The Austin Chronicle

Fantastic Fest Tells Tales of the Long and the Short and the Tall

By Richard Whittaker, September 4, 2013, 3:20pm, Picture in Picture

It's time to get small. With two rounds of feature films already on the schedule, Fantastic Fest has just announced its tall stack of short films for 2013.

From bloodstained shockers to impressionistic art adaptations, shorts are a big part of the weirdness and wonder of Austin's celebration of alternative and genre fiction. After all, it's where a lot of film makers cut their teeth. That said, it's also a preferred form for many veterans, so look for the Texas premiere of 'Drunker Than a Skunk', the latest from cult animator Bill Plympton.

As always, there's a fair few FF veterans, not least Can Evrenol, who returns with satanic shocker 'Baskin' after his highly NSFW gory thriller To My Mother and Father. And, as always, congrats to the local crowd, including Tyler Mager and Americo Siller with their directorial debut on horror throwback Witch, and actor Arthur Dale (best known as young Tony in Grow Up Tony Phillips) for S/ash.

Here's the full list of shorts:

Angst, Piss and Shit (Norway, 2012)
D: Fredrik S. Hana, 19 min, North American Premiere
A hapless serial murderer laments the crumbling of his true love’s affections. Not since Jorg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik have we seen such a sordid, uncompromising and blackly humorous tale of a killer romance gone south.

Baskin (Turkey, 2013)
D: Can Evrenol, 11 min, North American Premiere
A group of Turkish police called in to a desolate area stumble upon a squalid and blood-soaked den of satanic ritual. The latest from Fantastic Fest alumnus Can Evrenol ('To My Mother and Father') is a visceral trip into the darkest pits of a very palpable evil.

Beasts in the Real World (Canada, 2013)
D: Sol Friedman, 8 min, U.S. Premiere
Sol Friedman follows up his brilliant Love Songs from an Android and A Message From Your Robot President with this iconoclastic blend of documentary, animation and action fantasy about an exasperated amphibious creature recalling the adventure that led him to a sushi restaurant chopping block.

The Body (UK, 2013)
D: Paul Davis, 18 min, North American Premiere
A serial killer (Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones) discovers he can get away with anything on Halloween night, including dragging his latest victim around as a prop amidst a sea of oblivious London partiers.

Breakfast on the Grass (Estoria, 2011)
D: Erik Alunurm & Mari-Liis Rebane, 5 min. Texas Premiere
A hilarious claymation take on the making of a masterpiece, brought to us by students of acclaimed Estonian animator Priit Parn.

Drunker Than a Skunk (USA, 2012)
D: Bill Plympton, 3 min, Texas Premiere
Animation vet and Fantastic Fest fave Bill Plympton’s latest is a wily adaptation of Walt Curtis’ 1973 poem 'The Time The Drunk Came To Town And Got Drunker Than A Skunk, Or So He Thought,' about a roving drunk who is brutally tormented by mean-spirited townsfolk.

Eat (Germany, 2012)
D: Moritz Kramer, 7 min, U.S. Premiere
A fashion model fantasizes about indulging herself in a world where everything is edible.

Exquisite Corpse (France, 2013)
D: Léa Mysius, 25 min, North American Premiere
Director Léa Mysius turns a grim premise into an utterly adorable film debut with this story of an insolent tomboy living in the French countryside who finds an unlikely playmate in the dead body she drags out of the local swamp.

Flesh (Columbia, 2013)
D: Carlos Gomez Salamanca, 8 min, North American Premiere
The faces and impressions surrounding an animal sacrifice in Columbia are brought to life in an animated reconstruction from actual video archive footage that counters the profane with the abstract.

Green Eyed (Australia, 2012)
D: Nathaniel Lindsay, 16 min, North American Premiere
An obnoxious up-and-coming executive can’t understand why no one else can see that his professional and social rival is actually a reptilian monster.

The Guest (Canada, 2013)
D: Jovanka Vuckovic, 4 min, U.S. Premiere
In this luscious new film from The captured Bird director Jovanka Vuckovic, a man suffers delusions after making a horrific bargain.

Guilt (Lithuania, 2013)
D: Reda Bartkute, 6 min, North American Premiere
In this promising debut from Lithuanian animator Reda Bartkute, a nervous female fox retreats into the shifting landscape of her subconscious to face a shadowy doppelganger.

Here Be Monsters (New Zealand, 2013)
D: Paul Glub & Nic Gorman, 15 min, Texas Premiere
In the wake of a zombie apocalypse, an infected soldier is sent home to spend his last hours with his wife and estranged daughter. Amidst reconciliations and toasts, all are aware that time is running out fast. The assured directorial debut of visual FX producer Paul Glubb (The Hobbit; Don't Be Afraid of the Dark).

