Several short films that show a lot of promise

by Martin Hafer

During the last film festival I attended, I must have seen close to a hundred shorts.  Some of them were easy to review, as they were relatively long for a short film and told relatively complicated stories.  However, a few made me laugh and I enjoyed them, but they were so short that it’s really difficult to give them a numerical score…but I don’t want them to be forgotten or ignored.  Instead, I see them as very good and enjoyable shorts by young filmmakers which show a lot of promise and deserve to be seen.

Chomp

(written and directed by Lynne Hansen)

The film begins with Dr. Joncroft on his television show “The Pitbulls and Zombies Hour” and then cuts to a garage where a young man has just awakened.  He has no idea how he got there and an elderly woman, Millie, is thrilled that her ‘zombie’ has just awoken!  She can’t wait to go on Dr. Joncroft’s show!  Unfortunately, the guy is not a zombie–just a guy on his way to a Halloween party!  And, no matter how hard he tries to convince her otherwise, she insists that he must be a zombie because her pitbull can sniff out zombies–and he’s definitely one of them!  Can the guy possibly escape from this demented woman?  And, will Millie ever get her wish that she’ll appear on the great Dr. Joncroft’s show?!

The King of Trickery

(written by Gloria Suarez and directed by Thea Tomine Larsen Naerdal)  Watch a clip here

When the film begins, a master magician is performing a trick in front of his audience.  However, while locked in a trunk attempting to escape, he suffers a heart attack and dies.  The next scene, the family learns that the magician saved very little money and they are advised to sell his magical collection and so they have a sale.  Late in the day, a man arrives and seems to think that magic is all a lot of hooey–and the magician’s son manages to impress the man with a few tricks of his own.

This film was perhaps one of the best looking shorts I saw at the film festival.  The sets and costumes were amazingly good and the film had a lovely cinematic quality to it.  The acting was also very nice.  But, like the other films, it was just so very short and it left me wanting more–which I hope we soon see from these filmmakers.

Detectives of Noir Town

(written and directed by Andrew Chambers)  Watch the trailer below

This was the only puppet movie at the festival and Andrew Chambers brought one along to entertain his friends and admirers.  And, there’s a lot to admire in this short comedy.  It’s the story of an incredibly stupid puppet detective…one that’s been sent to Puppet Town to investigate a murder.  The only trouble is that the victim isn’t yet dead…but the detective soon takes care of that in this funny film noir style film.  The dialog is appropriately cheesy and in the end, the dog did it….

When Detectives of Noir Town aired, the one thing I noticed about it weren’t the puppets but how loudly the audience laughed as they watched.  In fact, I am sure all of us would love to see more puppet movies from Chambers.  Oddly, however, when he talked about the film he admitted that he wasn’t a puppeteer and knew little about them before making this cute film!  Amazing.

February

(written, directed and starring Jessi Shuttleworth)

When the film begins, a maniac teenager has run amok in a school–shooting several kids to death.  This includes Samantha’s brother.  Years pass and the killer has now been in prison 18 years for this crime and is due to be released.  Not surprisingly, the public is furious and is looking for blood.  As for Samantha, although she is now a cop, she’s torn as she appears as if she’d like a piece of this guy, too.

Like The King of Trickery, this film has a ton of polish and a real cinematic quality about it.  I thought the direction was absolutely amazing for such a young and relatively inexperienced filmmaker.  I would be really excited if she used this as a basis for a full-length picture, as there’s a lot to this timely story.

21 Ft South (directed by Luca Brinciotti)  webpage:  http://www.luca-brinciotti.com/

This film is set in the Los Angeles area and is very simple.  A young man has a friend who is trying to join a gang and this ‘friend’ will do anything to get into the gang…even kill.

While this film was incredibly simple as far as the story goes, it was handled exceptionally well.  The story is taut, exciting and extremely sad.  What makes it worse is that it’s based on a true story!  Luca Brinciotti really impresses in this film about senseless gang violence.

Career Girl

(written, starring and co-directed by Johanna Watts and co-directed by Fortunata Procopio)

Visit the website here

This movie starts off with a bang…and the audience was in stitches!  Monica is a hard-driven career woman who goes to bed just fine and wakes up 9 months pregnant!!  I don’t know how they made her look so realistically un-pregnant one minute and bursting at the seams the next!  It’s hilarious watching her rushing about and trying to figure out how to hide the fact that she’s so pregnant and still make it to her big presentation!  When her water breaks, it’s pretty much a given that the meeting won’t go as planned…or will it?

While this is a very funny short, it also has a real wistful and sad ending.  This is not a complaint–in fact it provides depth and meaning to a film that turns out to be more than just a comedy.

So there you have it–several films that I thoroughly enjoyed but which cannot receive an exhaustive review simply because they are so short.  In each, young filmmakers acquit themselves very well and I can’t wait to see what sort of work they’ll be up to next!