Narrative Shorts 1 played at the Alamo Draft House and featured a collection of short films that I promise will leave you emotionally drained – but that is a good thing. The films screened Saturday at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin dealt with heavy subjects, like the death of a newborn child to a man who leaves his abortion money on the night stand. It suffices to say that there were few comedies, too.
The filmmakers leave it all on the screen as they convey a raw emotion that hits a nerve.
Narrative Shorts 1 included: “Another Bullet Dodged” by Landon Zakheim, “The Chair” by Grainger David, “Liar” by Adam Garnet Jones, “A Fábrica” by Aly Muritiba, “Joy” by Colm Quinn, “Little Dad” by Noah Pritzker, “Not Far From the Abattoir” by Kyle Thomas and “Syndromes” by The Golden Filter and Kristoffer Borgli.
The Good: “Another Bullet Dodged”, ”The Chair” — these two were the best — but “A Fábrica”, “Joy”, “Little Dad”, “Not Far From the Abattoir” were all great films.
“Another Bullet Dodged” follows a young woman and young man and what they deal with when they have an abortion, and the implosion of a relationship that once was, but has now become simple gestures grasping at familiarities. The young man is so slimy and repulsive that it made me uncomfortable in my own seat a handful of times. He makes Rush Limbaugh look like Susan B. Anthony. He goes from bad to worse and by the end of the film there is simply no redemption for him.
The other film, “The Chair” is about a young boy who deals with a deadly mold epidemic that kills his mother and then the people in his South Carolina town. This is a poetic film that unfolds stanza by stanza with such beauty and an echoing depth.
The Bad: “Syndromes” carried too long, which is kind of tragic when it comes to a short film. There is not much dialogue and a lot of imagery that is more of a throwback to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” video from the mid 1990s. It is about a young girl who can heal the sick, but this leads to her own.
Audience Favorite: Most of the public reacted to “Joy” by Colm Quinn. This film deals with a school girl giving birth to a baby who dies a couple of hours afterwards. She then deals with the baby’s corpse being left in the room as a sort of coping mechanism. The whole theatre had a collective “aha” moment when the curtain was pulled and the deceased baby was revealed. During the Q&A period there were multiple testimonials by people who were moved to share their own personal experiences.
Without a doubt this was the best series of shorts I have attended where I was impressed by one right after another. “The Chair” was great in expressing mankind’s helplessness when it can no longer look at either God or science for salvation. I cannot recommend these shorts enough although “Syndromes” felt a bit cold and out of place.