By their very nature, film shorts allow creators to establish a vision, draw viewers in and shock, amuse or enchant — all within a matter of minutes. And that's perfectly illustrated by this year's St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase: Shorts 1 and 2. A combined seventeen shorts take audiences through the seriously hilarious to the seriously scary in under three hours.
The first set, showing at 7 p.m. November 15, is largely comprised of light, humorous fare, complete with spoofs of action heroes ("The Adventures of Johnny Jett Part 8") buddy-cop movies ("Campus Cops") and even infomercials ("Air Doodler"). Animation is represented here, too, in "The Magician" (stop-motion) and "The Passenger," which was adapted from a graphic novel. The final two films are among the most memorable of the bunch: Struggling creative types will appreciate "Short Stories," and the consequences of what happens when families try too hard to be too nice is on full — and sometimes painful — display in "You Shouldn't Have."
The Shorts 2 package, which begins two hours later that same evening, is decidedly darker — often both literally and figuratively. Viewers are forced to create their own back-stories and assumptions about what has happened offscreen, and that can be as horrifying as anything onscreen. "Engine" looks at the mysterious circumstances surrounding a young boy's death, while the allegory "Terrible Things" provides a stark, haunting narrative. The mood is brightened, however briefly, by a couple of art pieces. One, "Capitol of the Multiverse," shows a series of shape-shifting capitol buildings that seem to breathe and heave as they morph from one into the next. And "Horizons" pans a virtually unchanging landscape through different lenses and hours of the day, set in perfect time to an award-winning original score.
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