Thursday, December 10, 2015

AIFF 2015: Shorts - Jury Selection - Wow, Good Show

The program just ended.   All of them were definitely worth watching.  Some were excellent.  I'm sitting in the theater during the break until Magic Utopia.  So let me just ramble and see which ones I remember.

The Story of a Rainy Night - was amazing and so sad.  A man in his Iranian apartment (more people should see Iranian films and see how well many Iranians live) on a rainy night.  He feeds a cat we never see.  Then there's a knock on the door and a daughter arrives with kids and husband.  The old man acts surprised she came.  Two more kids arrive, there's lots of commotion.  Someone brought a birthday cake.  There's talk about not seeing the kids very often.  They also brought some pizza.  We see the man from the back of the head mostly.  Sometimes from the left side, sometimes from the right, but never fully from the front.  Until near the end the camera comes around and examines him fully and closely and the audience realizes that all the visitors were an illusion.  He's been home alone on his birthday.  He lets the cat out.   When all the kids were there the subtitles were flying and it was hard to read and a linguistically talented friend said it wasn't Farsi, maybe Iranian Azerbaijani.

Nkosi Coiffure - Terrific.  Belgian lady and her boyfriend are fighting on the street and she slips in a door to escape him.  She's in an African hair salon.  One of the ladies goes outside to talk to the boyfriend and the others talk to the lady.  Wonderful film.

The Bravest/The Boldest - This one's been on the circuit a long time, but I understand why.  Two military chaplains go to tell a woman her husband's been killed.  She's in the elevator coming up from the laundry room when they get in.  She senses they're there for her.  When they get to her floor, they let her go out first, but she says not her floor and pushes another button.  The rest of the movie she avoids them as she deals with her grief.  Excellent film.

Zawadi - A Kenyan girl is sick so her mom has to stay home to watch her, so Mom tells her son he has to collect twice as many bottles today to make up for her staying home.  And the neighbor girl is upset because it's her birthday and her mom doesn't remember.  Beautifully done.

The Call - A pregnant South African prostitute, the taxi driver who's the father, a cell phone left in the cab, and a funeral.  Terrific acting.

Mike - A young man drops his brother off at the barber shop and waits in the car for him to come back.  He finally goes in to check and the receptionist says there haven't been any little boys.  Also good, but not quite at the level of the others for me.

Merry Xtmas -  This one stood out because it starred Dick Van Dyke, Valery Harper, and Matthew Modine, was full Hollywood production levels, and was short, sweet, and funny.  And a good ending to a set that started with a man waiting for his kids to come for his birthday.  It somehow seems like it shouldn't be in the mix with these other, more budding filmmakers.  But it was great.

OK, I've gone back and I missed three, but that's not a reflection on the films.  One of them - The One Minute Time Machine - was one of my favorites.   I'll talk about

[UPDATE 11:44pm - the new film was starting and I had to shut down my computer and I wasn't even sure this got posted.

One Minute Time Machine - was a romantic physics sci-fi short, with good imagination and characters.  Very clever and well executed.

The other one I forgot was Unleaded about and armed robbery that went wrong, at least from the robbers' perspective.  It was well done, fun, but again, like Mike,  not quite there with the others.

Picking the best will be hard.  For me, just based on the one I enjoyed the most, it would be One Minute Time Machine.  But I also really liked Nkosi Coiffure. plus The Bravest/The Boldest had great acting and a good twist.   And I know I'm going to see that cab driver's face from The Call in my head many times in the next week or two.

Congratulations to those who put this whole package together.  All the films were worthy, and, as I said, starting with the imaginary birthday dinner and ending with the manipulated Christmas dinner was a great touch.


  1. I too saw the Shorts last night and loved many of them. Their variety and diversity of origins added to the pleasure. I agree with you that "Mike" was a cut below the others. "Merry Xmas" was a good, clever joke but lacked the depth of some of the others. "Bravest, Boldest" was exceptional — the actor who played the mother continues to haunt me with the pain she put across. "Unleaded" was fine but, you're right, not of the depth of some of the others, including "The Call," which was quite sad. "One-Minute Time Machine" was a total delight. But I have seen it before (or at least, I think I have), but don't remember where. It never played AIFF before, correct? ... A strong element in "Nkosi Coiffure" was that the white woman more or less declares her freedom from the boyfriend at the end (and wow! that's one expensive hair treatment). Thanks for going so heavily into these movies, with your attention to them and your reports on them. Much appreciated, Steve.

  2. Thanks!
    Someone told me that the One Minute Time Machine was in the Manhattan Shorts program, so maybe you saw it there.


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