Monday, January 21, 2008

Sundance: Slamdance Shorts

[Film Fest] The best part about Slamdance's Gallery Screening Room is the small, intimate feel. It's the perfect place to screen shorts.

"Bush" by Irish director Fran Apprich, led Shorts Block 1. Perhaps there’s some cynicism on my part, but the short felt like a home video. It opens with a child putting on play makeup. She goes on to talk about bushes. "I don't like them. They can poke you and my mom says not to eat the berries." Later, she says she likes flowers, specifically bluebells. This film could be a political statement on another Bush, but that'd be a stretch.

The opening sequence of "There’s a Werewolf in My Attic" is peppered with sharp scary sounds, reminiscent of Scooby-Doo. The acting is strained and amateurish, but director Sam Thompson's clear obsession with the horror genre makes it possible to poke fun at it, resulting in an entertaining, campy little film.

The biggest surprise was “A Catalog of Anticipation,” directed by David Lowery. Upon reading the description – “A foreboding fairy tale about a little girl and her strange affinity for all things deceased” – I expected the film to play out like a student project: strange, indiscernible and morbid. It was quite the opposite. A combination of stop-motion animation and still photography, the visuals are immediately striking. There is a fondness for this young girl and her preoccupation. Lowery described his desire to make a film, but “I only had a still camera, so I used it for both the still images and the animation.” The combination is beautiful.

Slamdance has six shorts blocks, each screening twice during the festival. Within each, are a few bad films but many surprising ones. (Tawnya Cazier)

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