub, tinged with blood. It’s a cringe-inducing way to open a movie. But amazingly, comically, the man interrupts his suicide attempt to help out his estranged sister by babysitting her daughter, his neice.
The motif of the child’s innocence saving a corrupt, embittered soul and bringing reconciliation is a common one, but the director has a good touch. He understands that film is primarilly a visual medium, and the images in the film are striking, and convey a tremendous amount of information. We discover that the sister is escaping an abusive relationship, not because the director tells us, but because we see the bruises on her face, and a restraining order on the table.
This film was incredibly well constructed, and the story was very powerful, albeit cringe inducing at times.
Tsuyako: Best LGTB Short Film
This is one of the films that I saw in my original blocks of films, and rated it there. Interestingly enough, I found out this film was based on the director’s grandmother. In a way, I am both surprised and unsurprised by this fact. I am surprised because parts of the story (still) seem unbelievable, but unsurprised because this film is clearly a labor of love.
I am curious to know how much of the story is true, and how much of this is conjecture. I find the idea that Tsuyako would seriously think that she and Yoshie could run off together to Tokyo and raise her children there unbelievable. However, I understand why this takes place. A good protagonist is an active protagonist, and in Tsuyako, the title character gets to choose. She chooses to join Yoshie at the train station, but on the train, she sees a child playing with a toy that reminds her of her daughter. She realizes that she cannot abandon her children, and chooses to leave Yoshie, and stay with her family. Tsuyako does not return to her family because she misses the train, she returns to her family because she made a choice. That’s good storytelling.
Am I unhappy that this film won the LGTB award? Not at all! It is a fine film, and as I said, the director’s cinematic eye is almost flawless. The film gorgeously shot, and even with the flaws in the story, the story is incredibly well told.
It is Miracu’ House: The Spalding and Jackson Award in Celebration of Joy
The last film of the short film block was the ideal way to end the collection, and the festival. In this French film, a man’s mother is ill and she is adament that only Dr. House can cure her. Yes, Dr. House from American TV. The man, realizing that this is impossible, but wanting to help his mother, recruits an actor who resembles Hugh Laurie, and a radio personality to mimic the voice.
This film is simply hilarious, and cetainly celebrates joy. The man’s attempt to get these men to portray Dr. House was fantastic, and full of suitable craziness. At the end, the mother is not fooled at all by her son’s scheme, but finds it so hilarious that she jumps out of her bed and walks through the streets laughing hysterically.