The 2016 Phoenix Film Festival is shaping up to be a very memorable experience with an interesting assortment of AZ made indies. This year offers up an impressive batch of films that explore a new direction in local indie; steering clear of long, oversaturated stories jammed with excessive character development and banausic scripting. This year’s short film selections present a promising grasp of the visual direction indie is going; keeping the dialog to a minimum and exploring the medium of film with an assortment of camera techniques and a bold foray into dramatic lighting that is designed not just for effect, but as a distinct component of the story being told. Here are 5 Arizona made short films screening during the 2016 Phoenix Film Festival that you do not want to miss.

Reverie – Dana Bruhn and Kayla Windsor
After meeting a young man (Shane Banx) at a party, a young woman (Vanessa Benjamin) matter-of-factly narrates the moment she gave completely of herself with him; body and soul in “the heat of passion,” only to get screwed over in the long run. Directors Bruhn and Windsor employ an arsenal of film techniques to tell their story, allowing the images to be the driving force of the film while the narration weaves the scenes together with silky smooth subtlety. Exquisite photography and editing masterfully captures the aurorean magic of finding love, and the dark, inimical wasteland of love lost. When it comes to breakup movies, the ladies really know their stuff. The guys… mmmm not so much. ‘Reverie’ won Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Picture at the 2015 IFP Breakout Challenge.

Malparido – Willam Edgmon
A black man draped in red (Arico Shango) leads a white man that is shackled in chains (Chase Reynolds) through the desert. They encounter a goddess in white (Windy West) who, with outstretched arm, submissively and defeatedly accepts an intravenous injection from the man in red. He then departs alone, leaving the goddess to now carry the burden of addiction. With a mix of Spanish and English, words are spoken cryptically in reserved reticence, depicting suffering, addiction, withdrawal and fear. Superb short film commanding color and sound into a stunning visual poem composed of stark symbolism and rich metaphors. Winner of Best Picture, Best Music, Best Sound Design and Best Director (Wm.

Fathers – Jamie Rivera
A man visits a shrink and describes the nightmares that have haunted him his entire life: A homicidal child who is constantly trying to kill him. The man goes on to describe his own son; the crazed and dangerous manifestation of all of his fears and terror who is now his own offspring. Deeply psychological short film that relies heavily on subtleties for the plot, but makes up for it with exquisitely spine tingling, classic horror cinematography.

Reality – Chris Wilembrecht
Director Chris Wilembrecht takes another stab at sexy suspense, this time trying out some high-tech FX with a little videodrome-ish paranoia tossed in the mix. Suspicious wife Victoria (Taylor Ryan) has every reason to believe her successful yupster hubby Christian (Andy Cahoon) is packing light for a quick trip to Cheaterville, as she intercepts cryptically telling emails, gets her credit card mysteriously cancelled and gets the brush off every time her hubby’s sexy secretary (Tarah Mcdaniel) answers the phone. Lots of groovy editing and video techniques that could easily make this film mildly experimental but instead, sticks to the ‘program’ for maximum results at the final showdown. Weird and wiry indie with some nifty shots of downtown Phoenix.

The Simplicity of Chaos – Miguel Gonzalez
Oh sure, four filmmakers have no problem coming up with a single word title that succinctly encapsulates the entire scope of their film and Mr. Gonzalez has to get fancy. So long perfect columnular formatting. An omniscient, godlike guy named Rick (MacGyver Mann) hangs out at the library and contemplates life. Possessing every superpower there is has left him unfulfilled, until he meets the adorably spunky Lucy (Corrine Mann) who teaches him to appreciate the simpler things mortal existence has to offer. There are plenty of film techniques to enjoy in this funny short, along with lots of creative lighting and the playful use of an array of specialty lenses.