Melodi – Michael Kam (Singapore)
In a tiny downtown apartment, a young man listens intently to his old, wheelchair-bound neighbor angrily berate the young servant girl that sadly cares for him. He peeks inside her apartment before being chased away by the old man and follows her to the bird store after she accidently releases her owners pet bird. At night, as the boy lies in bed, he listens to a soothing, haunting lullaby being sung and dreams of encountering the servant girl in the lush jungle as she floats above the trees as a goddess. A very well shot short that spends just the right amount of time on atmosphere in each shot; neither bleak nor hopeless, yet still confined and dismal. Color and sound exploit the grey spaces as vibrant caged birds sing, yet when they are released, they choose to return to captivity.
Final Take – The color of freedom.
Generations – Sune Sorensen (Denmark)
A classic VW Bug has been handed down through the generations. But with the transportation comes (often) painful memories. A son comes to terms with the value his father placed on his favorite machine, giving it all of his attention while forgoing time spent with his son. Curmudgeonly dad and unforgiving son embark on an uncomfortable road trip to abandoned locations dilapidated and faded in an effort to finally connect the past to the present. Well photographed and Interesting Dutch film that puts in a strong offering, yet can’t help but sum itself up as just another Cats in the Cradle presentation of father and son realization and regret.
Final Take – For the ages.
Love Pool – Asim Chaudhry (UK)
A young painter named Mark passionately toils away in his studio, creating his paintings in vibrant colors and the pastels of his emotions, hopes and dreams. His group of friends invite him out for the evening and when he arrives, proceed to berate, ridicule and humiliate the artist for being single. Escaping the abuse, he goes outside and smokes a joint with his closest (female) friend who continues the attack, admonishing him that he needs to ‘settle down’ and that his life, creativity and ambition are all basically worthless unless he has a girlfriend; a significant other to share his experiences with and spend the rest of his life with. Having had enough, Mark hires a Taxipool to take him home. The words of his friends (and society) continue to weigh heavy on the talented artist and he broods in the cab, believing that everything that makes him feel alive, creative and connected is all pointless since he doesn’t have an actual living, breathing ‘love’ in his life. Rude and cynical Taxipool driver Ali (played by director Chaudry) informs Mark that they are picking up another passenger. Mark protests until a lovely, mysterious woman in red hops in wearing a Mardi Gras mask. After some terse small talk, the woman warms up to Mark and the two embark on their journey of discovery and fulfillment in the backseat of the cab; sharing their taste in bad music, drinking heavily and being quick on the draw with the witty rejoinders. Before their star-crossed encounter is over they exchange numbers and yup, Mark loses her number. Sullen and empty, he scours the streets night after night in search of his lost soulmate. In his studio he stares at an empty canvas, convinced that without this woman in his life, he can no longer express himself or feel any value in living. This superbly shot and very well acted short film would like to have offered up a glossy, goofy tale of loneliness and unrequited love, but the smooth storytelling and exquisite photography (whether intentionally or unintentionally) reveal a very accurate and cautionary tale exposing the fallacy of the ‘soulmate’ and the destructive societal stigma of being single.
Final Take – Drowning in love.
The Loss – Machu Latorre (Spain)
An old widower goes about his daily routine as he adjusts to the death of his wife. The people around him are supportive yet concerned as mundane tasks befuddle him. He learns to use the washing machine and is intrigued by the fact that one sock always goes missing. He builds up the courage to ask the local baker if she can solve this enigma. With sympathy, the baker explains the mystery of the missing sock. An intriguing film that takes a topic that has already been punishingly overplayed, especially in short film, yet still presents a mildly melancholy and tender take on life, loss and loneliness.
Final Take – The fabric of our lives.
Over the Wall – Roy Zafrani (Isreal)
An Israeli schoolboy finds a soccer ball at the base of the wall bordering Palestine. On the other side is a Palestinian the same age and they commence a soccer game sight unseen. They discover a hole in the wall through which they can pass notes and play cards. They keep their forbidden friendship a secret, focing the Isreali child to choose between betraying his family or his new found friend. Simple, mildly minimalist film that does a lot with very little, portraying a compelling and relevant topic with a strong humane awareness.
Final Take – Divided we are united.
A Wreck in Paradise – Francois Zaidi (France)
A blind stinking drunk french guy totals his car in a violent crash. He crawls from the twisted burning wreckage and guzzles from his flask. Down the road he discovers the dreary dive bar Le Paradis, and walks past the bouncer who is out front strangling a patron. Inside are the wretches and dregs; the lost souls and captive maidens. Sirens and Cerberus. The drunken lout is challenged with three tasks, all of which no one has ever lived to complete. With the offer of free booze for life, the challenge is accepted. French filmmakers like to drink and tell bar jokes. And they like to make films inspired by bar jokes. I first heard this one in the Montana Bar in Great Falls back in ‘84. Very well shot with lots of alcoholic French stereotypes, terrific colors and some pretty groovy tunes.
Final Take – A pitcher of Madness.