This afternoon, at the Flyover Film Festival, they featured the final cluster of shorts. Programmer Zachary Treitz introduced them modestly, with a measured admittance that he dislikes most short films that he sees. Confidently though, he said there would be something for everyone to enjoy, and he did not exaggerate there. I only fear that everyone mainly just enjoyed the same short.
Dear, patient reader, here are some brief thoughts on the four that they were able to screen:
Into the Middle of Nowhere
This. I believe that everyone who saw this short had a smile on his or her face throughout it all. It shows nothing more than small Scottish children, maybe 4-7 years old, playing in a forest. That’s plenty.
No adults intrude on their well mannered, imaginative play as one darling girl struggles to get on a swing, or one small boy claims that lady bugs have poisonous wee. The most time is spent on a young lad who pushes logs together into what he says is an airplane. He invites other children to join him and asks where they wish to go. Then, he graciously flies them there, capturing the routine malaise of a taxi driver. One small girl wants to go to America. One small girl wants to go to Fire Land. One small boy wants to go to Smoke Bloke Island. Just imagine hearing a tiny Scottish boy say that and you imagine happiness.
I want to watch this film everyday. Always.
In this ten minute short, filmmaker Dustin Guy Defa appears to take old family video tapes, and redubs them with vocal effects and ominous sounds. Though he credits his family at the end, I still cannot help but think of this as a sensationalist, creepified view of a blue-collar family. I suppose it is because I am a part of a large working class family myself, and I’m sure they would be horrifying as well if I added droning environmental envelopes and distorted voice over. Pretty much everything would. I’ll grant that there is a very depressing filter you can project onto families like these, I just try to think positive thoughts.
Although I did find it disturbing that all the grown men were in a room on Christmas watching dirty movies.
The Black Balloon
If you are familiar with the old French short The Red Balloon, this time, the balloon is black and it appears to want to help down on their luck people like a scandalizing performer named Ratso, a girl who’s tired of watching her mom kiss a man, and a homeless guy who bothers his working son for food. Ultimately, the balloon is unsuccessful at changing anyone’s life, though it does block a security camera while Ratso steals a dress. And in the end, the balloon must find its own happiness.
This effort did have a touch of whimsy. It wasn’t terribly deep and the characterizations were overly sketchy, but it certainly had an interesting counterpoint to a sixty-year-old children’s film.
Another Bullet Dodged
This final short wins the prize for showing the most disreputable man I’ve seen in a while. And I watch Mad Men. Callous and thoughtless, this small tale follows him showing up late to take his ex girlfriend to her abortion and the scenes that follow. While it left you feeling stick and gross at the realistic exhibition of insensitive manliness, I want to truly credit this film for displaying an honest, layered, and real portrait of feminine reaction to this insensitivity. The level of comprehension this 13-minute film seemed to covey was startlingly high. Filmmaker Landon Zakheim really gives a powerfully stark short.