28 January 2007
Right in the shorts
Karl Mechem's The Journal of Short Film is a quarterly DVD (ten bucks, $36 a year) that features worthy short films you probably won't see otherwise. This year there's a roadshow of sorts, and Mechem himself was on hand at OKCMOA's Noble Theater to introduce two collections of shorts featured in the Journal; I caught the second one today.
Steven Bognar's Gravel is a stunningly beautiful, if rambling, tale of a social worker who's fallen for an ex-con who used to be one of her clients, and her better-grounded teenaged daughter. It goes nowhere in particular but is seriously involving just the same.
Brian Liloia's ¡Sí, Se Puede! looks at two Mexican brothers who have left their homeland and their families behind to seek work in the States, and argues, with varying degrees of subtlety, the case for open borders: certainly you wouldn't want to see these two fellows, who want only to work and help their familes, sent home.
Chel White's Dirt is a fast and funny tale, part Jean Cocteau, part Joe Frank, about a man who grew up eating the very substance of the earth and now is become his own self-contained biosystem. (The Joe Frank-like voiceover is supplied by, yes, Joe Frank.)
Peter Sillen's Grand Luncheonette deplores the Disneyfication of Times Square and, by extension, the world by looking at a decidedly non-chain hot-dog stand which had survived for nearly six decades but which was finally put to death by the ostensible "upgrade" of the neighborhood.
Deron Albright's The Legend of Black Tom is the only-slightly-fictionalized story of Tom Molineaux, a slave in early-19th-century America who wins his freedom as a bare-knuckle boxer and who is brought to England to take on the champ. Said champ successfully defends his title, but apparently the fix was in from the very first round. Albright shot this one in live-action and then composited it into what he calls "a woodcut with a watercolor wash," giving it the look of charcoal animation. The voiceover, in verse, is every bit as compelling as the visuals.
Josh Hyde's Chiclé is a tale of two Peruvian brothers, the younger struggling to stay on the path of righteousness, the older seemingly already lost. Pablo, who earns a few soles for the family by selling chewing gum (hence the title) on the streets, gives up his stake for the next day to help a lost American girl, language differences notwithstanding; he does not know that his brother has already complicated matters.
Finally, Borja Cobeaga's Éramos Pocos, which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film-Live Action, posits a quandary for a man and his son: what will they do, now that the woman of the house has gone? The answer: retrieve her mother from the retirement home. Easy enough maybe. A splendid example of comic timing.
The folks behind the deadCENTER Film Festival helped bring this series to town, perhaps reasoning that getting more people interested in short films will bring more people to their June event. Good call, say I.