Friday, April 18, 2014

Joy to the World!

It's not always easy to find a quick pick-me-up at the movies. The standard multiplex now features a pre-show featuring 15-20 minutes of loud (and frequently overproduced) promotional pieces. What if you want something more substantial than a glorified commercial to tickle your fancy? What if you're craving something more satisfying than a severely overpriced bucket of popcorn?

The answer can usually be found at a film festival where, depending on the size and scope of the festival (and the taste of its programmers), there may be several offerings that feature short films made by budding filmmakers. The 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival features seven programs (average length 80 minutes) offering 65 short films grouped in clusters ranging from animated films to "fun for the family" attractions; from experimental shorts to shorts created by young filmmakers.

These shorts range from fanciful to educational; from mini-documentaries to impressive displays of imagination. As a writer who is often frustrated by encountering the improper use of homophones (as well as the bigoted opinions of homophobes) in published articles, I got a genuine kick out of Cameron Haffner's two-minute short entitled Affect vs. Effect.

With the San Francisco Silent Film Festival now scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend instead of mid-July, Silent, A Short Film (by Brandon Oldenbrurg and Limbert Fabian) has an inescapable charm.

For an added treat, click here and scroll down the page to watch a short film in which the creative team at Moonbot Studios discusses how Dolby technology allows artists and animators to be even more creative with their use of sound.

Anyone who has been confronted by a horde of eager Girl Scouts and their mothers during cookie season will take cynical delight in Natasha Lasky's delightful Cookie Wars which, in barely six minutes, does a splendid job of redefining capitalism.

While more and more OF the shorts shown at festivals can be found on YouTube and Vimeo, sometimes only a brief trailer or teaser is available online. Two of my favorite shorts from the 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival were not only impressive for their writing and animation work, but for their musical scores as well. In Yulia Aronova's deliciously sweet My Mom Is An Airplane, a little boy basks in his mother's ability to do anything and everything with a grand sense of style.

Finally, the Oscar-winning directors (Brandon Oldenburg and William Joyce) who created The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore have come out with a new 12-minute gem from Moonbot Studios that explains how a group of oppressed factory workers stuck in a drab, monochromatic world ruled by numbers use their imaginations to create the alphabet, color, and jellybeans! An obvious homage to Fritz Lang's spectacular 1927 silent film, Metropolis, you won't want to miss The Numberlys!

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