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Monday, October 26, 2015

Best of the Fest: 2015 Atlanta ShortsFest

Short films don't have the same place in our cinematic culture that they did decades ago. This is incredibly unfortunate, because there are thousands of filmmakers out there with unique visions and fascinating ideas who are making wonderful shorts. Luckily, there are some great film festivals that give these artists a venue to showcase their work. For your viewing pleasure: below are a few of the best short films from this year's Atlanta ShortsFest!




One Billion Dates
dir. by Alec Robbins, 9 min, USA
 


This very clever comedy tackles the curse made when the pressure to find someone before your late twenties meets Tinder. All from the silent visual point of view of a woman in her mid-twenties, she goes on a date with a weird guy who is planning a hard sci-fi book series about the Berenstein Bears in space. This one date, spirals into an endless series of awkward dates with the guy (Alec Robbins, the writer/director as well), and as their relationship moves forward against her will, things get even stranger as an alien invasion and psychedelic drugs move things into absurdist sci-fi territory. Extremely smart and funny, this one is worth seeking out!

(Writer/Director/Star Official Site)

 

Invaders
dir. by Jason Kupfer, 7 min, USA


A nice, tight horror comedy about two inept burglars who plan to use creepy masks and axes to invade an affluent suburban home. Things go fatally wrong from the moment the homeowner opens the door and shoves an electric carving knife into one of their faces, causing a ridiculous and continuous spray of cartoonish blood everywhere. Well-shot and hilarious in the vein of gory favorites like Dead Alive, this one garnered lots of laughs.


(Official Facebook Page)

 

Lifeline
dir. by Jeffery Wang, 17 min, USA 



 On the eve of the Ash vs. the Evil Dead TV series, it was fun to see this very Evil Dead inspired horror short. Lifeline takes place in a fortune teller’s house: after she discovers a client’s lifeline on his palm wraps around his hand, indicating that he is an immortal, she chops his hands off and takes them for her own to secure eternal life…or so she thinks. Of course, the hands take on a life of their own and plot against her, and things get wacky and bloody quickly.

(Official Facebook Page)

 

Don’t Watch Me Dancing
dir. by Michael Evan Deitzler, 20 min, USA


One of the most unique shorts of the fest, this drama is told from the perspective of an amish girl with a deep secret. Without giving too much away: she changes clothes and lets her hair out and visits an old man who loves to dance. Behind this fun relationship is a dark secret that has deeply affected both of their lives. The whole thing is shot with a gritty super-8 film look, with slightly detuned ambience to match. Fascinating, and one of the shorts I’m dying to watch again.

(Official Site)

 

The Script Re-Right
dir. by Maddie Mindling, 13 min, USA




Recording a 30 second radio commercial for a family restaurant becomes much more complicated as the sensitive millennial voice over artist finds fault in everything in the script. “He” and “she” become “your gender neutral child,” and “moms and dads” becomes an endless list of every permutation of possible familial relationship. There’s a lot of fun to be had here in the (mostly improvised) interactions between the artist, the engineer who is head over heels in love with her, and the producer who finds the whole thing totally insane.


(Funny or Die Page)

 

Mini-Supreme
dir. by Michael Phillis, 9 min, USA



After a man is fired from his office job, he spies an opportunity to make some cash out of his proclivities towards doll-collecting and playing dress up. He enters the Mini-Supreme pageant for little girls, claiming to have a rare growth disorder. The short is smart and laugh out loud funny, and has a genuine heart to it that is hard to ignore.
 

(Official Site)

 

Invisible
dir. by Gregg Masuak , 11 min, United Kingdom



In the great tradition of semi-silent comedy in the vein of Mr. Bean, this short takes a look at how a woman is functionally invisible just because she isn’t traditionally attractive. It has some great humorous beats that get even better as she starts using this invisibility to steal money in broad daylight. Where the story goes in the end is a bit controversial and certainly makes a statement, leaving a real impression as the laughs die down a bit.
 

(Official Site)

 

Far Away and Long Ago
dir. by Dominic Mercurio, 3 min, USA



On first glance, this may look like just a music video–and there’s an argument to be made that music videos are short films in their own right–but the key here is how the music and visuals work together to tell a story. The short is done all in one shot as it follows the singer as she walks through a surreal mansion. As the tone in the song shifts from upbeat fantasy to darker cabaret, she finds herself wandering through rooms with creepy creatures reminiscent of old Halloween photos.

 

Come Away With Me
dir. by Ellen Gerstein, 16 min, USA




Ellen Gerstein writes, directs, and stars in this drama short which gets into tear-jerker territory. Her character is an older woman who is back home for a high school reunion and is now visiting her high school sweetheart, who remembers almost nothing from back then. Each time his memory seems to spark, he gets distracted by the sound of trains, which he repeatedly spouts facts about. While it hovers just outside of sappy sentimental, Come Away With Me does it in a smart and more thematically satisfying way than other The Notebook style stories.
 

(Official Site)

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