DC Shorts Redux

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Hey Look! We won! (Goofy beard courtesy of Burning Man)

Phew. Three weeks since my last post, but definitely three busy, busy weeks. Most of that time was spent in the high desert of Nevada being deeply involved with the Burning Man arts festival. It was equal parts exhausting and exhilarating, as always, and the full details of what transpired out there is largely outside of the scope of this blog (although I am planting a nugget of an idea for a future large scale Burning Man project with a certain high profile new music ensemble).

Last weekend was spent at the DC Shorts Film Festival, and thanks to all of you who went and voted for I Got Mail as the best original song, we won! I can now be called an “award winning composer” (since I Got Mail’s previous mention as “runner up for a cappella comedy song of the year” doesn’t quite count).

The DC Shorts festival is a wonderful festival. Unlike many other festivals (where they give you a free ticket to your screening and then charge you for little things like the opening night party and the closing awards ceremony), it’s truly designed with the filmmakers in mind. Founder Jon Gann is a filmmaker himself and set out to create a festival that filmmakers would want to attend, and by all accounts he has succeeded. Little things, like making sure that the credentials indicate clearly who the filmmakers are so you know who you’re talking to when you meet them in line at the many parties, makes networking and socializing easy.

The films themselves are also very strong, and that’s not something to take for granted. I saw three of the nine possible screenings and while not every film was precisely to my taste (Tarantino knock-offs in particular turn me off pretty quickly, and for some reason every time a poverty stricken minority youth has a beloved dog, you just know the dog’s going to bite it before the end credits) I had a hard time choosing just three for the audience choice award.

So, in no particular order, here are films that stuck with me:

Delmer Builds A Machine
Very short and very awesome. May be my favorite film of the festival.

The Moon Bird
Gorgeously surreal animation. Story gets a bit drawn out (creepy thing makes little girl scream and run away, repeat until finished) but the look makes up for it. One part Brothers Quay, one part Studio AKA.

A triumph of casting. Real actors make a difference and this short demonstrates why.

The Incident at Tower 37
I saw this at the Sonoma Film Festival as well, and was impressed even before I realized who the director was (Chris Perry is an old friend of mine from the computer graphics industry). It’s thoughtful and lovely and stops just shy of being heavy handed. Quite an achievement for a film made primarily by students.

Manual Practico del Amigo Imaginario (The Imaginary Friend Practical Manual)
Laugh out loud funny mockumentary from Spain about an imaginary friend sharing tips on how to avoid obsolescence as their humans get older. Features a convention hall filled with a bizarre conglomeration of friends, including a giant Burt head, flower costumes, and… Alf? Why is there a full sized Alf costume in Spain?

Very funny (and again, very short) short that got unfairly overlooked for the awards. It’s very well conceived and executed.

Haunting and beautiful. About three quarters through I decided I hated it, only to decide I loved it in the last few minutes. Now I want to see it again.

Marius Borodine
Another very funny mockumentary. For a brief moment, it seemed like there was a French film maker with a sense of humor, but then we realized that it was a French-Canadian film, and all was right with the world again.

Enter the Beard
Audience and filmmaker favorite, this is all flavors of charming. You just can’t go wrong with a bunch of goofy costumes and beards in Alaska. What’s not to like?

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