[NORTH BEND FILM FESTIVAL] ‘CINEMA VISTAS’ SHORTS PROGRAM

GRAND BOUQUET
Directed & Written by Nao Yoshigai
Starring: Hanna Chan

A woman and a spiral “black object” confront each other. As the “black object” confronts her more and more, it pushes her back. The girl is unable to speak. She proceeds to get knocked down over and over until she faces it. Grand Bouquet is trippy and unbelievably cool. It’s the right type of sci-fi that keeps you guessing for days in what the true meaning of it can be. The visuals themselves are worth the watch alone. One of the things I loved about this short is the visual of her throwing up the flowers instead of speaking. The entire short was centered around this woman finding her voice and letting it breathe and blossom. Grand Bouquet was a stunning representation of that, with the addition of insanely cool visuals.


SELFIES
Directed and written by Claudius Gentinetta
Animation by: Claudius Gentinetta, Cécile Brun and Arzu Saglam

Selfies are a thing in our everyday lives. With Claudius Gentinetta’s animated short, they take us on a journey into the highs and lows, the good and bad of some very intimate moments from the front face camera. I adored Selfies as it went along. The idea is simple enough that you can play around with anything, but the fact that Claudius Gentinetta used selfies as the point of view is something special. Selfies have always come with their highs and lows, and Gentinetta pushes every single narrative a selfie can give and what we do with our selfies. The sexting, the bathroom selfie, the pregnancy selfie, the birthing, the surgery, the world news, the celebrity selfie, they’re all captured in this three-minute animation that fluxes so naturally.


CHAOS
Directed and Written by Samuel Auer

From the description: “What are one jogger, one hobo, and two pigs doing in a forest? CHAOS is a story about greed and time. It’s a deconstruction of known genres and form.

I honestly don’t know what to say about this short, but holy shit. I loved it. It has all the things needed to break that form of storytelling. Auer puts himself in an impossible position with three things: 1) Telling a story about the devil and making it appealing 2) Shooting this entire thing backward 3) Making this as short as it is. However, he nails every single thing about this and ends up telling such an enriching fairytale in under four minutes.

The entire short is just what the name implied. It’s CHAOS! Even at the end, you’re trying to wrap your head around what you just saw. I wish this short was longer, because I would watch an entire Irreversible-like plot of this in a heartbeat, BUT I’m happy it’s the length that it is because it was so much more affecting in that way.


THE FOLLOWER
Directed & Written by Stephanie Szerlip
Starring: Logan Polish and Jack Kilmer

“Name is Jimmy … Flowers. Said I was on my way. Now here I am.” 

Review is taken from previous coverage in [Cinepocalypse] Shorts Block: Shadows Within – Part 2.

Two strangers visit a vain and self-absorbed teenage girl obsessed with her social media presence. Both of them are charming as they are frightening.

Going into The Follower, I thought I recognized the vibe of it right away. If anyone is familiar with the movie Smooth Talk, the basis for both this and that movie is the short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates. The one thing that bothered me about the story and adaptation was the tension between the characters. The teenage girl is alone and vulnerable, and the strangers have the upper hand. It’s a stalker tale and a home invasion at the same time, which is a nightmare of a scenario.

That’s what makes this short unsettling and highly uncomfortable. Stephanie Szerlip GETS why that tension between the characters makes you feel gross inside and uses it to her advantage to tell her particular adaptation, and it works. The Follower is way scarier because of the social media age now. The age of anyone knowing who you are and what you’re doing. The narrative is smooth and frighteningly builds that tension, making it so heavy that you don’t notice you’re holding your breath until the credits roll.

This is one film I’d love to see a full movie of. The Follower is stylized take on a classic predator story that knocks the wind out of your sails and makes you want to delete your social media forever.


DAUGHTER OF BABEL
Directed by Ashlea Wessel
Starring: Ashleigh Morrison and Paul Saunders

A young girl waits on the rooftop for the end of the world. From first seeing Daughter of Babel, I wasn’t sure what to think about it at first. However, coming back to it and watching it once again, I loved every bit of it. It has all the elements of being this straight-forward film about a girl waiting on a rooftop, but I think what makes this entire short effective is the visuals mixed with the noises.

I had the privilege of watching this short remotely from the festival. I had on headphones and I DROWNED in the noises. The flies buzzing around the mic and the sights and sounds of the what’s happening from the tower made me feel so closed in and anxious the entire way through. When you hear the mom’s voice read the letter in the short, it’s the only thing that really gets through. When she’s by herself, it felt peaceful and calm for the first time. I felt like I could even breathe peacefully then. Daughter of Babel is an example of an auditory masterpiece, but it’s also a piece of great storytelling.


SOMETIMES, I THINK ABOUT DYING
Directed by: Stefanie Abel Horowitz
Written by: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, and Kevin Armento
Starring: Katy Wright-Mead and Jim Sarbh
Based on the play killers by Keven Armento

“I lie in my bed. Myself, is in a bed, in a room in a house. And sometimes, I think about dying.”

Fran thinks about dying daily and finds it hard to express it. She meets Robert, who slowly gets her to open up until she’s finally comfortable to tell the one thing she’s been thinking about her entire life. This was beyond sweet. It was sweet in such an unexpecting and realistic way that I’ve never seen done before. I related to Fran on a peculiar level that makes sense to me. Fran is introverted and carries intrusive thoughts inside her head. She’s not scared of emotional intimacy, but she’s never had it, so everything feels so fresh and new and scary. The entire short got me because of the ending. She was finally comfortable enough to tell Robert what she constantly thinks about. It’s such a sweet and relatable short.


NYMPHS
Directed & Written by Isabella Torre

A man and his crew go to the woods to dig up something from legend but instead unleash something upon the world that will kill them all. Nymphs are some of my all-time favorite mythology figures for two reasons. One is because I love the forest and woods and everything about it, and two is because they’re really interesting deities. They’re one of the creatures that can be one of the most powerful creatures on the planet, if the perfect writer can portray them as such. That’s what incredible about Nymph.

Nymph has the folklore quality to it that is not only haunting but otherworldly. It gives you an introduction to the world of a nymph but also doesn’t labor on it. It tells you how powerful she is in a short time, but leaves you wanting to see what she does next. Nymph feels like a film that could run longer, which I’d love to see. I’m interested in this nymph and her story. I’m interested in why this guy wanted to go after these pieces. It creates for more questions that makes me want it to be in it longer so badly.


THE BOOGEYWOMAN
Directed & Written by Erica Scoggins 
Starring: Amélie Hoeferle, John Henry Ward, Raquel Ascension, Grace Turner, Nathan Ford Jr., Keenan Carter, Ella Starr, Betty Lowe McNish, Katherine Morgan

Every time the power goes out in Bradley, it’s because The Boogeywoman took another man’s soul.

When Sam gets her period during a night out with friends, she takes the unexpected turn into a creature that she didn’t plan to be. I would watch a whole movie of this in a fucking heartbeat. This short was not only effective as a coming of age story, but it leaves you kinda guessing how this girl is going to get through this entire thing. Sam has just taken her first steps into becoming the next Boogeywoman. I WANT TO SEE HER FULL FORCE.

On the topic of coming of age, Erica Scoggins does a spectacular job in this short of introducing the main player, plus having some events surround them that lead Sam on her journey. She keeps the focus at all times on Sam and HER vision and line of sight. You’re just as in the dark as her with what’s happening, and you need that to see what her next moves are. Overall, this short is something that is begging to be a feature film. I also want to know if that one friend got blown to smithereens (PLEASE LET HER).

 

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