Thursday night's comic block
The short form is so under-appreciated that I feel a personal charge to go and help find new audiences for it. Perhaps online distribution will one day forge a pathway between shorts and the viewing public, while providing a welcome income for the filmmakers who so often put themselves on the line with the sole hope of developing a calling card to fund a feature.
Shorts themselves, like an O'Henry or Poe story, can provide great entertainment during a meal on the couch, a mid-day work break or as an aperitif to a feature. Filmmakers generally imbue their shorts with much more thought and originality than formulaic television programming, and the films shown on Thursday night at the Beverly Hills Film Festival were no exception to this.
...perhaps 72 virgins might not be an ideal situation
Fight of the Fly, by Shoe Schuster, is a simple story of George's battle from cradle to grave with a species of fly. The fight culminates with George, now age 44, standing in a kiddie pool, surrounded by a clothesline-hung network of flypaper and a trusty swatter, determined to defeat the evil flies even though his wife's water breaks mid-battle. Shoe's hilarious writing - and even his mug with hair akin to Dick Tracy's Flattop – can be seen on Bravo this summer on the reality show 'Situation Comedy'.
Jubin Joseph took a delicate subject matter and imbued it with an appropriate combination of levity and gravitas to create The 73 Virgins. A man named Khalid, chosen to be a suicide bomber, pleads with his girlfriend to be allowed to consummate their love before his certain death. She resists, and subverts the myth of the 72 virgins who supposedly await him in the afterlife. In a dream sequence Khalid realizes that perhaps 72 virgins might not be an ideal situation. The film won the Grand Jury prize for Best Short Film at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. See 73Virgins.com for more info.
They say love cures everything, but The Carpenter and His Clumsy Wife takes this idea to a whole new level. When a woman cuts off a finger in a meat chopping accident, her husband shows his love by constructing a wooden replacement. Husband and wife both think the finger is even more functional and cute than the original. This darkly comic piece becomes darker still as the clumsy wife inevitably suffers more accidents and the carpenter attempts to fix them with his creations.
Chaos Theory, to me, epitomizes what short filmmaking can, and should, acheive. It tells the story of a bumbler named Thor, hilariously portrayed by Donovan Oakleaf, who - through a series of fateful coincidences - becomes involved with Lisa, played beautifully by Alexandra Thum. His goofball nature draws her in despite the warning of her discerning friend. Inventive storytelling, solid direction and inspired performances set this film apart and make this 30 minute piece feel like a 10 minute film with the depth of a feature. See 2d4a.com for more info.
Rounding out the evening Scrambled Eggs, directed by Lorenzo Manetti, took a thoughtful and ironic look at a high school crush. After three years of pining, Julia Green, played by Heather Lindell, finally asks out her dream man and in the process discovers much more about herself, her friends and how tricky adolescence can be.
IndependentFilm.com ended up attending the intimate gathering of filmmakers at the Lowes Beverly Hills Hotel. See the Photo Gallery Day 2 for the pics.