JWR Articles: Film/DVD - ShortFest Closing Night (Directors: Frank Meli, Frank Mosvold, Bexie Bush, Giacomo Cimini, Mark Davenport) - July 2, 2014

ShortFest Closing Night

4.5 4.5

Reviewed for the 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest
Closing night awards and one for the road

The Camelot Theater was filled to near-capacity as this year’s festival concluded with the awards ceremony and selected screenings. Films from 37 countries were eligible for the various categories. With about one-third of the audience being filmmakers, the excitement in the room was palpable.

At the post-awards reception still another link was promised then provided to a film, One in Five, whose subject matter has been written about many times in these pages.

Charles takes stage

Frank Meli
2014, 25 min.
Best Live Action Short
Runner-up: Young Americans (cross-reference below)

Stoking the inner-self to come out

With Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the backdrop (and many gay vampires wandering these pages—cross-reference below), it is hard not to delight in Meli’s feel-good coming-of-age, ignored-boy-turns-drag-queen story. Playing the insecure Charles, August Roads is totally convincing as he discovers the delight of push-up bras and full makeup along the journey to living the line, “Find your way home.”

The supporting cast, stereotypical—but in a nice way—as they are (kudos to his Avon selling mom) go about their supportive tasks with energy and skill. Yet it falls to Dragula him/herself to steal the show and the runway: Barry Bostwick is simply superb. JWR

Production photo

Bendik & the Monster
Frank Mosvold
2013, 10 min.
Best Animation Short

Following your heart and living the dream

Here’s a classic story of how looks can be deceiving. Imagine a monster who is just a wanabe crooner in disguise; imagine a young boy getting in touch with his inner glam (aided and abetted by his green-skinned makeup artist) then fearlessly going down the ramp of Drag Queen glory!

Literally, the boxing gloves come off as the high-gloss lipstick goes on, causing a bit of tension between Bendik, his mom and her boyfriend. The voices all delight—especially Anders Baasmo Christiansen’s velvet tones as the Monster. JWR

Mend and Make Do
Bexie Bush
2014, 8 min.
Best Student Animation

Accepting life as it comes

Bush and writer Stefan Kaday have a bright future indeed if this level of accomplishment becomes their baseline from which to grow. From making a frock out of curtains (and largely told from the point of view of a dressmaker’s dummy—which long-in the-tooth Lyn certainly isn’t) through recalling loves found and lost, these few minutes will remind one and all to live life to the fullest, but also learn to take it as it comes. JWR

The Nostalgist
Giacomo Cimini
2014, 17 min.
Best Live Action Over 15 Minutes, Second place

“It’s not safe out there”

Mixing together an epoch-defining—Beethoven’s Emperor: “Adagio un poco mosso”—concerto, the intellectual art of chess, and a young boy’s (Samuel Joslin is the picture of innocence) teddy bear with CGI creatures and writer Daniel H. Wilson’s science fiction acumen depicting Vanille, paradise found soon threatens to become Paradise Lost.

Lambert Wilson gives a gritty, sensitive performance as The Man, struggling to keep his personal aesthetic alive and well at all costs. More, please. JWR

Production photo

One in Five
Mark Davenport
2014, 17 min.
Five stars

The paralysis of fear

If this first effort from Indictus (Latin: untold, unseen unheard) is the baseline for future productions, then difficult issues that are problematic to talk about much less bring to a wide audience will be blessed with a cinematic champion that understands the very fine balance/mix of shocking/teaching/informing audiences when—too often—we’d rather just look away.

The film’s narrative is simplicity itself: after a marvellous aerial shot following a postman (David Crellin’s visage speaks volumes) making the rounds of a middle class neighborhood, the delivery of a package changes two lives forever.

At the centre of it all is Andrew (Rob Hardman displays an incredible range of emotion and courageously cowers throughout the onslaught of physical and psychological abuse). Just wanting to be a lad and—after a recent spouse-driven move isolates him from his buddies—chatting up a pet hamster for company, he proves to be no match at all for his truly pathetic wife, Lucy (it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Georgia Taylor still has a few sleepless nights, such was the degree of believability in her venomous mouth and rain of—thankfully—largely unseen blows on a husband who will never prove to be good enough in her vacant eyes).

Those unaware as to the film’s content will want to not believe what they see as the welts increase, hoping vehemently that the deeply felt “I’m sorry” scene will be sincere. For others, a sudden flashback to a reclusive friend, relative or neighbour may finally make terrifying sense.

Curiously, the closely-mic’d piano in Ólafur Arnolds’ sympathetic score seems at one with the very personal, if ugly, intimacy that unfolds. JWR

Your comments are always welcome at JWR.

Click here to have your say (please mention the headline for the article):Feedback to JWR.

Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Palm Springs International Film Festival Palm Springs International ShortFest
Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
for related work: