Tribeca 2011: Short Film Round-Up 1

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
Despite being in the online age of video, it seems the short film is still somewhat neglected when it comes to a proper outlet, so today I'll be shining the spotlight on a handful of the 60 short films playing at this year's Tribeca, many of them from some fine regional talents. Selection films will also be available to watch online through Tribeca's website.


Shandor Garrison's Nightlife chronicles an evening in New York City, when two teens from very different sides of town strike up a friendship. The performances from Adam Soto and Olivia Whelan are nice and nuanced; they are lonely youth who just need to know that they matter to another, even if just for a few fleeting hours. Garrison as writer and director does not overstep his boundaries, which can be so easy to do in a "slice of life" piece such as this. He tells a sweet story competently and with a quiet emotional depth. It may not be anything particularly new, but it is done well, without schmaltz, and holding genuine sentiment.


Dutch filmmaker Johan Kramer states in his film Bye Bye Super 8, "It's time to make a proper homage," for Kodachrome's Super 8 film K40, once the most popular family film stock in the world. What Kramer has done here is simple and utterly beautiful, mixing footage of his own childhood adventures on Super 8 with countless other families from around the world plus 25 children from 2010, to give them the gift of their eighth year on film. Leader streams, images flash and flicker, the colors pop like candy coated magic mirrors from our collective nostalgia, for this is truly the stuff dreams are made of. To know that this film is no longer made, well for any lover of honest-to-god celluloid, it kind of gets the tear ducts flowing... and all in five minutes.


Like alien jellyfish tendrils, streams of paper cling to trees and lampposts in Current (Reprise). This is the aftermath of New York's first ticker tape parade post 9/11. Atmospheric and downright unsettling, Brian Doyle films the familiar setting of Lower Manhattan through the eyes of distrust and a cacophony of technological blips and beeps. For as he films the quiet storm of ticker tape gathering, swirling in the streets, on the sidewalks and in the gutters, electronic eyes from above watch him. Experimental filmmaking at its most otherworldly yet strikingly real.


Rider and Shiloh Strong's The Dungeon Master touches on all the apparent geek stereotypes (living in parent's basements, never seen a vagina), without a lot of spark or cleverness, minus the punchline that its 13 minutes build up to. I'd like to say it's an admirable effort because there is a genuine cathartic moment wherein they explore the insecurity of being "post-geek", that's kind of dark, kind of mean spirited, and somewhat true (at least in idea if not execution), but in the end the film is just kind of a crass gag... Albeit one where geeks rule.


Compassion is the word of the day in Kirsten Green's Hauraki. A mother and her eight-year old daughter encounter a rural farmer when the girl gets carsick and vomits on the woman's property. Lensed beautifully by Rob Marsh, the film has a soft melancholy and eventual sweetness running through its rural New Zealand roadways.


A veritable one-man show, Richard Cunningham imagines the zombie apocalypse with simple animation and stamp-like filtered photography models in Year Zero. It's a diary of transgressive minutia, perhaps even finding a thread of satire in the insanity of urban living. Dragging on a bit at 24 minutes, it is nonetheless an impressive showcase for a visual style that recalls the underground comics scene.

I'll be back in a few days with another round of shorts from the fest. In the meantime...
 
Nightlife Screens in the "Open 24 Hours" Program: April 23, 27, 30, and May 1

Bye Bye Super 8 and Current (Reprise) Screen in the "Impressions of Memory" Program: April, 24, 29 and May 1

The Dungeon Master (Also available online) and Hauraki Screen in the "Mix Tape" Program: April, 23, 28, 30 and May 1

Year Zero (Also available online) Screens in the "All You Can Eat" Program: April 24, 25, 29 and May 1


[Photo Credit: Rob Marsh]
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