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.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Throw Impresses Charlotte Film Fest Audience

That's James Drew, who co-wrote and co-produced the fine short film directed by Rick Fisher called "Throw." We caught both Drew and his movie at the very first Charlotte (North Carolina) Film Festival earlier this year. Photo by Renee Wright (copyright, Renee Wright, 2006)

We attend a lot of film festivals, especially in North Carolina and the Southeast U.S., our own territory. We seldom agree with the various "best of" picks at these festivals, particularly the short film winners. The judges' choices often remind us of Academy Award choices--oriented toward meaningful message films, not infrequently with a pseudo-artistic bent.

At the recent Charlotte, North Carolina film festival, we found the judges' choice of the short film "Lucas" a travesty. Watching this self-indulgent and weakly scripted piece with its lingering mirror shots of its mentally and physically challenged hero (anti-hero?) we tittered at its need to fill its already minimal screen time due to lack of real script. It had its moments, funny, tragic, and briefly interesting, but it didn't hold a patch to the short we found most moving and effective: "Throw."

We love real art when we encounter it. Real art is not the sort of pretentious BS of "Lukas," it's built on real experiences about real relationships such as those in "Throw." It also had the virtues of strong, moving performances from Michael Hardy, Robbie Lutfy, Catherine Smith, Cody Harding, and Steven Handy and of solid film-making. This isn't a film school calling-card, this movie stands on its own.

"Throw," which is based partly on the real experiences of the filmmakers, presents an admirably concise and dramatically powerful look at the choices artists must make between their love for creating and their need to pay rent and buy a new stove. In this case, the artist is a potter with a father who is more interested in seeing his son learn to paint a room than make a carefully crafted piece of pottery.

Or so it seems. The short film leads to a dramatic climax that is perfect in its revelation of the full meaning of what went before--although we are given strong forshadowing hints of it--and leaves the audience with a visercal understanding of what it all meant.

Drew says the father-son relationships of the film-makers played a role in shaping "Throw."

Many short film makers could learn more than a little about structure from "Throw."

In dramatic completeness at a short length, it reminds us of the work of Danica McKellar, the actress who portrayed Winnie Cooper in the TV show "Wonder Years," among many other roles on shows such as "The West Wing." McKellar appeared at the Riverun Film Festival at the N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem earlier this year, where we saw her short film "Broken." Like "Throw," it manages complete, powerful and effective story-telling in minutes. Very impressive and up for one of our First Short Film Review Awards this year. That's Danica on the left in a photo by Allan Maurer shot at the Riverrun Festival. (Copyright, 2006, Allan Maurer).

"Throw" is also on the nominated list in several categories. If you get a chance to see it or McKellar's short films, do so.


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