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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fifth Annual Cine Noir festival in Wilmington

Cine Noir: A Festival of Black Film

Thursday, March 2 – Sunday, March 5

Reception Hall, Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC

Sponsored by The Black Arts Alliance, in conjunction with Cameron Art Museum

The four-day jury and invitational festival of independent motion pictures by African-American filmmakers will showcase feature-length, short subject, animation, music videos, and documentary films. Other highlights include Distinguished and Emerging Filmmaker Award winners, Kiddy Cinema, and free workshops.

The 2006 Emerging Filmmaker Award winner is music video director Lenny Bass. The 2006 Trailblazer Award winner is Dwayne McDuffie, co-creator of the Cartoon Network's hit animation series "The Justice League". Both will attend the festival.

For tickets and more information, call the Black Arts Alliance office at 910-350-2681 or visit its website:
Fifth Annual Cine Noir: A Festival of Black Film

Monday, February 27, 2006

Short films for cell phones?

The New York Times reports that New Corp is exploring developing very short films for delivery to cell phones. They say:

"In what is the boldest venture yet by an established media company to insinuate itself into millions of cellphones, the News Corporation has created a mobile entertainment store called Mobizzo and a production studio to focus exclusively on developing cellphone entertainment."

Read article

Friday, February 24, 2006

Riverrun Shows Its Shorts

The Winston Salem, NC Riverrun International Film Festival is showing its shorts program at various venues in North Carolina's Triad region. For an update, see our other site, NCFlix.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Beverly Hills Shorts Festival Presents Eclectic Mix

The Beverly Hills Short Film festival this weekend, Feb. 24-26, has a strong mix of dramatic and genre offerings -- "Zombie Prom" (see first photo below) and "Beyond Blue, Mankind's Deepest Dive," "Balloon Animals," (third photo) and "Rose," (fourth pic) got my attention with their promo art. Lot's of the others look equally intriquing.

Beverly Hills Shorts Festival This weekend

The Beverly Hills Shorts Festival runs from Feb. 24 to 26 this year. It has an outstanding lineup of short films that it's location in LA means the films get viewed by an influential audience.

Shorts Programs Can be Tops

A number of critics and many viewers have said for years that documentaries are often the best films at Sundance and many another festival.

These days, we often find that festival shorts programs are among their strongest offerings and sometimes far outdo the features in creativity, production values, cinematography and other qualities. This weekend, the "Nevermore Horror Film Festival" in Durham, NC, presented a number of intriquing features, but the programmers themselves admitted the shorts program equaled if not bettered the features lineup.

Horror and sci-fi shorts often work better than other genres, or it could be we're just prejudiced toward those genres generally. In any case, "Feast of Souls," "Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day," and "The Last Piece Standing," entertained and amused me and my journalist colleagues as much as any feature at Nevermore.

"The Big Thing," was nominated for a Genie Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars, for best live action short. It is lusciously shot and won a slew of festival awards. You can buy a copy here's the site: The BIG Thing.

I was impressed by the feature work of Andrew van den Houten, director and producer of "Headspace." Although this is his first feature, he did something like 15 short films prior to "Headspace," and I'm going to see if any are out there, because I'd sure like to see them.

"Headspace" had the added attraction of honest-to-movies stars: Olivia Hussey, William Atherton, Udo Kier, and Sean Young. Orson Welles and John Cassevettes used to maintain that performances were more central to the success or failure of a movie than direction, and in many cases, I'm inclined to agree with them. "Headspace" has good performances thoughout and not just by the established stars.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hello, Thanks, at Sundance

I enjoyed a number of shorts shown at this year's Sundance Film Festival that I haven't managed to review yet. They include Andy Blubaugh's eight-minute color documentary about his year as a "GWM, scruffy, 5'7"..." in the personal ads.

It's called "Hello, Thanks." (Click on the link to watch)

Andy discovers that the writing the ads turns him on in a way none of the resulting relationships seem to, not unusual, as he says, for someone who's spent a lot more time with words than with people.

This film is well shot from an often unique point of view and I mean that on several levels. The camerawork, while never self-consciously arty, conveys a slightly off-center attitude reflected in Blubaugh, which you see primarily in the personal ads.

