November 3, 2010

Review: Short Films Don’t Suck.

My evening at Lunafest.

In the United States the genre of short films often times gets looked over, even snarled at by mainstream movie-goers. But why? We’re a culture who loves things cheap and fast, a culture taken over by youtube and video streaming.

photo courtesy Piero Fissore

But for some reason the short film still hasn’t hit most of our radars.

Yet, when done right, the short film genre can be transformative.

Take Lunafest for example.

A night of films, for, by, and about women already on it’s tenth year.

These films know how to tell a story, they’re sharp, witty, and beautifully shot.

Ten were selected for our viewing pleasure, ten out of over 400 applicants; the best of the best.

Probably the greatest thing about watching ten short films instead of one regular length movie is the diversity and the underlying ability for all of them, in their own way, to possess different elements of inspiration. For example, the films Getting a Grip and Top Spin highlight individual women’s determination to succeed.

Getting a Grip centers on the first female cable car operator who began this line of work in 1998 at the age of 52; it’s a story that shows if you want something bad enough, if you try hard and actually work for it, you can achieve your goals. Which was also highlighted in Top Spin a film about table tennis and a young woman’s motivation and dedication to win. People who are focused and almost obsessive about particular things are always fascinating to watch and learn from.

Another element of Lunafest inspiration comes from the theme of exerting independence in loving relationships, which is seen in both The Translator and Miracle Lady. The Translator starts out the night of films, which is a good choice as it is full of wit and is easily relatable, as the main woman character comes to not only “translate” others but her own life as well. Miracle Lady on the other hand, didn’t start off so well for me as I felt the main woman character to be depressing and sad as she was so stuck on her man, but luckily it has a redeeming ending.

All of the films are wonderful in their own way, but I think the best one from this year’s series is Touch. It shows the beauty in basic human connection. It shows what can happen when we choose kindness over selfishness. It reveals compassion realistically, with bouts of humor and seriousness interweaved throughout.

Overall Lunafest was an amazing experience that I would definitely recommend. My main critique stems from a general observation as opposed to the films themselves. I know that these films are for, by, and about women and that’s great, women need this space considering the fact that the film industry is dominated by the masculine (which Lunafest itself has to learn to adjust as their credits listed a heavy number of male crew, considering).

So what would it take to make the movie industry more balanced—not just gender wise, but race, class, age, sex, etc.?  What would it take to incorporate all sorts of different types of films into the mainstream? Not just mind-numbing “blockbusters” but short films, art films, films that cross major boundaries of everyday thought processes, films that push viewers instead of being pure passive entertainment.

Lunafest and events like it are a good place to start. The more we support these types of nights the more nights like these we can get. I definitely want more.

For information on Lunafest.

Playing in a city near you soon:

Check out the calendar to find places and times.

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Krystal Baugher  |  Contribution: 5,310