Tonight was Shorts set #1, last night was #2. Unfortunately I'm booked for the rest of the times they are doing 3 & 4.
This was not as good a set as #2, but it had its moments.
The Barefoot Humanity (L’umanità Scalza) - dir. Americo Melchionda - Italy
Disjointed script which tried to do too much in too little time. Worst writing and least imaginative of all the shorts. Every scene was a WTFBBQ. Subtitles were too small and not on the screen long enough. Completely throw-away ending. FAIL.
Ethan - dir. Tamir Moscovici - Canada
Just when I thought things could not get worse, they did. The movie was artificially altered to look like it was shot using the exposed ends of 8mm film. I had to close my eyes after a couple of minutes, the searing flashes of red-orange which us old farts recognize as the last frames of a reel were inserted every 10 seconds, or more. Total nonsense, and made the movie un-watchable. There was a very good concept behind the movie, it was trying to be a documentary about a young sk8er boy (who also plays rugby) who thinks he has Tourette's, his mother likes that idea better than autism, but from the interviews they did with the kid, he sounds normal. They only had audio from him and his mother. How this atrocity got into the festival, I don't even want to know.
God and Vodka - dir. Daniel Stine - United States
Finally an excellent picture. Best dialog of the two nights, a charming story about a pair of friends, a man about to be shipped overseas by the army and his long-time best female friend. It is told from the angle that she is writing a story about him and their friendship, and doesn't know where to start or what order to put things in. So we see their life together out of chronological order, but it all makes sense and is very charming. Well acted, good-to-great videography, nice score.
Hatch - dir. Christoph Kuschnig - Austria
Apparently in Austria, hospitals have an open door leading to a hatch with an infant bed behind it, a humane alternative to leaving a baby on a doorstep. A pair of immigrants make the tough decision that they can survive in Austria, but not with a baby. As they are waiting for the bus back home, a man walks into the place and snatches their baby, drives away. He brings it home to his boyfriend, and it becomes clear this was totally on impulse. The ending is heart-rending and sweet. The lighting could have been better, but all in all a worthy flick.
Rhonda’s Party - dir. Ashley McKenzie - Canada
What do you do when a woman passes away the night before her 100th birthday party at the nursing home? The cake is there, the band is on its way, balloons have been filled with helium, party hats are on the table, the residents are gathered. Some of the best acting of the night, it is all supporting roles, no real leading characters. I would have tweaked the final shot a little, a minor nit pick.
Henry - dir. Yan England - Canada
Tour de force showing an old man who had a full and happy life as a concert pianist with his violinist wife, as his mind drifts in and out of the present. Genius editing and writing, in French but you stop noticing. Gérard Poirier plays the old man, he was 81 when they shot it last year, and he is amazing. I cried a couple of times, once at the end when he recognizes his daughter for a moment, then asks if they have ever met, and it is clear he realizes he has lost his memory. He asks her a simple question which sums it all up. I gave this a 10 out of 5 on my scorecard.