Sunday, June 14, 2015

Reverend's Preview: Short Stuff

Length does matter… at least when it comes to the more than 300 short films that will screen this month at the 21st annual Palm Springs International ShortFest. The event runs June 16th-22nd at the Camelot Theatre, 2300 E. Baristo Road in Palm Springs.

While I wouldn’t say shorter is automatically better in terms of cinematic storytelling, some shorts can weave a tale more effectively and certainly more economically than a feature-length Hollywood production. This year’s entries come from over 50 countries and include a healthy smattering of LGBT-interest films. Most are between 5 and 15 minutes in length. The concurrent Short Film Market will feature a library of more than 3,000 films available to film buyers, industry and press, the only Short Film Market in North America. Special events include nightly receptions as well as seminars and master classes with industry experts and filmmaking professionals, which are free to all filmmakers who participate in the fest.

Somewhere in Palm Springs

Recently hailed by USA Today as the best US film festival for short films, the 2015 Palm Springs International ShortFest has also announced the first 13 films chosen to represent the ShortFest Online Film Festival. Now in its fifth year, these select films are currently available for free viewing on a special section of the festival website. Online voting for these films is now open and will run through June 20th, with the “ShortFest Online Audience Award” announced at the Festival Award Ceremony on Closing Night.

“The online world has become an increasingly important avenue for short filmmakers in terms of exposing their work to a wider audience. While the best way to appreciate a film – whether short or feature length – remains seeing it on a large screen with a rapt audience, our commitment to providing a launching pad for emerging filmmakers is not limited to theatrical screenings,” said Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. “That’s why we created ShortFest Online five years ago, and the films included in this year’s online edition show the same spirit of inventiveness and unbridled talent exemplified by the 300+ films selected for theatrical screenings at the 2015 Palm Springs International ShortFest.”

San Cristóbal

One of the shorts in the online competition is the aptly-titled Somewhere in Palm Springs, a very funny animated comedy about three trash-talking gay men and their girlfriend hanging out at a local hotel pool. Also of note is We Are Fire, a documentary revealing how a group of Indian women decked in red saris help other women who have been oppressed or victimized in their native country.

A number of other LGBT films will be screening at the Camelot Theatre during ShortFest. These include:

  • Dániel, in which a young student from Budapest works as a male escort to pay for his college tuition in London.
  • Morning is Broken, a beautifully-shot story about two men attending a wedding who share an unexpected kiss that could inadvertently tear them apart.
  • Going Down finds a tense accountant trapped in an elevator with a massage therapist, only to have their encounter turn sensually surreal.
  • The Future Perfect stars out actor Zachary Quinto in a time-travel tale that results in a compromised future.
  • Nineteen, a sensitive drama in which a closeted teenager makes a connection with a rent boy, who soon learns his client has another secret.
  • Manchego, a comedy centered on a young woman who comes home to tell her parents about her new relationship but finds an unwelcome surprise waiting.
  • San Cristóbal, in which an unlikely romance develops between a struggling young fisherman and another Chilean man about to move abroad. This sexy short won the Teddy Award for Best Short Film at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
  • Pink Boy, an intimate, heartwarming documentary about a gender-creative boy growing up in rural Florida who is adopted by a butch lesbian.
  • Roxanne, a dramatic story of a hardened, isolated transgender sex worker who takes in an abandoned young girl.
  • Setting Them Straight, about a man who amusingly works up the courage to tell his long- accepting parents that he isn’t gay.

To purchase tickets for these and other great shorts, visit the Palm Springs International Film Society website or call 1-800-898-7526.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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