SXSW Short Film Festival @ Home – Documentaries Part 2

Quilt Fever ***
Directed by Olivia Loomis Merrion

Here’s something I never knew, Paducah is like the quilt capital of America. The short doc Quilt Fever feels like the seed of a feature-length documentary following women who have taken the annual pilgrimage to the quilt show in said town. We get just the smallest hint of these women’s backgrounds but never the depth I would have liked. This is also a case of a documentary built in post-production. Merrion went out and shot as much footage and interviews as she could and assembled a narrative in editing. This is a very conventional doc, nothing is challenging about the structure. It’s all about the subjects being interviewed and their own natural sweetness and charm.

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SXSW Short Film Festival @ Home – Documentaries Part 1

SXSW (or South by Southwest) is an annual gathering of film, music, interactive media, and other creative fields that has been going on since 1986. Because of COVID-19’s spread, this year’s SXSW gathering has been canceled. But one way the organizers are bringing the festival to our homes is through MailChimp hosting over fifty of the short films that were to be screened there. I will be spending April watching and reviewing every short film by category. Our first two screenings will be devoted to documentary shorts.

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Short Film Showcase 2020 – #1

We’re starting off the short film showcase this year with a trio of fantastic animated films.

The Hill Farm (1986, directed by Mark Baker)
Mark Baker is the creator of Peppa Pig, but before that he made some fantastic animated shorts that played at festivals. This one tells of a few days in the life of a farmer and the visitors who come to their farm.

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Short Film Showcase Christmas Special 2019

Here is a over-sized serving of Christmas-themed short films from Disney to Wes Anderson. Enjoy!

The Snowman (1982, directed by Dianne Jackson)

This classic animated special features gorgeous animation, a wordless story, and haunting music. It’s a British favorite and one that always adds some magic to the holiday season.

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Short Film Showcase #7

Detour (2017)
Written & Directed by Michel Gondry

There is nothing wholly unique about this short compared to Gondry’s other work, its another foray into whimsy and visually comedy. A little girl and her family go on vacation to the countryside. Her favorite tricycle falls off the back of the van and begins an odyssey to return to the child. Gondry plays with expectations and perspectives in little bits here & there, resulting in a heartwarming story. This feels very much like a Pixar-style tale, in particular, the Toy Story films.

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Short Film Showcase Halloween Special

For this night of spooks & scares, here are some horrific short films to help set the mood.

The Maiden (2016)
Written & Directed by Michael Chaves

Lots of this short reminds me of American Horror Story: Murder House, one of the best seasons of that series. We have a house that contains a ghostly woman whose spirit is attached to a necklace. The ghostly woman also seems to use the jewelry as a sort of lure. Our protagonist is a real estate agent learning about her new property and trying her best to hide its dark secrets, so she can secure a buyer.

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Short Film Showcase #6

Please, Kill Mr. Kinski (1999)
Written & Directed by David Schmoeller

In 1986, director David Schmoeller worked with notorious actor Klaus Kinski on the set of his film Crawlspace. As expected, Kinski was a nightmare to direct and continuously tried to find ways to throw a wrench in the production. It became especially terrible when Kinksi learned that Schmoeller went to the producers to get the actor thrown off the picture. This is a short essay film, a docu-comedy, sort of like a story Kevin Smith tells in his live shows. I haven’t seen Herzog’s My Best Fiend yet, but I suspect it covers the same territory with more depth.

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Short Film Showcase #5

Two Dollar Bill (2016)
Written & Directed by Hannah Marks

Hannah Marks was born into the industry, the daughter of actors, granddaughter to a musician. She made her debut in 2006’s Accepted, a middling Justin Long vehicle. Along the way, she became interested in directing and has jumped into the deep end. After a series of successfully received shorts, she’s made a feature film with another in the pipeline.

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Short Film Showcase #4

Little Deaths (1996)
Written & Directed by Lynne Ramsay

I need to explore the early work of Lynne Ramsay. She’s made two of my favorite films of the 2010s, We Need To Talk About Kevin & You Were Never Really Here. Small Deaths was her debut short after graduating from the U.K.‘s National Film and Television School. The film is composed of three vignettes centered around an unnamed girl growing into adolescence and early adulthood.

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