2nd International Festival of Short Films

1994 Directed by Various.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 29, 1994

Eleven short live-action films. Two hours total running time. Some excellent films. Some mediocre pieces. None bad. This second collection of short films is an admirable effort on the part of Andalusian Pictures to make short films theatrically accessible. Little seen outside the festival circuit, these touring packages of shorts ensure their wider viewership. Stand-outs here include 1992's Oscar-winner for best live-action short (which was also included in the package Oscar Shorts that played here recently) “Omnibus” by Sam Karmann, an amusing anecdote perfectly suited to the short film format; “Kitchen Sink” by Alison Maclean (Crush), a creepy, compelling fantasy in which a woman creates her ideal man from some revolting glop she yanks out of the sink drain; and Gus Van Sant's “Thanksgiving Prayer,” a three-minute masterpiece which superimposes the filmmaker's volatile American and historic imagery over the sound of William S. Burroughs intoning his scornful poem that assaults American hypocrisy. Other works of note include the “The Bet,” the directorial debut of Ted Demme (The Ref, Who's the Man?) in which a horse gambler can't give up his addiction; “Work Experience” by James Hendrie and starring British comedian Lenny Henry which was a 1989 Academy Award-winner; and Jeff Balsmeyer's “The Room,” in which a young boy dramatically escapes the confines of his tenement apartment and his paranoid dad. The remaining five pieces in this collection are interesting exercises but lack some of the dynamism or solidity of the other six. Still, none of these films is terribly long so if you become impatient with one, another is sure to begin momentarily. The “international” of the title overstates the case a bit: the only countries represented here are the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, France and Belgium (which is represented by only one film). Future collections of short films might aim for a more truly international focus that includes works by filmmakers of more racial and sexual variety. For the time being, however, let's be thankful for the films we do have.

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More Various Films
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2nd International Festival of Short Films, Various

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