This weekend was the Seventh Annual Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Film Festival, which is definitely one of the cooler things about being a film fan in Seattle. And being a film fan in Seattle is pretty cool already.
SFFSFF is a celebration of nerdery, four hours of short films in the beautiful Cinerama theater with a sold-out (always in advance) crowd of devotees. And yet, even though I am an epic nerd, this is only the third festival I’ve attended, mostly because it’s a bit too much for me on my own. SFFSFF requires a posse. Posses are particularly helpful when a film is really appalling and yet the audience seems to love it. It’s nice to have validation. And on the bright side, even if a film is appalling, it’s a short! It’ll be over soon!
This year, most of the second half was appalling. However, the first block was awesome! Here are some film-specific thoughts:
“Time Freak” is the obvious favorite. It’s the only film in the festival that was nominated for an Oscar, and it had charmed me earlier this year when I saw it at Best of SIFF. It’s about a guy who does exactly what I would do if I had a time machine: attempt to get things right, and fail. It won a juried prize and the Audience award, for which I am very relieved.
“Dead Happy” is the short I voted for as Audience Favorite. It’s a cute film about a grim reaper, and though it is a bit in the spirit of Dead Like Me, it definitely brings its own style. It also had, hands down, the best line of the whole evening. Let’s just say it involves the Catholics & leave it at that.
In voting, I had been torn between “Dead Happy” and “Oliver Bump’s Birthday”, which was also pretty damn adorable. Oliver is the youngest of four children, all of whom died when they turned 13. Now it’s his 13th birthday, and he wants to make the most of it in his own way. Nice story & design, and as a bonus, totally sweet kids.
“Terminus” got a juried award as well as an award for effects, which was absolutely deserved. It looked like a film straight out of the seventies, but a film from a creepy alternate seventies where megaliths of varying composition started following people around. Very cool concept for a short.
“Carte a Julia” is the sort of film that keeps me coming back, being basically a no-budget film from another country. It was such a relief to get to it, placed as it was towards the end of the awful second half. It’s a Spanish film about a retired couple. The husband comes back from his morning walk with a matter-of-fact story about their surprising new neighbors in the countryside.
“Matter Fisher” was beautiful, “Dolls Factory” was just as weird and cool as when I saw it at MIFFF, “Decapoda Shock” was probably the most surprising, and “Protoparticulas” had a great concept & vintage look.
Ones I wish had been better:
“Chorebot”, the story of a bot and his dog and the human who owns them, was a great concept, but the effects were just a bit disappointing, as was a distracting continuity issue. Major bonus points for the widescreen formatting, though!
“The Comet Chronicles”, which was terrible, but if done well would have been totally up my alley: outer space noir! With ladies! Unfortunately, the ladies couldn’t act. And the script was mediocre. Sigh.
…and it’s not fair to “Birdboy” really to put it here, but it fits here best. Maybe I wish *I* had been better for “Birdboy”. If I read the graphic novel would I follow it better? The animation, however, was utterly gorgeous.
And finally, the appalling ones:
“The Dungeon Master”, which was Rider Strong & Warren from Buffy being assholes. That’s it. I hated it.
“The Epiphany”, which was only a regular degree of disappointing until the Q&A where the director revealed that, until she got permission to adapt a Jonathan Letham short story, she had planned a short about an 80s lady superhero. A LADY SUPERHERO. FROM THE 80s. I would much rather have seen that. But instead we saw yet another forgettable short about a stupid angsty white boy. Ugh.
“The Captivus” was by far the most upsetting film, so of course the director is expanding it into a feature. The frustrating thing about it was that, on a broad level at least, it had an interesting concept. Two guys have been on a mission in deep space, and one of them is nearing the end of his tour. But the twist is that they’re actually in prison, and the mission has been a coping mechanism. Interesting, right? Except that the short is disgustingly homophobic. Also, even before it got that far I was ready to leave because the sound design was so over-stimulating.
…and then the whole thing ended with two more blows to the ladies: “Madam Perrault’s Bluebeard” and “The Hunter & the Swan Discuss Their Meeting”. Ugh. Guys, I know that scifi & fantasy were not traditionally lady-friendly. But it’s 2012. Knock that shit off.
The best part of “Bluebeard” was the cinematography, & the best part of “The Hunter” was the other couple they’re having dinner with, especially the other lady. But they were still both aggravating.
…that’s kind of a low note to end on. Sorry! The festival is fun! The first half was great! I enjoyed the streaming Twitter feed of the hashtag at halftime! Yay nerds! Go hunt down my favorite films!
Were you there? Which ones did you like best? How cute was the kid who played Oliver? Freckles & Melancholy! (tm Joy)