[REVIEW] BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL – ANIMATED SHORTS PT. 1

FOR A BETTER LIFE

Director: Yasmin Mistry
“Now I’m in a cold world. All alone.”

This short tells the story of Fekri: a kid in Tunisia who was sold for $100. It has the feel of a graphic novel brought to life with a slam poetry vibe. It is a tough film to watch in terms of the content, but it is undoubtedly an important film about kids who get lost in the system. As Fekri finds healing when he makes it to a group home in New York, his strength and ability to endure is affecting.


HARLS

Director: Kenzie Sutton
“Hi. My name is Harls…I’ve been reincarnated 356 times.”

Harls has been reincarnated a ridiculous number of times. Thank goodness he has a Reincarnated Support Group. This is a very short film, but it is entirely enjoyable from start to finish. We witness Harls go through multiple reincarnations as he has a series of unfortunate accidents. Imagine transitioning from a kangaroo to a frog in a matter of seconds. But Harls adapts. This is an optimistic short that is immensely relatable to anyone feeling a little out of their element, and the felt-style animation is adorable.


LILLY GOES FISHING

Director: The Bum Family
“It’s the leeches!”

Lilly, a giant orange monster, and her little buddy Fluffo go on a camping adventure. This is an odd film. I’m sure there’s a lot going on below the surface, but it’s hard to decipher what exactly that is. There are typical camping shenanigans — like fishing and swimming and cabin living — along with budding romances and a series of do’s and don’ts. However, I’m not sure what the take away is. Nevertheless, the animation is unique, like a series of kids drawings brought to life.


MAINTAIN YOURSELF

Director: Elena LaCourt
No dialogue.

This short details a daily grooming routine, and it is fantastic. It opens with a whole display of vials containing pills and makeup, as well as razors and scissors and cotton. We witness the process of shaving and deodorizing to getting one’s hair cut and eyebrows waxed — in addition to the application of makeup and the taking of numerous pills. It is creepy but 100x more so simply because it’s reality. The animation is brilliant, and the simple sound effects of the clinking bottles and the scratchy applications are oddly satisfying.


MORPHOSIS

Director: Santiago Castaño
“Its effects last a short time, but it changed our lives.”

This short involves a fruit called magic mirror, which, when eaten, allows the consumer to turn into whatever they look at for a brief time. When the fruit is discovered, it permits a group of enslaved frogs to overthrow their masters. This film was a little heavy-handed with its message for my taste — the message being that appearance does not denote worth. However, it’s always an important message, and the animation has a colorful Latin-inspired flair with just the right amount of whimsy.


MOTHER’S PEAK

Director: Simon Allen
“You don’t still see that woman around here…do you?”

Set in Pennsylvania, this animated short tells the story of a ghost named Edna that currently haunts her former home, which is now occupied. The current occupant Bee Grady, an artist, shares local lore with her brother. As they go about their days, sharing meals and wine, watching television, and earning their living, the ghost of Edna flits in an out.  This film is equal parts charming and haunting. The relationship between Bee Grady and her brother is effortless, but Edna’s continual and unexpected presence causes some major tension. The music, animation, and script in this short are top notch. I found myself thinking about this film long after it was over.


The 21st annual Boston Underground Film Festival ran from March 20th to March 24th. To find out more about the festival and to be sure you get your tickets for next year, check out their website.