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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

40th Atlanta Film Festival: Best of the Fest – Short Films

This year was the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Film Festival, and it was a great year for unique, interesting films. Below are my picks for the best shorts films of this year's festival–if one sounds interesting, please seek out and support these filmmakers!

dir. Thoranna Sigurdardottir, USA, 14:58

Maria, a wife and mother, gets fed up with her friends being impossibly fit and having all the time in the world to pursue their goals, and looks to science for an answer. In this world, you can purchase Zelos, a clone of yourself that can do all your daily tasks while you do the things that really matter. Over time, however, it becomes clear that Zelos is becoming more of a mother to her children while she obsessively trains to beat her friend in a race. Zelos is funny, unsettling, and extraordinarily clever in the way it explores our impossible expectations of women. It is no wonder that Sigurdardottir won this year's Filmmaker to Watch Out For; this one is well worth watching!  See the full film here.

Rate Me
dir. Fyzal Boulifa, United Kingdom, 17:00

This short takes a novel and modern approach to a character portrait through only ratings on a prostitution website. There are nearly a dozen perspectives on this woman, from johns, a photographer, former schoolmates, and eventually herself (supposedly). It is exceptionally clever and disturbing as it devolves into the manic violence that online conversations all too often turn into.

The Man of My Life
dir. Mélanie Delloye, France, 25:33 

This film follows a heartbroken middle school girl who finds out the boy she thought she was dating is with another girl in her class. It is sad and funny, and explores the complex way that young women deal with sexuality and friendship. This one might be painfully true to life for many, and the last scene is wrought with tension, concern, and joy.

A Place I've Never Been
dir. Adrian Flury, Switzerland, 4:40 

In this experimental short, the filmmaker takes thousands of tourist photos from different archives and puts them in a meaningful order that creates a sense of movement and 3D space around Greek architecture. The film is visually explosive and supremely cool, and provides an interesting comment on the nature of tourism photography and what it takes to actually grasp a new place. Read more here.

An Ecstatic Experience
dir. Ja'Tovia Gary, USA, 6:11 

 This experimental film is a bit hard to describe, so I'll use the official description: "An invocation and a meditation on transcendence as a means of restoration and resistance." Gary uses manipulated film from a play in which an African-American woman relates her mother's experience as a slave and how she suddenly comes to a realization intercut with modern footage of the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. It is a powerful and beautiful film. Follow the director's work here.

See also my picks for best features of the film festival! 
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