Slamdance 2014: Selected Shorts Reviews

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We had the opportunity to see a number to great shorts at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival and we wanted to make sure they get discussed as part of our coverage since shorts too often fall by the wayside at festivals.

Below the jump you’ll find capsule reviews for each of the short films we watched at this year’s fest. 

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REAL ETHEREAL dir. Evan Mann

Evan Mann’s short film opens on the shore with the waves rolling in.  Just past a few cresting waves something appears to be floating in the distance.  Soon whatever it is seems to be approaching the beach and the closer it gets the stranger it appears and the stranger this short film becomes.   This experimental piece combines live action, stop motion animation, an engaging sound design and a perplexing mystery all wrapped up in a head-scratching series of bizarre imagery.   It appears as though we are advancing deeper and deeper inside something but the imagery is too incongruous to even make any sense.   Instead of being wrapped up in the imagery you are left wondering why you are watching it in the first place. -Ernie Trinidad

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AFTER ARCADIA dir. Joe Tippett

Science fiction can be tricky even in short form.   Fortunately After Arcadia manages to not get caught up in the trappings of the genre.    When the short begins a scientist describes via film noir like voice over the dire situation and what he must do.   It’s best to not discuss anything further or otherwise risk spoiling the plot.   Directors and writers Robert Brice and Joe Tippett have made an effective tale that doesn’t complicate things too much and Adam Bacon does a good job as the scientist with the weight of the world on his shoulders.   They do just enough to keep you thinking and may even get you to check it out again to piece it all together. -Ernie Trinidad

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PINK AND BABY BLUE dir. Catrin Hedström

A comedic yet nightmarish look at the ultimate decision a transgender person must contend with- using the men’s or women’s restroom.  Although on the surface it seems like a simple decision, the bathrooms themselves represent the world in which the main character will be entering, neither of which look very appealing.  This is exactly the type of film one could want in a short.  It’s breezy, funny, and packs a punch.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that it looks great as well. -Adam Patterson

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MOVING dir. Marc Horowitz

Certainly one of the strangest shorts played at the fest, this three-minute head scratcher revolves around two monsters chipping away at a piece of rock and having a semi-pointless conversation.  I guess it was entertaining, but then again I’m not really sure what I was watching.  If you like your shorts weird and experimental, Moving is work a quick look. -Adam Patterson

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ODYSSEA dir. Morrisa Maltz

This visually striking short centers on a young woman visiting home for the first time after being away and the odd changes she encounters.  Everything is the same and yet its not and the girl must go on a journey of self-discovery that takes her to a place she remembers from her childhood.  Fans of the surreal will certainly love the slightly off, fairy tale quality of the film, with a great score complimenting it throughout. -Adam Patterson

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OVO dir. Mihai Wilson

Often, short films are looked at as something of a proof of concept for what could be extended into a feature.  Such is the case with Mihai Wilson’s beautifully rendered Ovo.  This science fiction short revolves around a group of space travelers stuck in the ruins of an unknown planet inhabited by what appear to be alien jellyfish.  With fantastic visuals and an intriguing story, this is one that I would love to see more of. -Adam Patterson

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WE KEEP ON DANCING dir. Jessica Barclay Lawton

This comedic, sad, and ultimately sweet little story explores love and loss through a broken down Volkswagen and a moment of tenderness at the auto body shop.  Shot on 35mm, this film looks great and does well balancing the humor and sadness giving it a very touching result.  This is one that will assuredly cause many to say “Awww,” and rightfully so. -Adam Patterson