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last update 6.Nov.10
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Iris Prize Festival 4th Iris Prize Festival
The 30 shorts in competition for the Iris Prize. Cardiff, 4-9.Oct.10 (page 4 of 4)
Bedfellows   4/5
dir-scr Pierre Stefanos
with Paul Caiola, Bret Shuford, Kevin Duda, Nikki Ghisel, Bill Saunders, Tom Gualtieri
10/US 15m
caiola and shuford
Bedfellows Told like a lively fairy tale, this sharply engaging short has an intriguingly serious subtext beneath its bright and often very funny surface. Bobby (Caiola) has just had his heart broken by his first love when the almost too-hunky Jonathan (Shuford) buys him a drink in a New York bar. They end up in bed, and when Bobby blurts out, "I think I love you," Jonathan replies, "You mean you loved it, right?" But while cuddling, Bobby falls asleep and dreams their whole life together: a hilarious rush through marriage, children, grandkids and quiet old age. Then he wakes up and has to face the truth. Filmmaker Stefanos holds the balance between comedy and emotion just right from start to finish, including some very funny gags along the way. And even more telling is the exploration of personal insecurity, sex as an ego boost, and the mixture of joy and sorrow that makes life an adventure. The film's only misstep is the narration (jauntily voiced by Gualtieri), which isn't really necessary as it continually states the obvious. But Stefanos is clearly a gifted filmmaker to watch.
To the Marriage of True Minds   3.5/5  
dir-scr Andrew Steggall
with William El Gardi, Amit Boutrous, Jane Bertish, Raad Rawi
10/UK 11m
el gardi
To the Marriage of True Minds Although the plot feels a little overloaded and predictable, this well-made short also touches on an extremely important current issue. It's about two young men, Hayder and Falah (El Gardi and Boutrous), who are forced to flee from Baghdad due to their sexuality. They take a dangerous overground route, but when they arrive in Britain they are grabbed by the authorities. And while Hayder is quizzed by an immigration officer (Bertish) about his appeal for refugee status, the interpreter (Rawi) has his own prejudices, which we can see in the subtitles. The strongest connection we have in this film is Hayder's strong concern about Falah; he continually pleads for information and is met with stony silence from the authorities. Filmmaker Steggall shoots this with a documentary-style urgency that heightens the sense of desperation. And there are also some very powerful flashbacks to life in Iraq. So it's a little distracting that he continually quotes the eponymous Shakespeare sonnet, making it clear that there's some big meaning here, but never quite conveying it to us.
Engayging Lives   3/5
dir Shruti Rao
with Kris Bass, Nitin Karani
10/India 26m
Engayging Lives
Engayging Lives This straightforward half-hour documentary vividly paints a portrait of the situation for out gay people in India. The film is a bit rough around the edges, and skips around between interviewees in a way that lessens the emotional impact of their individual situations, but it's also packed with great material. Basically, it's a series of talking-head interviews with young professional men and women - surgeon, journalist, musician, tailor - who have a passion to express themselves in their society but are constrained by cultural and societal issues. All of them talk about the struggle to come out to their parents, most of whom believed that they were "straight convertible" and should be sent to a healer. One also admits to being HIV-positive and faces even more severe discrimination, such as being forced to use his own set of dishes at home. Some of the abuse gets even stronger, with physical and verbal abuse and threats of blackmail. And all of them talk about the notorious Article 377, which criminalised homosexuality and was only recently overturned. Even so, financial and legal issues continue to make life much more difficult for them. Despite the awkward structure of the film, it helps us see how far India has come over recent years on this issue. And how far it still has to go toward a more equal society.
You Can’t Curry Love 4/5  
dir-scr Reid Waterer
with Ashwin Gore, Rakshak Sahni, Russell Reynolds, Upasana Beharee, Rajan Velu, William Vega
09/UK 23m
sahni and gore
You Can't Curry Love With a corny Bollywood style, this cute, smiley romance wins us over. Although we kind of wish they'd started the song and dance numbers much earlier in the film. It's about an Indian Londoner Vikas (Gore), whose lusty, innuendo-prone boss Thom (Reynolds) sends him to India on business. He immediately hooks up with hotel receptionist Sunil (Sahni), and their secret romance makes his visit much more fun than he expected. But as the time comes when Vikas has to return to London, they realise that they've fallen for each other. The clever script is packed with silly comedy that keeps us laughing, and there are some very nice touches along the way, such as how Vikas and Sunil can be as physical as they want in public, because India doesn't have a phobic macho-style culture. On the other hand, they can't admit that they're gay. The film also expands to look at some other big issues, including a transsexual (Velu) character and Vikas' friend (Beharee) in Los Angeles. All of this makes the film a bit soap-like, but the cheesy, happy plot is a real charmer.
