Reporting from Slamdance – Documentary Shorts

As with most festivals, Slamdance offers a chance to see short films. Shorts give filmmakers a chance to work on their craft with much lower budgets, but shorts can also be an artform or storytelling technique in their own right. That is especially true of documentary shorts that can bring informative and thought-provoking stories that could easily be overlooked. Here are the documentary shorts at Slamdance.

A Family that Steals Dogs (8 minutes, directed by John C. Kelley). This is animated in a somewhat experimental blend of visuals and speaking. It serves as a meditation on loss, family, and mental illness.

About a Home (10 minutes, directed by Daniel Chien and Elizabeth Lo). The Sarria Family documents their life in housing insecurity. It reflects the life of many who live a difficult life in a very well to do area.

Ain?t No Time for Women (20 minutes, directed by Sarra El Abed). This Canadian film takes place in a Tunis hair salon. The women who come in talk about the importance of women to the Arab Spring, but as they look to upcoming elections, they fret about losing the gain in women?s rights to more conservative parties.

Faraway (18 minutes, directed by Aziz Zoromba). Scenes covering four seasons as an Arab man living in Canada who is estranged from him family because of his homosexuality tries to reconnect with his mother.

Field Resistance (16 minutes, directed by Emile Drummer). Another that has an experimental feel to it. No real narrative, but we see agricultural related bits of Iowa joined with more dystopian scenes and comments.

I Think It?s Enough, Isn?t It? (5 minutes, directed by Emily Shir Seagal). As we see videos of father and daughter, a young Israeli woman reflects on the death of her father from COVID when she could not visit him or see the body after his death.The film conveys a small bit of the heartbreak that so many families around the world have encountered in the last year.

Miss Curvy (25 minutes, directed by Ghada Eldemellawy). We watch a 34 year old mother and teacher in a Ugandan beauty pageant for plus-sized women. As she goes through the bootcamp and pageant she deals with the trauma of her marriage and finds value in who she is.

Sleeping with the Devil (24 minutes, directed by Alisa Yang). When the filmmaker told her mother she no longer believed in God, her mother began taking her to faith-healers and exorcists. This film is a Skype exorcism session with an evangelical pastor, Bob Larson. There is no commentary to go along with it. For me, the spiritual (and fihnancial) abuse here is truly cringe worthy.

The Length of Day (18 minutes, directed by Laura Conway). The filmmaker uses archival footage to try to connect with her grandparents who were Communists, and the struggle to bring revolution.

Unforgivable (36 minutes, directed by Marl?n Vi?ayo). A look inside a Salvadoran prison that is essentially run by evangelical churches. Geovany is serving his time in a special locked unit. Not because of his past as an assassin for a street gang, but because he is gay?something that is not accepted by either the gang or the church.

My favorites of the section are Ain?t No Time for Women, I Think It?s Enough, Isn?t It? and Miss Curvy.

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