My inexpert take on the selection of short films from the Sundance 2014 Film Festival as seen at Cornell Cinema.
A strange short about the Zambia Space Academy’s attempt to launch a 17-year-old girl named Matha to the moon after “training” consisting of bouncing her up and down on a bed sheet and rolling her down a hill in a barrel. The absurdity is pitiful, but I suppose that’s what made it interesting. The fact that it’s filmed entirely in black and white creates a stark contrast between Matha (an albino) and the rest of the dark skinned cast that’s visually appealing, but I didn’t really enjoy watching it. The ambiguous ending, in my opinion, could make for a great ending or an unsatisfying one. For me, it was the latter.
2. La Coupe (The Cut)
This was definitely one of my favorites. There isn’t much plot, but the currents of familial obligation, disappointment, and unconditional love made it a subtly moving film. The girl’s acting is phenomenal for someone so young, and though there was not a lot of dialogue, the things that went unsaid were the most powerful. La Coupe is poignant but also heart-warming, and the skillfully executed father-daughter interactions are extremely realistic and relatable.
As a generally naive young woman with a weak stomach, Dawn was very difficult for me to watch. It’s about a girl who develops a crush on a boy she barely knows and, through a series of attempts at being cool and laid-back on Dawn’s part, finds herself in the woods at night with no way out. The clip at the beginning of the film lets you know straight off the bat that there is something insidious happening, and my dread only heightened as the story unfolded. Of course, that’s how a thriller is supposed to make you feel, so much of my dislike is biased. The film itself had a cool retro feel complete with cheesy retro acting, but the perverse ending scared the wits out of me.
4. I Think This Is the Closest to How the Footage Looked
This short was, in one word, heartbreaking. The guy behind the camera recreates the final footage of his mother on her deathbed using a tube of toothpaste and other random household objects to compensate for the fact that he rewound the tape without telling anybody and consequently, his father taped over all but a few seconds. It hit me hard in the feels. That is all.
5. Love, Love, Love
Though I don’t immediately remember this one when I think about the lineup, I enjoyed it. The film features clips of girls/women of every age and voiceovers giving the audience their take on love. Sometimes comical and sometimes touching, this one was a pleasant short that was well executed in every respect.
A re-enactment of an actual encounter between a lawyer and a witness when a company in Ohio is sued. The lawyer’s increasing irritation and the witness’s dumbfounded look as he asks “When you say photocopier, what do you mean?” is downright hilarious. The comedy is present throughout the whole short, and the biggest laugh comes at the end. I don’t have to say much about this one except that I can’t believe there are people who are that stupid.
Essentially just a music video of a middle-aged man singing music from the opera Carmen with cameos by his elderly mother, men in plastic black bodysuits, and many more outlandishly dressed extras. It was amusing and ridiculous, but not necessarily a valuable film-watching experience.
8. I’m a Mitzvah
A young American man must tote his friend’s corpse around Mexico because his flight back to the U.S. is canceled. I don’t have very strong opinions about this one, but nonetheless, I still liked it. The protagonist’s way of handling the situation is outlandish and unbelievable, but in the end, he acts just as a best friend should. At times laugh-out-loud amusing and at times bittersweet, it’s an unconventional account of the process of grieving.