Director: Deirdre Beck
This very short film gives us a glimpse into the lives of a couple. We observe them leave their home, get in their car, and drive to a railroad crossing. As the train speeds past, they witness what appears to be them (many different versions of themselves at that!) dancing and traveling and enjoying adventures that they haven’t actually taken. Accordingly, the film itself is achingly astute in the best way possible. Plus, the animation is so well done. The silhouette-style black and white aesthetic is perfect for the story being told here.
Director: Melissa Ferrari
“If you ever saw it, you’d be a believer.”
This short takes place in West Virginia. It blends together mothman lore with narcotics addiction in its look at belief, superstition, and perspective. This collage-style film not only blends together different narratives but also different mediums: from chalk-style drawings to classic realistic paintings to needlepoint to local signs. The overlay of people sharing their experiences and news reports is compelling. Overall, it’s a stunner that is equal parts thought-provoking and disquieting.
THE SPIRIT SEAM
Director: Ashley Gerst
Set in a 1950s Appalachian coal-mining town, this short has an endearing folksy-historical bent. By taking time to focus on seemingly small parts of the day (e.g. breakfast), the film really highlights heritage, tradition, and local culture in a unique way. I particularly enjoyed the way that the maps and the scenery were animated — especially when the young girl is chasing fireflies in the front yard. I also appreciated the way that this film did not simply rely on nostalgia and also pointed out the health hardships associated with this lifestyle. And of course, the folk music is awesome!
Director: John Paul Grigsby
This is an interesting short, as it’s more like a music video. The film focuses on a pipe-smoking, cowboy-hat wearing god-like figure who is reflecting on humanity. From the land to the sea, the figure looks at his globe-like device and considers various events that are unfolding. The music has an Irish folksy vibe to it and pairs well with the short, though I am not sure that it should be called an animated short film as it is clearly a music video.
Director: Jennifer Linton
Oh do I love a good cabinet of curiosities. And that’s precisely what this film focuses on. Madeline has quite the collection herself, and as we see her interacting with various pieces, we become both delighted and disturbed. On the one hand I am repulsed, but on the other hand I want to know more about her (which in my book makes it a winning story!). The animation in this film resembles colored pencil sketches brought to life. This allows it to maintain the air of clean, classic art — even though a disembodied head is performing sexual acts.
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.