8 Short Films We Can’t Wait To Watch at the 2018 Palm Springs International ShortFest
We’ve already said why we believe Palm Springs ShortFest to be essential for any short film cinephile or short filmmaker, so today it’s time to talk movies!
Movies which are specifically coming to Palm Springs ShortFest this year, that is. Because of the huge number of short film screenings, we cannot list them all (though we wish we could). So here’s 8 short films at the festival this year that we at Miniflix believe represent the variety and talent of the festival lineup.
#1 — Emergency, director Carey Williams
This film already carries with it some pretty impressive pedigree (winner of the Special Jury Award at Sundance and winner of Best Narrative Short at Sundance).
The film not only looks extremely accomplished, but is also a timely exploration of themes sadly still relevant today. Under the conventions of the thriller genre, director Carey Williams follows a group of Black and Latino young men as they face an emergency situation. Whether the characters should involve the cops becomes a major dramatic question, ironically turning the assumption most films make about calling the police on itself.
Given Williams’ previous work (see how he uses The Lord’s Prayer in the opening of Cherry Waves), we can expect some playful subversion at work. Few short filmmakers have such a meteoric rise on the festival circuit, but we’re just happy that a short filmmaker is getting this much attention.
#2 — Kleptomami, director Pola Beck
It takes a woman to truly understand the struggles of motherhood and the absurdities often demanded of mothers from society and other moms.
And German female director Pola Beck was certainly the right choice to explore the more satirical side of a subject usually treated with the utmost reverence and respect.
Combining the playful extra-reality of a Wes Anderson film with the themes and tonal moves of a Diablo Cody script, Beck makes what looks to be her most expressive and bold film yet.
Kleptomami looks to be quite a departure from her last two short films, which were more austere in nature. We are excited to see strong formal innovations mix together with unexpected subject matter.
#3 — Tungrus, director Rishi Chandna
This documentary is sure to be one of the most crowd-pleasing films at ShortFest this year.
When a family member brings home a rooster as a pet to a middle-class family in a crowded Mumbai apartment, tensions grow and hilarity ensues. While many documentaries have great, quirky premises but then fail to deliver visually or narratively, Tungrus has a real eye for its pesky character as well as for framing and scene construction. Plus, the multiple perspectives interviewed should make for pacing that never gets old.
#4 — Unfinished, 2017 (Mixed Media), director Rafael Salazar Moreno
Now we go from the more conventional to the more purely artistic.
Known for capturing the extraordinary lives of everyday people in beautiful and engaging social documentaries, director Rafael Salazar Moreno decided to turn the camera on himself this time, only using a fictional premise to do so. The story of an artist in New York forced to face the commercial demands placed upon her vocation by the art world is one the director says comes from a very personal place.
The cinematography and editing look to be as provocative as the art pieces (using real artwork from Mary Mattingly) featured. It’s already been to several festivals and will certainly be in more after Palm Springs.
#5 — Wyrm, director Christopher Winterbauer
A quirky but intriguing premise catapults this Palm Springs premiere to the top of our list.
The title character has two days to kiss another person before he is held by his school’s No Child Left Alone program. Both a social satire and an absurdist critique, director Christopher Winterbauer looks to be delivering the inventiveness and wit of a Yorgos Lanthimos comedy in a short-film-sized format.
Winterbauer is one of the more prolific narrative short filmmakers on this list, with past efforts placing in several short film festivals and winning Vimeo Challenges and Staff Picks of the Week. Needless to say, we have full confidence in Winterbauer and crews’ filmmaking ability to provide a retro 1990’s period piece that feels as real and lived in as our own world. The trailer alone proves to us that we will not be let down.
#6 — Fitting, director Emily Avila
With a plot centered around one extended and emotional visit to a fitting room, Australian director Emily Avila looks to prove well the adage that the best short films are also the simplest.
But don’t be fooled by the minutiae of the plot description. This film looks to have plenty to say under the surface, particularly with its elegant framing, boxy aspect ratio and lachrymose trailer music. Not unlike last year’s Phantom Thread, Fitting is both about clothes and yet about so much more.
If sensuous, romantic world cinema of the Wong Kar-Wai variety is up your alley, then make sure to put this on your festival pass list!
#7 — Prince’s Tale, director Jamie Miller
A much less light-hearted documentary than Tungrus comes next, but if the person highlighted in this film is any indication, the gravitas will be very much earned.
Prince Amponsah is a young actor who, because of a near-fatal fire accident in 2012, became severely disfigured. Director Jamie Miller places Prince back on the stage, photographing him in striking black and white tones and looking like a warrior. This film triumphantly documents Prince’s slow but steady ascent back to the stage. Equal parts sobering and inspiring, Prince’s Tale looks to be an unconventionally-told story of the triumph of the human spirit.
#8 — Gaze, director Farnoosh Samadi
We finish with an Iranian short that looks to carry the realism and moral complexity of an Asghar Farhadi film.
Gaze tells the story of a woman who witnesses a crime on the way home from work. Given the grim, staid nature of the camerawork in the trailer, we can expect some serious fallout from the main character’s discovery.
Farnoosh Samadi has already had two past short films (one directed, one written) place at Cannes. There’s no denying this prescient eye will capture more confounding stories in what should be a long and storied career.