Bombshell   3/5  
dir Kim Farrant
scr Kim Farrant, Anthony Johnsen
with Paul Pantano, Ashley Lyons, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Zoe Carides, Yael Stone, Sarah Grant
09/Australia 15m
Bombshell The title refers to a bit of information that creates havoc in a Greek-Australian family that prides itself on its masculine camaraderie. We meet two brothers as they are leering at a woman in a lift, then go on to visit their parents, where the guys joke and banter with their father in a thuggish way that drifts into casual homophobia, but not even their mother bats an eye. When Dad ends up in hospital, a secret emerges that blurs the accepted sexuality between these three men. They end up coming to blows as a result, and the film's harsh honesty is pretty unflinching. Filmmaker Farrant matches this tone with muscular filmmaking that feels rough and edgy from the start, plus a surging sense of pace as events get out of control for these three men. There isn't much of a plot besides the big revelation, and the film doesn't really have much to say about the causes or solutions to this kind of extremist machismo. But as an exploration of the true meaning of masculinity, it does get us thinking.
Tech Support   4/5
dir Erik Gernand
scr Erik Gernand, Jenny Hagel
with Marla Caceres, Jenny Hagel, Melissa Cathcart, Niki Lindgren, Carrie Barrett, Jay Olson
09/US 9m
tech support This simple but hilarious comedy is packed with corny jokes but keeps us laughing all the way through, mainly because it's so cleverly constructed and played. Staring at a rat's nest of cables, a woman calls a support-line for help. While waiting for some file updates to transfer, which could take two to four hours, the two women start to talk about past relationships, making some surprising connections along the way as they discover how much they have in common. The script is both smart and very silly, and the filmmakers have a great time creating visual gags along the way. Even if the film is a bit broad in its approach, it's consistently amusing. And the tentative connection between these women is extremely cute. As one comments, "This was the most amazing two to four hours of my life."
The Single Mother   3/5
dir-scr Ryan Logan
with Jason Rickenbach, Nedsin Cordre, Michael Britton, Karl Bayerlein, Cherine Simonsen, Kaden Simonsen, Aimee Madsen
09/US 6m
The Single Mother Brightly colourful and very camp, this witty short uses a silent movie style to tell its comical story of a blond twink (Rickenbach) who dreams of being a mother. But since he's a boy, he's not allowed to adopt a baby or work as a nanny. Then a single dad (Cordre) moves in next door and he gets some inspiration. Set in Salt Lake City, the film has a goofy charm that makes up for its rather cheesy production values. And the cast is thoroughly engaging. But what makes it worth a look is the inventively witty approach it takes to what's actually a very serious issue. The fluffy silliness is only superficial, because this little film has a big heart.
Professor Godoy   4.5/5
dir-scr Gui Ashcar
with Roney Facchini, Kaue Telloli
09/Brazil 14m
telloli and facchini
Professor Godoy Warm cinematography and a solid cast give this film a real dramatic kick. Godoy (Faccini) is a teacher who is stuck in a rut; after 25 years he feels that the "useless kids" in his class are a waste of his time. Then one of them, Felipe (Telloli) starts sending him little notes that provoke him out of his boredom. Vaguely abusive, Felipe simply won't give up, and Godoy finds his fantasies running away with him. And the repeating patterns of his life are rattled back to life. The film looks beautiful, with a deep, dense production design that draws us in and characters who are so vividly authentic that the whole film bristles with possibilities. One sequence in particular features a breathtaking use of lighting. But what makes the film memorable is that we never have a clue where it's heading, and writer-director Ashcar's work is both delicate and refreshingly open-handed.
Organism: A Coming of Age Story   2.5/5  
dir-scr Nina Reyes Rosenberg
with Samantha Greiff, Ji Young
09/US 13m
young and greiff
Organism: A Coming of Age Story Carmen (Greiff) is a teen in high school who shares an unexpected glance with Asian goth Jen (Young). Several months later, their relationship is on the rocks because Jen can't cope with the fact that Carmen isn't out. Filmmaker Rosenberg shoots this in saturated, dense colours that add a nice counterpoint to the film's otherwise choppy, comical tone. It's very nicely directed, with some extremely inventive touches and several memorable images. And the cast is very good. But due to a strangely oblique approach to editing, the whole thing feels somewhat tentative. So while there are moments that are funny, emotive and even shocking, the film as a whole lacks coherence or pace. And in the end, this leaves it feeling rather cold and unmoving.
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