The Columbia Gorge International Film Festival is going on right now, and I happened to make my way to a little diner called Pop Culture in Vancouver, WA for the first full day of the festival. There were five venues in total showing different films and hosting different activities, and I chose Pop Culture because one of the flicks it was screening is Beneath the Veneer of a Murder, a neat little short which I reviewed favorably a while ago. In all, 21 other shorts played, with one 2 hour “movie” to end the day.
This is the first time I’ve sat through a marathon of short films, and it made me really appreciate the good ones. A problem which I noticed at the festival is that a lot of these short films aren’t very good. The most notable problem is that some of the films don’t tell an entire story; The ones which appear as if they’re scenes hand-picked from whole, full length films. Telling an entire story in 10 minutes is hard.
Look to Beneath the Veneer of a Murder for an example of a short film done right. It indeed is a single scene sandwiched between two voiceovers over a blank screen with text. But Angel Connell, the filmmaker behind the flick, worked within the confines of 8 minutes to tell the story all the while secretly testing the viewers’ perceptive abilities. It’s a neat idea, which is that when text to read and audio to hear are displayed at the same time, is your attention directed to the text or the audio? Depending on your answer, you’ll either understand the murder or you’ll wonder what the point is.
Compare that to another short that screened at the festival, The Vibe. It’s hard to talk about for a full paragraph because it’s simply a conversation between two friends sitting at a table in a restaurant. The conversation is vaguely entertaining, sure, but it seems like a character-development scene cut from a full length film. I noticed that sort of laziness more than I should have; Not all of the “poor” short films shown are like that, but there’s enough to guess that it’s a problem in the industry.
Below is a list of the 22 short films and the full length one, in the order I saw them, with a brief description and whether or not they deserve your attention.
- My Apologies: How to apologize for making a film. Not worth your minute.
- Speed Dating: Sleeping around might not be the best idea. See.
- The Tar Pit: Crazy girls are crazy and killing dogs is evil. See.
- The Vibe: Good times at a restaurant. Not worth your time.
- Omega Squad: Resolute: Indescribable action, an evil Asian supervillain, and three sexy heroines. Not worth your time.
- It’s as Easy as Riding a Bike: Mind reading is cool until you realize that it’s not. See.
- Bella Nubela: A salon that deserves no business. Not worth your time.
- Hide and Seek: The end of the dinosaurs, evolution and Nessie’s life story. Must see.
- Beneath the Veneer of a Murder: Murder pays in paper money. Must see.
- The Blue Bike: The DVD had technical issues, so I don’t know exactly what it’s about and can’t recommend or not recommend it.
- Cancel My Two O’Clock: Burglary can save your life. See.
- Between Two Points: This is what the world looks like on acid. See.
- Happy Birthday: Not all birthdays are exciting. Not worth your time.
- Au Fil Du Temps: Snowy mountains and more snowy mountains. Not worth your time.
- Date With Fate: 49 years is too long to be married. Not worth your time.
- Stairway to Heaven: When encountering writer’s block, wander the world aimlessly. Must see.
- The Reading: Living finger puppets fit best on clay fingers. See.
- Hyperlightness ad Absurdum: A means of inducing seizures. Not worth your time.
- Busted Walk: Smoking pot is justifiable when you’re a kid who walks like a 94 year old. See.
- La Reverberación: Screening phone calls of one lover to see another isn’t cool. Not worth your time.
- Surveillant: Kids can be really mean. Must see.
- Vorgarten: The juxtaposition of a man on a platform and woman in a garden. See.
- Walther: 2 hours of the most boring film in the history of the world. Avoid like the plague. Edit: My review was uploaded shortly after this post.
Not gonna lie, even though this is rough around the edges, it feels really good to get a film-related post out. Proof that this blog is still a combination tech AND film blog!
Thanks for reading!