SXSW Film Reviews

"Welcome to the world of existential angst."

Shorts Program Two

D: Various. (Video/35mm/16mm, 110 min.)

"Welcome to the world of existential angst," remarked one filmmaker at the end of Shorts Program Two. It was an apt description of this collection of student and professional shorts, covering everything from heated Mexican-American race relations (Cruz Angeles's "Abuela's Revolt") and twentysomething alienation (Mahesh Pailoor's "Little India") to suicidal tendencies (Jacob Estes' "Summoning") and maternal dysfunction (Jeannette Kassem's "Isabelle"). If this compilation represents our country's current collective conscience, then God save us all from ourselves. That's not to say the offerings are without merit. The filmmakers represented composed their material with equal parts conviction and heart, but if humor and inspiration are what you're after, then you'll find it in short dosage here. Of the lot, however, only director Hollie Lanvenstein's "Cleave," a study of a failed marriage as narrated by an answering machine, and Estes' "Summoning," about a mixed-race family, stand out as stories that both entertain and succeed in creating truly identifiable characters. (3/15, Dobie 2, 3pm)

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