Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Short Films at the Peace River Film Festival

How often do you see a movie that stays with you longer than the time it takes to walk to the parking lot after the end of the show?   I'm betting that your answer, like mine, is "not very often."  If it's hard for a feature length, high budget movie to make a lasting impact, what are the chances that a "short" film can do so in a compacted period of time?  (If you're shaking your head at me right now, you've obviously had the pleasure of seeing more short films than I have.)  So it's much to my surprise that I find my thoughts returning to two very different short films that I saw over the week-end at the Peace River Film Festival.

The first was "World of Art" by Mike Allore.  When the film opens, we are introduced to an artist (Arthur) in his studio who is suffering from the equivalent of writer's block.  He just can't seem to find any inspiration.  Arthur goes to a local pub for a drink and is surprised when the owner tells him that he had heard that he was dead.  Arthur was greatly confused, needless to say.  The owner leads him outside to find graffiti written on the sidewalk that declares, "Art is dead."   The film takes off from there, as we figure out that the "establishment" is trying to get rid of art (with a lower case "a") by getting rid of Art (with a capital "A").  Art finds himself locked in jail with other living pieces of art as his cellmates.  Among others, we find the Mona Lisa and the farmer and his wife from American Gothic and Whistler's mother and the guy with the apple featured in Magritte's Son of Man.  The prisoners urge Art to save them and prove that art cannot be confined.  The film was charming and funny and thoroughly enjoyable.  (And, yes, Art does find his inspiration at the end of the day.)   If your curiosity is piqued, you can take a peek at the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30Kmajg7EL8.

The other film that I keep thinking about was "Tuesday.  Life Goes On" by Nicole Allyn Rogers and David Shark.  It was described in the program as "a quietly provocative glimpse into an ordinary day in the life of a young couple as they reunite after being separated by war."   The film opens with a woman stepping in front of a car as she crosses the street.  The boxed cake that she's carrying tumbles to the ground, and the car screeches away.   We next see the woman at home putting up a big "Welcome Home" sign across the front porch.  A soldier approaches and the two start to get reacquainted, heading into the kitchen for some slightly worse-for-wear cake.

Cut to two soldiers in a car who are obviously on their way to make a death notification.  As they approach the home of the deceased soldier, they see a body bag being loaded onto an ambulance about a block away.  When they reach the front door, they knock and ring the bell but nobody answers.  As time passes we realize that the young couple has been reunited, but not in this world.   It was an incredibly powerful and haunting film, and I'm quite sure that my description does not do it justice.

If these films sound interesting, don't miss "Beyond the Film Fest" at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda.   On the third Wednesday of each month, the VAC will offer movie buffs the chance to screen some short films, some of which were shown at the Peace River Film Festival.   Given the quality of shorts that were shown at the Festival, I am eager to see more.   Don't forget the popcorn!

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