Directed by Maria Luisa Santos
This short begins with a sense of immediacy as live-in housekeeper Teresa discovers she is pregnant. We learn the father isn’t in the picture and that Ter spends her days caring for the young daughter of her employers. She truly loves this girl and manages to hold back her anxieties about the next steps of her life, until the finale. Good but a little slow for a short film, wish I knew more about Teresa.
Directed by Matt Sherwood
In the wake of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, a young surfer encounters something sinister living on the corpse of a cow floating in the ocean. Things get gory and intense after she emerges from the water. It’s a great eco-horror premise that ultimately gets lost in the director going for something a little more poetic. I think if this had been a feature film that ending would have worked better. As a short film, it just feels like it lost the plot.
Talk Outside ***
Directed by Austin Davidson
A disagreement between two men in a bar leads to one of them demanding to “talk outside.” Thus begins their journey across the Texas landscape, getting to know each other, as they search for the right location to settle things. This short starts out as something that could be another joke set-up with a punchline, but instead takes an interesting turn and becomes another thing entirely.
Zoe and Hanh ****
Directed by Kim Tran
A young Vietnamese-American woman has escaped her visiting mother to enjoy an afternoon tryst with her boyfriend, the same boyfriend she is keeping secret from her mother. This dalliance is upset when the mother, having used the Find My Phone feature, tracks down her daughter and everything unravels from there. This is a wonderful balance of comedy and interpersonal drama. This is all about the performances and implied dynamics of the relationships between the three characters. So much is said in this short film that it made we want a feature film to learn more about Zoe and her life.
The Paint Wizzard ****
Directed by Jessie Auritt & Jessica Wolfson
Millie is a house painter and is known for her style of dress with signature cat ears. She was raised male in a conservative Mormon household and shares bits of her life that led to a coming-out moment at age 58. Millie allows herself to be called “transgender” but admits discomfort with labels and terms, putting her more as gender non-conforming. There’s a lot of joy in this short film and Millie showcases an enduring spirit that accepts life as a struggle but refuses to succumb to it.
A Bold Experiment ****
Directed by Alexander Milan & Andrew Miller
David J. Bamberger, the founder of Church’s Chicken, became a bat enthusiast in the 1990s and went on to build the first man-made bat cave. This documentary interviews him a bit and shows off his thousands of bats. The odds were against him and even he thought the bats would never come until one day they were suddenly there. This needed to be a feature because there is so much more to explore and unpack about ecology and this particular person.
Coup d’etat Math ****
Directed by Sai Selvarajan
The specifics are obscured to force the viewer to focus on the people and their stories. We hear stories and see interpretive animation about people in compromised positions due to instability in their countries. One woman tells about a curfew posed so strictly that her father had to sneak her mother to the hospital in the dead of night during labor, knowing if they were caught they would be killed on site no questions asked. There is so much here and this feels like the seed of a larger project.
Just Hold On *****
Directed by Sam Davis & Rayka Zehtbchi
I did not know about “mutton bustin’”, the art of riding sheep by children until this short. Mattie McDonald, a seven-year-old cancer survivor is the star of this short which examines her breakout as a mutton bustin’ champion. She is such a sweet personality, talking non-stop about her life plans and how she learned to ride the sheep. Just a great short picture.