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Film Reviews by Lisa Blanck
 
Florida Film Festival 32 - Short Films
| Wednesday, 04.19.2023, 09:56 PM |   (92059 views)

If your short was selected for the FFF, you’re in good company.  This festival is Oscar-qualifying in all three shorts categories: Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film and Documentary Short Subject.  Attendees in previous years have rubbed elbows and perhaps conversed with the directors/writers/producers/stars of short films which premiered here, were then nominated and eventually captured the Oscar in their category. 

There are multiple Shorts categories at the Florida Film Festival: Documentary Shorts, Animated Shorts, International Shorts, International Animated Shorts, Narrative Shorts, Midnight Shorts, Sunshine & Swampland Florida Shorts 1 & 2, Competition Shorts.  Shorts that precede long-forms.  Shorts in their own blocks: Short blocks #1, #2, #3 and #4, 6X Real – Doc Shorts, Sunspots: New Visions of the Avant-Garde. So many shorts, so little time.  Kudos to all!  Personal thanks to the filmmakers who provided In Focus Magazine.com with preview screening links.  You made my job a little easier and for that, you get at least a mention.

The Blood of the Dinosaurs




The Blood of The Dinosaurs (Midnight Shorts) – Uncle Bobbo is the neighbor you DON’T want living next door, or anywhere in your neighborhood.  Kids live inside his kitchen cabinets, the adult Bobbo still hears the voice of his Uncle berate him for wetting the bed.  Bobbo also both hears and speaks with the Devil.  OR does he??  Per Director Joe Badon, the plot is a prologue to The Wheel Of Heaven, a mini-series that will be coming out to festivals very soon.  Badon takes you on his set within the set, pulling back the cameras to reveal the fake stage crew.  Badon tells In Focus Magazine.com that he likes to 'pull back the curtain'.  So much crazy to unpack including a fantastic set that you do NOT want to be in when the lights are off.  Confusing as Hell, but that's as it's meant to be.

Jelqing For Gains

Jelqing For Gains (Midnight Shorts) – OUCH!  Is this really a thing?  I have no idea and I don’t think my male friends would divulge having intimate knowledge of this activity, but I’m sure you’ve never seen carrots used quite like this.  The filmmakers definitely had a rousing good time with the subject matter, pun intended.  It definitely looks more painful than a mammogram and you’ll get a kick out of the star’s “suggested videos”!

Our Males and Females

Our Males and Females (International Shorts #2) – Upon the death of their trans daughter, her parents find it impossible to find someone in their Islamic community to perform the tradition of washing the body before burial.  A heartbreaking account of how difficult it is for some families to accept the personal choices of their adult progeny.  Though it takes place in another country, in light of the political culture wars being waged every day by the US far-right against what is, realistically, a miniscule part our population, this tragic film exemplifies how hard and long the road to acceptance remains.  Director/writer Ahmad Alyaseer tells In Focus Magazine that the story was inspired by a trans Egyptian woman he and his sister crossed paths with and her personal journey.

Really Good Friends

Really Good Friends (Competition Doc Short) – Mary meets her beau on a hook-up site and, together, they have practiced Dom-Sub games for eight years.  Told only from Mary’s logical perspective, the film is a peek into sex after 70.  With her sly smile, Mary insists the two are “very close”, though the way Mary lays out the implements makes the film appear more clinical than personal.  This may have been why I failed to warm up to Friends.


Evan Ever After (Florida Films) – As a cisgender woman, I cannot imagine what it is like to be trans.  But as a woman living in Florida, I’m well aware of how the Republican-held Tallahassee government has stripped women of their Constitutional rights over their own bodies; I feel despair, fear and disgust from that daily fallout.  For Evan Bialosuknia, a teen Floridian, that governmental abuse of authority goes much deeper.  The hate toward one community is deeply felt .. because Evan is trans.  With the unending support of her family and friends, and knowledgeable members of the local medical community, she has been transitioning to female for a number of years.  Though on the surface, the doc is about the crowning of Florida’s first trans Homecoming Queen, Directors Ariel Mahler and Radha Mehta’s film is really about the power of embracing who you are, not just accepting what you are “allowed” or legislated to be.  Without her circle of support, Evan’s journey would have been perilous. As said in the movie, being trans is isolating if you don’t know how people will react to you.  The bottom line - it’s never about the bathrooms or the ballgowns.  It’s about having the power to legislate hateful laws against members of your community. Evan is determined to not let the small-minded haters break her stride or take her power.

Ecce (International Animated Shorts) – There are 11 short films in this block.  Admittedly, animated film is not my cup of tea.  I lost the story thread on many of these.  However, I found Ecce fascinating.  A tale of people putting on oversize masks, hiding their faces and standing on balconies to play music, just to have some contact with neighbors.  And then a string breaks on the instrument. We all experienced the isolation of covid.  In Ecce, one character’s tale takes us to the brink of the absolute, unending Escher-like madness we experienced during the height of the pandemic.  Zoon, another animated short in this block, was also quite adorably enjoyable. 

Day Jobs (Shorts #2) -  You know a film is good when you want to know “what happens next”.  Directors Stevie Wain and Auri Jackson give us immensely likeable characters thrown together into a comedy jambalaya.  Written and starring Wain as a struggling comedienne/nanny, she’s just come out to her live-in boyfriend as gay and now needs a paying job and, potentially, a place to live.  She’s got debts, and the temporary solution to her life challenges comes in the form of a married and lactating ex-girlfriend with a young toddler who needs tending. And yes, lactation plays a key scene in Day Jobs.  Director Wain told the audience that the short is a pitch for a TV pilot, and she’s got story arcs for four seasons.  Fingers crossed her show gets a network green-light and we get to see more of Wain.

Imelda Is Not Alone

Imelda Is Not Alone  (6X Real: Competition Documentary Short) – A Florida Film Festival World Premiere.  A pregnant young woman is so unknowledgeable about the world and her own body that she didn’t even know she was carrying a child.  Her newborn is fished out of the waste in her outhouse toilet and it’s easy to tell she had no idea what happened.  The El Salvadorian government quickly imposes a prison sentence of 20 years on the woman, who lives with her mother and stepfather.  An advocacy group takes up her case.  El Salvador is now considered a developing nation, yet it’s both saddening and stupefying that in a country with nearly 1/3 of its’ people subsisting below the poverty line, the government not only does very little to improve the lives of the less fortunate, it punishes them for their lack of knowledge.  Human rights is not a priority in El Salvador.

 

Sulam

Sulam (The Ladder) (Shorts #3) – The fact that children of newish non-English speaking immigrants more easily acclimate to their new country is explored in this Orlando-based short. Both language and cultural differences are a barrier to acceptance, and all 12-year-old Alma wants to do is fit in.  Her mother is either openly combative or simply frightened of her new world.  Director Noam Argov explores the generational divide with care and patience.


Take Me Home

 

Take Me Home (Shorts #1) – Anna is the star of this short film.  When Anna’s mom passes away in their home, Anna, who in real life, lives with a cognitive disability, reaches out to her sister Emily for help.  The film is told from Anna’s point of view.  Per Director/Writer Liz Sargent, the film is immensely personal.  Knowing that Anna has short term memory issues, working within Anna’s abilities was critical to moving the story forward.  Sargent told us that she wanted to tell the story from the viewpoint of the person with a disability, rather than from the outside looking in.  Sargent succeeds in taking us into Anna’s upended world, with all its challenges and surprises.


Pony Boys
 

Pony Boys (Competition Doc Short) – Director Eric Stange tells In Focus Magazine that he wasn’t looking for this story when it dropped into his lap.  His next door-neighbor thought he might be interested in her husband’s experience, when, as a young boy, he and his brother came up with the plan to attend Expo ’67 in Montreal.  The fact that their parents were not going to drive them there from Massachusetts never gave them pause.  After making sure that their young Shetland pony was fit and healthy, they hooked him up to his pony cart, hopped in, and began their 350 mile journey.  Yes, mom made sure that they were occasionally assisted along the way, and even came to their rescue when confronted by the Mounties, but, for the most part, these young boys figured out how to depend on the kindness of strangers. Naïve and 100% trusting that they would reach their destination, the film’s cheerful narrative includes film clips from inquisitive news stations along their route who traced their clip-clopping journey. 


Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor and Movie Reviewer for In Focus-Magazine.com.  Her background includes 30+ years of digital editing for WESH2 News and WKMG News.  She also edits on-air promotional spots for Matter Of Fact, a highly-rated nationally syndicated news and information program.  For more than 30 years she has covered the Florida Film Festival and the World Peace Film Festival, with additional experience in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at MTV Networks.  She was previously a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper.




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