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Film Review – Denver Film Festival Short Films Part 1 (2018)

Denver Film Festival

These short films will be playing at the Denver Film Festival from October 31st to November 11th. Head over to the DFF’s website to purchase your tickets!


The MovieBabble staff was given the opportunity to screen some of the films featured there. This article is the first in a series, discussing the festival’s short films.

Earthrise

Winner, Audience Award: AFI Docs Festival
Winner, Best Documentary Short: Raindance Film Festival

U.S.A., 30 minutes. Directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee.
Starring: Bill Anders, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell.

This is a documentary about the photo known as “Earthrise,” the most famous image of the Earth as seen from the moon. The photo was taken in 1968, by astronaut Bill Anders during the Apollo 8 mission. The story is told solely by the men aboard: Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell (Apollo 13‘s, “Houston, we have a problem,” Jim Lovell). The movie largely focuses on the photograph itself, and its impact, which is nice. The story could have easily become far too broad to be told in the half-hour run time, but the pacing, narrative, and editing all keep this from happening.

Along with modern-day interviews with the astronauts, Earthrise also features news reel content from around the time of the mission. Perhaps most astonishing, however, is footage actually captured by the crew themselves, while aboard the vessel. It is truly fascinating to witness “home movies,” if you will, from such a monumental event (especially one that took place 50 years ago).

Throughout Earthrise, the astronauts describe their experiences, and how the mission completely changed their outlook. The men describe how that view of Earth, and the image they brought back, held the potential to unite nations. They say while there was a period of a “we are all citizens of Earth” sort of feeling, it faded. The men express disappointment that 50 years later, the social changes they hoped the photo would inspire have not come to pass.

Grade: A

Denver Film Festival

image via NASA

Applied Pressure

U.S.A., 6 minutes. Directed by Kelly Sears.

Applied Pressure is essentially an animated slideshow of women being massaged. The images are tinted red, and accompanied by a soundtrack of music, ocean waves, and a whispering voice. According to the description given on IMDb, the movie is meant to feel healing, like receiving a massage. While it is somewhat calming, I suppose, overall it reads as being artsy for artsy’s sake. Perhaps, some would argue that I just didn’t, “get it.” These images would work as stills in an art gallery, but the animation is far too… jumpy.  The short run time is appropriate for the content, as any longer would be quite taxing for the viewer.

This would perhaps be impressive if it was made by someone you know, for a film school project, or something. Alongside other short films from the DFF, it just looks like a mess.

Grade: D

Denver Film Festival

image via Counterpath

Coyote

Switzerland, approx. 10 minutes. Directed by Lorenz Wunderle.

Coyote is an animated short film, somewhat in the style of Adventure Time — and Quentin Tarantino. It is a hyper-violent and psychedelic story that explores trauma, grief, and revenge. The story begins with the protagonist experiencing a horrific wolf attack, which leaves his mate and pups dead. Our lead receives injuries that would surely kill him, but he is restored to health to avenge his family. Think The Crow, but instead of a human rock musician, Eric Draven is a cartoon coyote. When the coyote is brought back, he takes on a more human appearance, as do his attackers.

The story, although accompanied by disturbing (and/or gross) imagery, is well told (even with no dialogue). The music in Coyote is also used very effectively — a country song while he’s drinking , and a hard rock song during his revenge montage. The soundtrack is so well done, that it brings up the quality of the entire piece. It all fits together to create quite an impact.

Grade: A-

Denver Film Festival

image via Directors Notes

A Love Letter to the One I Made Up

Winner of the Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Animafest Zagreb, 2018

Israel, 6 minutes. Directed by Rachel Gutgarts.
Narrator: Tomer Damsky

This one starts off similar to the style of the aforementioned Applied Pressure: red screen, ocean wave sounds. That is quite interesting, considering, as far as I can tell, the films are in no way connected. A Love Letter to the One I Made Up was created as a student film when Gutgart was graduating from the animation department of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, in 2017. It was made using “experimental animation,” involving elements of silk screen printing. It’s a quite unusual aesthetic, but an intriguing one. The animation depicts everyday tasks such as walking in the rain, and fantasy imagery, such as diving into puddles and entering an undersea world.

A Love Letter to the One I Made Up not only has calming visuals, but the narration is very pleasant in tone. The title sums up the plot quite well, as it is about a woman addressing the love of her life, whom she hasn’t yet met.

Grade: B

Denver Film Festival

image via Cargo Collective

The Care & Keeping Of Your Woman

U.S.A., approx. 3 minutes. Directed by Croix Provence.
Starring: Croix Provence, Anthony Gros; narrated by Phil LaMarr.

A scathing commentary on sexual harassment and assault, set up as a parody of a 1950s dog training reel. It is at once hilarious, disturbing, and sadly, relatable. Director, writer, editor and star Provence does a phenomenal job here, using entertaining satire/sarcasm to discuss a very important and uncomfortable subject. The costuming and film style are both perfectly in keeping with the 1950s “how to” theme.

The Care & Keeping Of Your Woman feels like something that might go viral, but with more of an edge. It’s more graphic than a video most of us would feel comfortable sharing on their Facebook wall, but has a message that should nonetheless spread like wildfire. My prediction is, a slightly edited version will do just that someday soon.

Grade: A

Image result for the care & keeping of your woman film

Teardown

U.S.A., 4 minutes. Directed by Kate E. Hinshaw.

Teardown is comprised of 16mm and super 8mm “home movie” style film footage, hand painted in shades of green, purple, and pink. At times, the painting is simply an overlay of color, at other times there are patterns. The story is told through words on the screen. It is not so much a narrative, as it is poem-like, but it does weave a story. In that way, it reminded of The Thin Red Line, which took a narrative screenplay and edited it down to a series of vignettes.

Teardown‘s official description states it is, “a story of divorce, gentrification, and the fraught relationship between mother and daughter that surfaced from the destruction a home.” While the viewer does pick up on much of this, it was perhaps not as effective as it had the potential to be.

Sidenote: There are some visuals, such as strobe light style flashing, that may trigger those with seizures. 

Grade: C+

Denver Film Festival

image via KateHinshaw.com


Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on The Denver Film Festival, or these short films? Comment down below!

Visit the Denver Film Festival’s website for more information on the film.

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Patricia Henderson

Patricia Henderson resides in Northern California, and has been a writer in some form most of her life. She wrote short stories for young authors fairs as a child, and later worked on the newspaper and literary magazine in college. Writing and movies are her main passions, so blogging about movies was a logical leap to take.

1 Response

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