Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Small Gauge Trauma
"Short films, at their best represent cinema distilled to its purest form, unhindered by constraints of commercial demands, minimum times or even the need to please an audience. They allow their makers a degree of freedom that is difficult if not impossible to attain in feature-length work. As vehicles for raw expression, one would expect that short films would be cherished and celebrated lovers of the Seventh Art. And they are...sort of." Mitch Davis
While feature films are widely available for mass consumption, short films usually only make their rounds on the festival circuit and once they do they are lost in obscurity. If a particular filmmaker enters the mainstream like a Tim Burton or a Steven Soderbergh their short films will sometimes be included as supplements on their DVDs. This isn't the case for filmmakers struggling to make a name for themselves.
With that in mind, Small Gauge Trauma is an excellent compilation of what is out there. Hand picked by Fantasia Film Festival programmer Mitch Davis and spanning the years from 1997 to 2004, these shorts represent filmmakers disregarding the limits of cinema and pushing it to new artistic heights. There are a variety of genres represented from 8 different countries and presented in a varying number of formats.
Dir: Paco Plaza
Format: 35 mm
For those afraid of old people, this one is for you. Eerie atmoshpereic short about the macabre events that take place in an old person's home. It's very subdued and has expertly photographed imagery while classical movies plays over it. 8/10
AMOR SO DE MAE (LOVE FROM MOTHER ONLY)
Dir: Dennison Romalho
Ramalho manages to create more horror in 21 minutes than most mainstream horror films can hope to acheieve in 90 minutes. It centers around Macumba voodoo and the black arts. Probably the strangest fact behind the movie is that it was scripted by an actual Macumba priest which only adds to its genuine sense of unsease. 10/10
CHAMBRE JAUNE (YELLOW ROOM)
Dir.: Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Format: Still Photography/Digital
This reminded me alot of the Italian giallos of the 70's. It incorporates the giallo elements into an S & M tinged feverdream. We are presented with a combination of still photographed images and digital photogtaphy. A horrific melding of sensuality and cruelty. One of the shots is reminiscent of the French horror film Inside. 8/10
FLAT -N- FLUFFY
Dir: Benoit Boucher
In the age of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, cartoon shows have broken lots of taboos and experimented. This is a short that would find it's home on that channel when the kids are asleep. An acid trip involving two people who accidentally shoot a war veteran neighbor's dog Fluffy to pieces. 7/10
Dir: Salvador Sanz
An animated vision of the apocalypse. A superstar pop group who turn out to be gorgons. Not too different from superstar popstars we have now come to think of it. 8/10
I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
Dir: Miguel Angel Vivas
The most expensive short ever produced in Portugal. This is a great zombie filled feast of carnage. 9/10
Dir: Guillaume Fortin
A man sits in a room and splices together super 8 filmstrips. On the other side of the coin, an overdosed junkie has flashes of memories of her life. The concept behind this short was brilliant as I am a sucker for anything involving memories. 9/10
Dir: Tomoya Sato
Lil'ya, the title character, documents the suicide of people on her digital camcorder. Expertly done through gruesome imagery, the short has had a difficult time getting seen on the festival circuit. But for those that have seen it can agree that it scars. As Mitch Davis said in the booklet for this DVD "this film will haunt your memories long after the obituaries fade." 8/10
Dir: Tenkwaku Naniwa
An absurd 30 second video from Japanese artist Tenkwaku Naniwa. Short but sweet. 5/10
Dir: Diego Abad
The funniest short on the disc. I commend it for being a musical that laces sex, drugs and ashtray shaped haircuts together in a bizarre cocktail. 7/10
Dir: Robert Morgan
Stop motion animation at its most bizarre but also its most brilliant. The seperation of conjoined twins causes one of them to try to join themselves together again. If short filmmakers were more recognized, Robert Morgan would be just as celebreated as David Lynch or David Cronenberg.
This is not only the best short on this DVD, it's one of the best shorts I've seen period. I cannot praise Robert Morgan's work enough. 10/10
Dir: Philip John
This has a very Twilight Zone-esque feel to it. Concise story that doesn't overstay its welcome and packs a haunting final image.
Dir: Sam Walker
This short takes place at an industrial abattoir. A blood stained worked systematically hacks up his victims without emotion. A grim depiction of desensitization.
For anyone who wants to look into short films, this is the best place to start. There are hardly any weak entries on this DVD and the ones that are, still have something unique to offer.
Synapse Films put out this DVD release and it is available on their website, http://www.synapsefilms.com/.