If you can read them. One good thing about seeing this on the Internet is that you can watch it a second time and read the bottom half of his longer messages. They're outrageous and hilarious and revealing. But I read pretty fast and I couldn't catch all of those longer ads the first time through. But they're worth reading all the way through. I bet this film got some hearty laughs during its Sundance run, because even the shorter readable ads grow increasingly hysterical - and hysterically funny, maybe a little sad too sometimes.

I think that must be Andy's sister Amber --she's billed as Amber Blubaugh-- he's chatting with in the film. She's a high verbal like he is and they have that sibling resemblance, although I could be wrong. She has some of the best lines, which I won't give away here. Not that I necessarily agree with her, but they are good lines, poetic even.

Andy's relationships may not have a lot of closure, but in a way, those words in his ads are a path to self-discovery for him that gives this film a sense of closure. If I wanted to get into the spirit of this film, I'd play around with the word "climax" here.

Another film I enjoyed and will review later is "Exoticore," not to mention numerous others I have more mixed feelings toward. You can catch them all here: Sundance Shorts

These films are generously made available on the Internet by the filmmakers and Sundance people so that we can all watch them, and in case you haven't noticed previously, in this blog the title is a link that takes you to the film where you can watch it too. I saw a blog recently with a "Watch Now" button I may steal. But anyway, I hope more film festivals adopt this policy of making their short films availalbe online for a time. It will greatly enhance their exposure and impact.

Short Film Archive Has Lofty Goals

Another excellent resource for those interested in short films, particularly their history and development from the beginning of film to the present, which we found via "The Short Sheet" is the UNLV Short Film Archive.

Here's their mission statement from the site:

"The goal of the UNLV Short Film Archive is to establish a comprehensive collection of significant short films from all over the world from the beginning of filmmaking to the present.

"The cornerstone of the archive will be the Archive 100, the one-hundred most significant shorts, culturally, historically or aesthetically, selected by an international panel of film historians, recognized film festival programmers, film producers, directors, distributors and recognized short film scholars.

"The UNLV Short Film Archive will acquire, preserve, restore and archive these most important shorts and subsequently make them available to an international constituency of acade
mic faculty, scholars, students and professionals."

We wish them well with their goals and plan to send them some continuing traffic as we review some of the archived films and keep you posted on what they're up to.

Check Out The Short Sheet Blog

Jon Ponder runs "The Short Sheet," a very good blog about short films, not dissimilar from ours, although less review and more news oriented.

Jon tells us, "I started publishing my research, basically, in the Short Sheet in June 2004. Jon is a former North CArolina resident who lived in and around Charlotte, where he majored in theatre at UNCC.

You'll find lots of useful resources in the posts and links at The Short Sheet.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Coney Island Short Film Fest call for entries

The 6th Annual Coney Island Film Festival will take place October 6 - 8, 2006. Call for entries will be announced mid February. If you would like to be contacted about this or any other events presents, join their announcement email list.

Here's the Website:

IFC Short Web Movies Go to TV

IFC plans to show short films selected from those submitted to their Website, where viewers will decide which get a run on the cable channel between features. Ya gotta love IFC for everything they do if you're a fan of Indie cinema.

They're going to be on the forefront of giving short films an excellent venue for exposure, evaluation and evolution.

Let's face it, it you're a "movie geek" as Quentin Tarantino likes to put it, independent films deliver a lot more punch than a whole lotta Hollywood fodder aimed at making a buck, and IFC brings them to us properly, without commercials, widescreen, and uncut. I don't mind a movie actually making money. But my favorite films these days are small flicks like "Junebug."

Yet, I also loved Peter Jackson's "King Kong," which many another movie buff liked as much as I did. That's the only movie over two hours, let alone three, that I ever made it through without going to the bathroom at least once. Must be the caffiene in those diet cokes. Those in-jokes recursively referring back to the original were absolutely hilarious and kinda moving at the same time.

But I digress. Then again, what the heck would a blog be without digressions? It's such a pleasurably personal form of communication, rather free of a certain commercial influence that subtly affects so much journalism these days.

I guess the key points I'm flapping around here are that indie films show what you can do with minimal budgets and maximum creativity, while the opposite is often true from major studios.

