short film review

Reviews and news about short films, short film festivals, reviews, links and guides to short films online,images from short films,directors,writers,cinemaphotographers. Copyright 2005, 2006 by Allan Maurer. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

True North, Rape, and A Half Man at Sundance

(Photo from director Lovinsa Kavuna's, "Rape for Who I Am," examines the way men regard South African lesbians as targets for their sexual assaults. Something of a pc-niche-cause, maybe, not unworthly, but not exactly up there with world hunger and AIDS.

I loved the imagery of this technically sophisticated 14-minute film. Surrealistic shots of Johanisberg, powerful close-ups of the people, and the moderate use of multi-screen and other effects are all put to good use. I actually found the film-making more compelling than the story documented. Kavuna also did the ravishing cinematography.

"True North," another 14-minute short at Sundance, is an impressionistic look at the story of Matthew Henson, a black man servant who accompanied Robert E. Perry's 1909 arctic expedition and may have been the first person to reach the North Pole, or so says the film's promotional material.

Isaac Julien directed somewhat expressionistically. Nearly all the shorts Sundance shows are technically interesting even when their stories -- as here -- are a bit weak. I thought this story in particular had more potential for development than we get here, but then again, I have to ask myself just what I want from 14-minute films, anyway.

I did think the film's "creative" description on the Sundance site is academic twaddle. It describes the film thus: "Here the sublime moment of cognition of the image is presented to the mind itself, which in turn can only comprehend the absolute of magnitude which itself defied conceptualization."

Whew! Fortunately, the film itself is not that dense, but personally, we hope the film-maker sticks to images. A wordsmith he isn't.

"A Half Man," by Firas Momani, is a five-minute exercise in surrealistic animation. A man, played by what looks a lot like one of those transparent dolls that reveal the inside of a body, has trouble adjusting in society because his insides are falling out. Now that's a problem!

The first half of this little film drags and feels padded, but the very funny second half reignited my interest and took me home. It's helped by clever sound effects (Julian Pasieka gets kudos for those) and a effective minimalist music score.

It reminded me at times of Cronenberg's version of "The Fly," (Jeff Goldblum's transformation when pieces of his body began falling off) and partly of Tim Burton's recent "Corpse Bride," although not to the point of outright imitation.

I found this one of the more compelling shorts I've seen so far.

By the way, if you're interested in reviewing short films for this site, drop us a line. We'd love to have a few more fans of short films on board.


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