Narrative shorts are films that are storytelling stripped down to the essentials. You don’t have time in shorts to develop side plots or bring in very many characters. You just put the story out there to be enjoyed or thought about. As I’ve had time, I’ve looked at a few of the narrative shorts that are part of the Slamdance Film Festival this year. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Autoscopy. (14 minutes, directed by Claes Nordwall). A young man goes into the woods with sound equipment capturing the sounds of nature. Along the way he finds an abandoned floatation chamber that leads him to a trippy chance to look at himself.
Blue. (15 minutes, directed by Ali Şenses). A man walks through the city carrying a paint bucket and a long-handled brush. As he walks the handle of the brush hits everything, making noises. Until he hits a particular piece of fence that makes the sound he’s been searching for.
Each Other. (6 minutes, directed by Oskar Weimar). This is more dance that story. A very limber naked man emerges from a tree and seeks to understand what his place in the world is. Cow? Chicken? Something else?
Trammel. (11 minutes, directed by Christopher Bell). A solitary man comes in to the local pharmacy to talk to his friend behind the counter. He tells his stories. We may or may not believe him. The key question I asked myself during this film is what assumptions I made about the man based on his appearance and his stories.
Inside the Storm. (14 minutes, directed by Daniel Bloom). A man who has had a break up goes to visit a friend he hasn’t seen in a long time. The man isn’t in a healthy place. I found it a bit hard to watch for the ways he seemed to be degrading himself.
Returning. (14 minutes, directed by Lucy Bridger). A retired teacher, whose husband is away for a few days, deals with a man helping her with her garden. It’s interesting how much we learn about the married couple and the desires and frustrations the woman experiences.
Mada (Mother). (20 minutes, directed by Joseph Douglas Elmhirst). A young woman in rural Jamaica has conflict with her devout mother over allowing her son to play with a doll. The grandmother wants them to go to church so they don’t fall into the wrong paths. But we see both women are seeking what is best for the boy, even if they have very different ideas of what that is.
Young Forever. (15 minutes, directed by Stevie Szerlip). A Korean woman in Los Angeles, struggles with a pyramid cosmetic sales program, gambling, debt, and loss. Her sales pitch is about getting away from stress, but her life is filled with it.
There. (29 minutes, directed by Wu Yu Fen). An Indonesian caregiver mourns “Grandpa”, whom she has been taking care of. She is now planning to return to Indonesia to care for her ailing mother. But with Grandpa’s children all working abroad, there are few people around to mourn Grandpa at his funeral. The key contrast is seen in the care the woman has for the deceased in her prayer by herself as opposed to the prayer cried by the professional mourner.