A House, A Home (USA, 2012)
D: Daniel Fickle, 7 mins, Austin Premiere
Bearing the fantastical shades of Joe Massot’s Wonderwall, Daniel Fickle’s music video for Alialujah Choir’s "A House, A Home" explores the secret lives of two adolescents who live in small, antiquated rooms connected by underground tunnels. Inspired by a heartbreaking true story.

Jack Attack (USA, 2013)
D: Antonio Padovan & Bryan Norton, 9 min, Austin Premiere
“Do pumpkins feel pain?” Helen Rogers of V/H/S and 24 Exposures stars as a babysitter who learns the answer the hard way in this soon-to-be Halloween classic.

Kick-Heart (Japan, 2013)
D: Masaaki Yuasa, 13 min, Regional Premiere
The latest from anime outlaw Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game) is a candy-colored story of secret obsession: professional wrestler Maskman M derives masochistic pleasure from being pummelled by his Amazonian opponent Lady S, who clearly reciprocates in savouring their violent public trysts. But do they have a chance in the real world?

The Last Video Store (Canada, 2013)
D: Cody Kennedy & Tim Rutherford, 10 min, U.S. Premiere
The crew behind Edmonton’s DEDFest and cult video store The Lobby bring you this histrionic tidal wave of VHS nostalgia, featuring robots, evil corporations, a killer theme song and guest-FX by Astron-6’s Steve Kostanski.

Living Still Life (France, 2012)
D: Bertrand Mandico, 15 min, U.S. Premiere
Actress Elina Löwensohn (best known from Hal Hartley’s Simple Men and Amateur) continues her collaboration with French director Bertrand Mandico (Boro in the Box) as an isolated woman who brings dead things back to life in unusual ways.

Manifold (Canada, 2013)
D: Anthony Scott Burns, 10 min, U.S. Premiere
Canuck character vet Stephen McHattie stars as a country sheriff investigating what appears to be a mass suicide, while miles away a computer tech developing a complex facial recognition program stumbles upon his own connection to the bizarre mystery. The latest from filmmaker and visual FX whiz Anthony Scott Burns, Manifold has already been optioned for development as a feature.

Memorable Me (Canada, 2013)
D: Jean-François Asselin, 15 min, Texas Premiere
In this savvy commentary on the narcissistic pull of social media platforms, a self-obsessed man is convinced that he will cease to exist unless someone is thinking about him at all times, causing him to stoop to the lowest levels of unethical and debasing behaviour to satiate his need for constant attention.

Misterio (Spain, 2013)
D: Chema García Ibarra, 12 min, Texas Premiere
A deadpan black comedy from the director of Fantastic Fest favorite Attack of the Robots From Nebula 5 about an alienated Spanish housewife who gets a secret message from The Virgin that will change her life forever.

Munchausen (USA, 2013)
D: Ari Aster, 15 min, World Premiere
A clingy mother (Bonnie Bedelia of The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie; Die hard) goes to extreme lengths to prevent her son from going off to college. The latest from the prolific director of the disturbing The Strange Thing About the Johnsons.

My Pain is Worse Than Your Pain (USA, 2013)
D: Adam Hall, 17 min, Regional Premiere
Based on the short story by T.C Boyle, Adam Hall’s short film about the ostracization of a desperate man (Clark Middleton, Sin City; Kill Bill Vol. 2) following his professed obsession with a female neighbor explores the subjective toll of daily humiliation.

The Naturalist (USA, 2013)
D: Connor Hurley, 15 min, Texas Premiere
What if you could take a drug to change your orientation? In a future where only the genetically modified thrive, one man is faced with a horrible decision. One of the most poignant and disturbing bits of dystopian sci-fi we’ve seen this year.

Ninja Eliminator III (Canada, 2013)
D: François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell, 4 min, U.S. Premiere
The latest gonzo short from Canadian collective Roadkill Superstar, (whose Turbo Kid feature is about to head into production) this mock-trailer delivers everything you could want in a long-lost Godfrey Ho flick, including the obligatory “Ninja” headbands and boobs that turn into cats.

Perfect Drug (Belguim, 2012)
D: Toon Aerts, 14 min, Texas Premiere
After a bungled burglary, a gang of hoods sit in a parked car waiting to hand off their loot – a suitcase full of neon test tubes – to a merciless crime boss. But when one of them dives into the stash, psychedelic ultraviolent mayhem ensues. Pure body-swapping anarchy with ice cream and pickles.

Raw Data (USA, 2013)
D: Jake Fried, 1 min, Austin Premiere
Jake Fried’s mythologically charged hand-drawn animations made with white-out, gouache and coffee have won the attention of arthounds from PBS to Juxtapoz with their kinetically layered one-minute mania.

Retrocognition (USA, 2012)
D: Eric Patrick, 18 min, Austin Premiere
A brilliant and disturbing pastiche of melodramatic 1940s radio dramas, former Texan Eric Patrick’s distorted domestic characters - with their cracked faces and murderous longings - offer an uncanny underside to the idyllic nuclear family.

