Saturday, June 14, 2008

WSFF 2008 #4: Kids’ Flicks Never Disappoint

Before we chat about the annual Shorts for Shorties collection of short films geared towards kids – which was excellent, as usual – can we talk for a moment about what seems to be an unsettling trend among filmmakers at this year’s fest: killing dogs. Good grief, it’s like someone put out a memo requesting more canine deaths in film. Today, two more films featured dogs dying in unpleasant ways. Thankfully, though, unlike Death of Shula, neither of today’s victims were actually harmed during filming.

But I digress...

First up today were the kids’ shorts – hooray! I don’t know why, but filmmakers catering to a younger set are always much, much better at making short films that are both short and films. They’re usually under five minutes, often animated and almost always great – smart, funny, vibrant and able to hold the attention of audience members under 12. Today’s collection contained 18 films, and I’m having a hard time narrowing down my favorites. Most memorable were the trio of Shaun the Sheep shorts (7/8 for them all) -- Stick With Me, Hiccups and The Snore Worn Shaun. Aardman Animation (home of Wallace & Gromit) are masters at their craft, so it’s no surprise that these three films were by far the most popular today.

Also extra-good were:

* My Happy End (7/8), a black-and-white story about an animated dog who finds a best friend in his hind quarters

* the South African tale Jungle Beat 2: Because You’re Gorgeous (7/8), in which a self-absorbed warthog learns the perils of vanity.

and

* Rebelle (7/8), about a note that decides to shake things up within its piece of classical music.

I ducked out after the last film and quickly got back in line for Official Selection 4: Creatures Great and Small, a programme containing films that somehow relate to nature, wildlife, animals or pets. I picked this screening largely because of one film: actor Paddy Considine’s directorial effort, Dog Altogether (6/8), which was not only written and directed by one of my favorite UK talents, but which stars Peter Mullan...whom I’d like to just read me stories with his deep, gravelly voice.

Dog... was good, but didn’t wow me as much as I thought it would. Mullan stars as Joseph, a rage-aholic who’s unable to control his temper (the film opens with repeatedly kicking his dog, whom he later puts out of its mortal-wound misery), and I actually wanted to see more of this particular story because it ended at a various interesting point. Alas.

I also enjoyed:

* Hot Dog (7/8), animator Bill Plympton’s offering about a bulldog who wants to be part of a fire department

and

* the eco-centric Journey to the Forest (7/8), an experimental film examining the issue of clear-cutting.

And then I called it a day. Tomorrow’s the last day of the fest, and I think I only have one screening...maybe two if I can squeeze a second one in. And STILL no Myrocia. This makes me sad.

Total films screened today: 27.

1 comment:

LA Shorts Fest said...

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