One of the reasons I love short films is that they show so much creativity. You see technical expertise at dazzling and visually compelling levels that makes you overlook many of their, pardon the pun, short-comings.

I'd love to see more short film makers focus on creating a really strong, moving, effective short movie with a satisfying climax. "Gopher Broke," "Exoticore," "Moma's Boy," and "Robin's Big Date," among some others, managed this fairly well among those at this year's Sundance festival (see earlier reviews of same or look for forthcoming ones).

Here's the piece about IFC's new short film initiative, which supports my contention that short films are going to acquire a major media significance faster than you can say abracadabra. Well, maybe not quite THAT fast. But pretty quick, my compadres.

IFC Web Movies

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Oscar-Nominated "Shorts" to Screen in NYC

Today the Academy announced special screenings in New York:

"On Saturday, February 25, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present two public screenings of the ten Oscar-nominated films in the Animated Short and Live Action Short categories. The screenings will feature the five films from each category, providing a rare opportunity for New York moviegoers
to see the nominees prior to the 78th Academy Awards® telecast on Sunday, March 5."

For a list of films and screening time and location, visit:
Oscar-Nominated "Shorts" to Screen in NYC

Photo courtesy of the A.M.P.A.S. ARR. Here: the statuettes of the 78th Academy Awards are on display in a public exhibition, “Meet the Oscars: The 50 Golden Statuettes,” at the Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, California.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Action Cut Short Film Competition Open


Deadline: May 15. Action/Cut sponsors the only industry-driven short film competition annually and opens doors to winners with 125 prizes valued at over $50,000 including career-enhancing meetings with Hollywood players and crucial talent promotions for furthering careers.

They invite you to view their 2005 winning films at their Website including the Grand Prize winner & Best of Category winners.

Enter your film and ignite your career with the most prizes of any shorts film competition in the world.

Categories: Fiction Live Action - Documentary - Animation - Student Films - Music Videos. Online entry form at Visit to view excellence-in-filmmaking winners and their career-changing comments on winning Action/Cut.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Famous Short Film Festival Coming to NC

The 28th Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival is coming to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The Clermont-Ferrand is second only to Cannes as a film festival in France. Last year it drew 135,000 spectators.

The festival offers a generous variety of genres and perspectives in part one of a two-part series.

On February 9th, the 90-minute program includes some of the very best shorts from such countries as Argentina, Belgium, Israel and Norway, and presents a festival mixing film and digital medium. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Dan Brawley, director of the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, NC.

Next week on Feb.16 they offer a program of French short films.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sundance Short Film Winners

"Bugcrush," directed by Carter Smith, won the jury prize in the 2006 short film program.

"Bugcrush" is a creepy little short about two high school loners, one of whom turns out to be much weirder than the other suspected. It's done in 16mm and on my small screen looks good enough for any big screen. The acting and technique are impeccable and the story engaging. I do so wish to see short films with more satisfying endings, though.

The winnerand the two runners up, "Before Dawn," and "Preacher With an Unknown God," demonstrate sophisticated filmmaking technique. It's difficult to believe that "Preacher" was shot on DV, but it was. "Preacher," is quite literally dazzling at times with its evangelical congregations, interspersed bus-window travelogs, its continually moving camera, sharp cutting, low angles, and tracking shots, its ribbons of color and character whipping continually by, all their own hypnotic attraction. Rob VanAlkemade directed. Although VanAlkemade has been a cinematographer, sound recordist, producer, director and editor on a number of projects, his credits do not appear to include music videos or commercials. His techique has a bit of that quickcut feel, that razzamatazz of images. I like it myself, but if you don't, you won't like "Preacher."

"Before Dawn" is the most subtle and sedate of the three, but has it's own simple charm that reminds a little of Kielslowski because of its stark, nearly colorless pre-dawn gray-blue landscape. Early on, there's a lovely film moment when the people come out of the fields to get on the truck.

None of these folks have publicity photos up at the Sundance press site, or Web sites with publicity material. We'd be happy to provide budget sites or more elaborate ones to film makers who find themselves headed to major festivals or those actively promoting their work.

We would ask independent reviewers to comment on client work in the future on this or other sites of ours, but we do provide professional copywriting along with our site development.

If interested, send us an email: