blue balloons CIFF
I covered 4 film slots on day 6 of the 36th Cleveland International film festival, and though it was a lot of life at 32 fps, there was no disappointment.
Independent Shorts Program 3 was not what you'd call a light-hearted stroll through a garden of beautiful imagery (except for the elegantly executed Abiogenesis). Rather is was a solemn reminder of humanity, memory and loss. From the bloody, war-torn streets of Baghdad to the silent waiting room of heaven, these shorts were poignant in their delivery.
1. Incident in New Baghdad: A straightforward look at a soldier returned from fighting in Baghdad, who suffered severely with PTSD. Struggling to keep the things he did and saw while in the war stuffed into the back of his mind, his post-war life exuded the anger he felt as a result - nearly destroying his family. It all comes to a head three years later when he turns on the TV and sees footage of himself running across a courtyard in Baghdad carrying a badly injured child. The short goes on to show how he overcame his PTSD and the went on to speak out against the war and the atrocities he had seen.
2. The Unspoken: It was one of those shorts that leaves you thinking "that's a great idea; I should do that." It is a brief homage to his aging father - a living eulogy of sorts. While images simple images of the father as he is melt across the screen, the son narrates a thank you letter and words of endearment for his father to hear and know before the words are too late.
3. Abiogenesis: A gorgeous piece of CGI animation that shows organic life as it unfolds from what appear to be hybridized insects as they cross an desolate world to created a genesis on it's barren landscape. This short was beautiful and elegant in everything from its idea down to the intricate technicalities. A thoroughly rich piece of imagery. Enjoyable all the way through.
4. The Game: an animated short about a life and death chess match that takes place in the middle of the field. Death, shown as a creatively rendered scarecrow / Charon hybrid, strolls toward the match to deal the final judgment on the loser.
5. dik: a short about how a couple misinterprets the letters "d-i-k" on their sons schoolwork to mean "dick" instead of the intended "bike." So instead of playing with Tommy's bike, the couple believes their extremely young son is playing with Tommy's... well, you get the idea. This assumption leads the couple into relational and sexual troubles of their own in a series of ever-descending miscommunications. While this short was definitely funny, it felt sort of outta place and slightly uncomfortable in the same shorts program as "Love is All You Need."
6. Cataplexy: A man with the distinct disorder of "cataplexy," where he becomes completely paralytic whenever love or emotions become involved. As a result, he hires escorts to come to his home for his coital needs since he can remain detached. However, the latest escort is a girl he went to school with and the resulting aftermath leaves him in a cataplecticic state.
7. Admissions: In a silent, white waiting room between life and the afterlife, two doors stand - one labeled "heaven" and the other "hell." People who meet in this room usually die together and such is the case with a young Jewish couple and a young Jihadist. They end up railing on each other for the hates and injustices endured at the hands of the others' people. In the end, this is a short about forgiveness and understanding... and forgiving even when you can't understand.
8. Love is All You Need?: This was probably one of the most poignant shorts. In a world where roles have been reversed and heterosexuality is now the minority and homosexuality is the social standard, a young school girl is persecuted by classmates, teachers and even family as she struggles with her desires and identity. This juxtaposition makes for a very hard-hitting lesson on hate, bullying and the trauma caused by isolation.