The DC Shorts Film Festival wraps up this Sunday. Now in its eight year, this celebration of cinema brought 145 films from 23 countries to Washington. As the Blogger-in-Chief for DC Shorts, I’ve seen a lot of short films. Not all, but enough to have my favorites. Here they are:
At the Q&A after the screening, director Levi Abrino said that he was looking to make a movie with the emotional resonance and complexity of a Chekhov short story. He succeeded – this tale of a divorced dad’s struggle to hold on to his son is moving, sad, funny and yet affirming as well. It demonstrates what independent film does so well, by portraying the drama of people who could be your neighbors. Little Horses won a DC Shorts Audience Favorite Award and a Filmmakers’ Favorite Award.
The Man in 813
This is one of several local films in the festival. We also did an interview with director Arlin Godwin on the DC Shorts blog. The Man in 813 is scarcely longer than its trailer, but still manages to tell a funny, creepy story that anyone who has ever lived in an apartment building can relate to – what are my neighbors up to? What’s significant is that the film was shot by one person in his apartment using a Canon T2i, a digital still camera that also shoots video. This short basically cost nothing and yet was screened with films that costs thousands of dollars, a potent demonstration of the advances in technology allow anyone to be a filmmaker.
The script for Interview Date won the DC Shorts Screenplay Competition last year. I read this script as a judge for the contest, then watched it being performed before a live audience. As the winner of the festival, Interview Date received $2000 from DC Shorts to turn their script into a movie. I was delighted when director Mike Lemcke and comedian Grant Lyon returned this year with a finished film. It’s been a fascinating journey to watch, this transition of words on a page to moving images on a screen. This connection between a screenplay competition and a film festival makes DC Shorts unique, turning writers into filmmakers.
The Scarecrow Girl
For me, this was the most beautiful film of the festival. While shooting in rural Brazil, director Cássio Pereira dos Santos took hours of sky shots, because they were so amazingly blue. These shots frame a film about a young girl in rural Brazil who wants to go to school but can’t. It’s a true story, taken from stories told by Cássio’s grandmother.
These four films are a great demonstration of the power of independent film to tell stories that you’re not going to get out of Hollywood. Rather than relying on formulas and catch-phrases, indie film at its best communicates visions that are both original and unique.