The Sad House (Mexico, 2013)
D: Sofia Catalina Carrillo Ramírez, 13 min, U.S. Premiere
Fantastic Fest Alumna Sofia Carrillo (Black Doll) returns with her most ambitious stop-motion film yet: the epic history of a family beset upon by war, illness and death, told with antiquated trinkets on a single dilapidated desktop.

S/ash (USA, 2013)
D: Clay Liford, 9 min, Austin Premiere
A 13-year-old boy (Arthur Dale of Grow Up, Tony Phillips, whose director Emily Hagins also makes a cameo here) writes erotic Harry Potter fan fiction, leading to an awkwardly hilarious confrontation at the local Comicon.

Sleep Clinic (New Zealand, 2013)
D: Frances Haszard, Luke Scott & Louis Olsen, 7 min, North American Premiere
This WTF animated short made for New Zealand’s 48Hrs Furious Fimmaking Challenge spends six mind-melting minutes entrenched in the desperate delusions of an insomniac. The most essential psychiatric fantasy musical since On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

The Sleeping Plot (New Zealand, 2013)
D: Dean Hewison, 5 min, North American Premiere
A little girl thinks of mischievous ways to save up money for an object she desperately desires. Winner of New Zealand’s 2013 48Hrs Furious Filmmaking competition.

Skom (France, 2012)
D: Christophe Deroo, 8 min. U.S. Premiere
In this Lovecraftian throwback to the pulpy pleasures of vintage horror comics, two kids stumble upon their school janitor’s ghastly plan to get rid of his domineering mother.

Sulfuric (USA, 2013)
D: Jeff Brown, 9 min, World Premiere
A woman returns from vacation to find her roommate comatose and a pulsating organic substance in the bathroom wastebasket. A taut exercise in urban gothic dread.

Sweet Rabbit (Netherlands, 2012)
D: Camille Schouwenaar, 14 min, North American Premiere
Based on the book by Dutch children’s writer Imme Dros, a middle-aged housewife is seized by anxiety when she starts to grow rabbit ears and finds the community unsympathetic to her predicament.

The Vehicle (Canada, 2012)
D: O. Corbin Saleken, 11 min, Austin Premiere
A woman is accosted by a man who claims to be carrying an important message for her from the future. A captivating character piece propelled by two quietly breathtaking performances.

We, The Masses (Ireland, 2011)
D: Eoghan Kidney, 13 min, Austin Premiere
In a snowy landscape after an unnamed cataclysmic event, a lost man looks for signs of civilization, falling in with an anarchic smattering of humanoids whose destructive impulses are at odds with his need for transcendence. Based on drawings by artist Robyn O'Neil, this fourth short from former member of Irish animation collective Delicious 9 Eoghan Kidney is a disquieting journey through the machinations of social trauma.

Whispers (USA, 2013) D: Max Isaacson, 7 min, World Premiere
Convinced that the rats rampant in his home are trying to infest his body, a man slowly goes insane in a dank basement, surrounding himself with bloody trophies.

Witch (USA, 2013)
D: Americo Siller &Tyler Major, 7 min, World Premiere
In their directorial debut, Austin’s own Tyler Mager and Americo Siller turn in a surreal and grotesque story of a couple in the middle of a public breakup who realize too late that they have their hearts on the line in more ways than one.

Woman Who Hates Plants (USA, 2013)
D: Morgan Miller, 1 min, Texas Premiere
This woman really doesn’t like plants.

Yellow (Germany, United Kingdom, 2012)
D: Ryan Haysom & Jon Britt, 26 min, Texas Premiere
Haysom and Britt’s ultra-stylized, synth-fueled neo-giallo blends the subjective impulses and misanthropy of Gerald Kargl’s ANGST with the trappings of the Italian murder mystery: whispered threats, catholic retribution, cartographic obsession, black gloves, straight razors and the obligatory J&B Whiskey. A mood piece that never strays from its influences while simultaneously offering an unexpected twist on the genre.

You Are Here (Canada, 2012)
D: Leslie Supnet, 3 min, Texas Premiere
Inspired by the work and tragic murder of animator Helen Hill, Leslie Supnet’s You Are Here is a lovely ode to surviving connections beyond the grave.

Ziegenort (Poland, 2013)
D: Tomasz Popakul, 19 min, Texas Premiere
A fishboy living in a coastal village resorts to shocking behavior when shunned by his peers. Making great use of manufactured chiaroscuro lighting and striking color flourishes, this award-winning short is a dramatic slice of teen angst at its most nightmarish.

Fantastic Fest 2013 runs September 19-26 at the Alamo Lakeline. More details at Plus, keep following all our updated and ongoing coverage at

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