Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy murders girl. Welcome to the Sundance Short Film Tour. This past weekend, the Bill Cosford Cinema showed a variety of live action short films from the Sundance Film Festival, ranging from five-minute snapshots to nearly 20-minute miniature sagas.
The Sundance Festival is renowned worldwide as the launch point for actors, directors and writers, all stemming from the famed short film presentation.
Short films are incredible: there’s an entire world of a story encased within a few minutes. It cuts out the verbosity and strikes the heart of story, leaving a more powerful impact on viewers.
The live-action screening showcased eight pieces. The movies were extremely diverse, from straightforward storytelling to ironic pieces perfect for filling that hipster-sized hole in your heart.
“Afronauts” follows a group of Zambian exiles as they race to send a young girl to the moon. The would-be astronaut undergoes crude training to be sent into space, and is discouraged from the dangerous endeavor. The film seeks to discover which is better: to be an outsider within society or a complete outsider to the world.
Cue the cuteness with “Love. Love. Love.,” which juxtaposes scenes of rural Russian life with voice-overs of people describing love and relationships at its different stages, from first love to maturing emotions and old age. It was absolutely adorable.
Some films are too ambitious, like “Dawn,” which follows a young teen in the 1950s. Dawn is looking for some excitement in her mundane life and finds it in the form of an exciting boy who turns out to be much more than she’s able to handle. It’s a terrifying reveal of human nature, thinly veiled by the composure of 1950s society. But “Dawn” attempts too much for its time slot; it leaves too many questions and not enough subtleties to understand.
Then there’s “Metube: August Sings Carmen ‘Habanera’” which was a humorous homage to YouTubers and music videos gone wild, with the titular character, an unassuming old man, singing along to the iconic song from the opera Carmen. The classic tune turned hip-hop and electronic within seconds, with crazy dance scenes and dancing girls. It made no sense, but was humorous and fun.
“Verbatim” was hysterical for its real-life basis: the entire dialogue comes from a deposition filed with the Supreme Court of Ohio, where an exasperated lawyer tries to determine if an office worker has ever used a photocopier. With the text as the only constraint, the acting was hugely exaggerated and comical. As the employee looked more and more confused, the lawyer’s face grew redder and redder and the audience doubled over in laughter.
“The Cut” won the Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction and rightly so: it is an emotionally heartwarming tale that expresses so much in merely 15 minutes. In the midst of a father-daughter bonding haircut, a young girl receives a phone call to attend a party. The awkwardness between her father and herself after that moment captures his fear of losing his close connection with her and her guilt for not spending enough time with him. It was poignant and relatable, and pretty near perfection.
“I Think This Is The Closest To How The Footage Looked” was easily the most heart-wrenching film I have ever seen. The entire piece was shot with household objects representing the protagonist’s family members: he is played by a door handle, his father a pencil sharpener, his sister a statue of a fairy. He recreates the scene of his mother’s death, telling the viewers that his father was filming this exact scene in real life. Though low-budget and incredibly simple, this true story is so powerful and important.
“I’m a Mitzvah” stars Ben Schwartz, known for playing the obnoxiously hilarious Jean-Ralphio Saperstein in “Parks and Recreation.” Schwartz reigns as the unfortunate friend tasked with delivering a dead friend’s body from Mexico back to his hysterical mother. The grief of adjusting to his friend’s death coupled with his exhausting journey back home lends for an odd, comically tragic adventure. Schwartz is dynamic and on point with his humor. This film is the ideal blend of comedy and tragedy. It was a perfect way to end the festival.
The Sundance Film Tour was a fantastic addition to Cosford’s movie lineup. It’s such a hipster sensation to watch short films, but it’s so satisfying when they actually give you that warm feeling of a quality movie.
The Cosford Cinema will be screening “Jurassic Park” at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. “The Two Faces of January” and “Love is Strange” will screen Friday through Sunday. Visit cosfordcinema.com for showtimes.