The best of Shorts Program 2
My first full day at Sundance was nothing but shorts. I had two shorts programs to see, and it’s not that I wasn’t excited to see them, but I did have my reservations. I’ve seen some really great shorts, but there are also plenty that leave me feeling pretty unsatisfied. It takes something special for a short to really grab you and rise above the limitations of the format (the main one obviously being time). However, some of the shorts I saw really blew me away, and I’m definitely looking forward to the remaining sets.
The first set I saw was the Shorts Program 2, and I left with zero disappointment. In fact, two of that selection were so impressive that they moved right to the top of my list of shorts I have seen. My favorite of the seven shorts in the program was Mi nina mi vida by Yan Giroux.
Before I even get to content and meaning, I have to say that the cinematography of this film really moved me. Set mainly in an amusement park, it was able to capture some exquisite scenes that everyone has probably passed in an amusement park; yet it had such a unique vision of what was actually there, I think they did a great job exploring and taking advantage of what the location could do for them.
The content was equally touching for me. With such an immediate strong connection to this pink stuffed bear, I knew the fairly masculine looking guy had some sort of psychological investment into the bear. My mind speculated from a childhood experience (or lack of one) to losing a loved one, and it turns out the ladder was more or less true. The bear is a stand in (and present) for his daughter, who’s birthday it is and who he wished he could spend time with. It is unclear why the daughter is not spending time with her father, but I can only speculate it’s something to do with the mother’s wishes. I found it to be pretty interesting that the director found the inspiration from a man who he saw on the metro who actually had a big stuffed bear.
The next best one (and not far behind) in my opinion was I’m a Mitzvah by Ben Berman. It was a pretty sincere yet comedic story of a guy’s (Ben Schwartz) Jewish friend who passes away while the two are in Mexico, and the journey of getting him back to his grieving mother in the States.
Of course this doesn’t go smoothly, as the only flight out of the small Mexican airport is delayed. Therefore, the friend must deal with his grief the best he can while lugging around the cardboard box that carries the coffin around Mexico for a night. I think it was a great story that was very well told and portrayed. It is a winner of a film all the way around.
I’ve already spent a good amount of time on just two films, so I’ll just kind of highlight my thoughts on some of the others.
I felt The Bravest, the Boldest by Moon Molson was a pretty realistic approach to a pretty touchy subject: baring the news of death to a newly widowed military wife. The approach to the setting was neither over the top nor shallowly attempted.
Pleasure by Ninja Thyberg illustrated the sometimes overly outlandish and ridiculous routines of the porn industry. The concept of the film is really too silly to be taken seriously, which made perfect sense after hearing that the director has a history in anti-porn activism.
As I said to start, I wasn’t disappointed at all by this shorts selection, and I am looking forward to seeing more.