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Shorts with Something to Say
by Marinell Haegelin

Sometimes a film has an added advantage that’s so intrinsic to the story’s theme, only in reflection is it obvious. Whether social interactions that are difficult to navigate, or experiences not yet encountered seeing a movie depicting those conditions adds awareness. It’s like reacting rather than responding, and sometimes that can make all the difference in easing through a rough patch.

In BUZZ, a perky robotic bumblebee finds a solution for safeguarding nature, and let’s be honest, its existence. As Buzz moves along on Mars his natural inclination is to offer his help. He won’t be dissuaded by others either. Which in turn means what little there is on Mars grows and blossoms. Director Bryn Chainey’s BUZZ animation is sans dialogue and with great visual storytelling that also encourages being bold and sticking to one’s principles. 9+, 10 minutes.

FINN’S HEEL (FINNS HIEL) is about two teenage boys and how a white lie widens their perspectives. When Finn twists his ankle in the boxing arena and hides from his uncompromising coach-dad in the toilet, Arthur helps. He hides the crutches and keeps his already quiet mouth shut. Finn’s adrenalin runs high, Arthur’s steadier. Unspoken pressures mount: when pushed, Arthur tells Finn they don’t have to hang out. Subsequently they talk from the heart and about families. When tested these two contrasting guys come to a middle ground. Director Cato Kusters’s sensitive coming-of-age story nicely highlights the pressures of male puberty, and acceptance that can lead to unexpected friendships. 14+, 18 minutes.

The magic of moviemaking couldn’t be better illustrated than in architect-cum-media and time-based artist Anna Vasof’s capriciously creative silent shortie, ISSUES WITH MY OTHER HALF. The title’s also a hint at the body horror subgenre. During twenty-three short, carefully constructed scenes her physicality is separated, distorted, reunited: limbs switched around, the face rearranged, head removed, various parts distorted. She then utilizes the body’s symbiotic relationship with material things. Humorous yet weirdly meaningful, e.g., her face is a Smartphone, i.e., she’s mechanicalized and dependent on objects. This topical, astonishing film’s message is clear: humans are losing themselves and their identities to things. (And AI [artificial intelligence] is waiting to pick up the pieces). 12+, 5 minutes.

CRAB (KRAB) invites viewers into the animal world that runs parallel to human life. It’s novel to experience life from a little five-legged crustacean’s perspective. Its stalked eyes swing continually between the knife, cutting board, other sea compatriots and vegetables as the ship pitches and rolls. Dancing out of danger, eventually Crab’s caught, trussed and ready. The fire’s lit under the pot, and… the sea churns, heaves beneath the table. In Crab’s new environment he sees the remains of his old.

Piotr Chmielwski, a stop-motion animation autodidact, wrote and directed CRAB. Wonderfully executed in woodcut-like style and thoughtfully told, Chmielwski’s story personalizes animals so audiences can share their experiences. It also emphasizes sticking to your goals and not giving up—fate may intervene. 12+, 8 minutes.

Cinematic lessons in living and about dealing with situations is a plus, to do so succinctly a godsend. Three of the four films are animations, a technique that has the capacity to easily expand illusive boundaries, and advance different positions relative to alternating viewpoints and situations. That’s the nice thing about living in the present, there’s always lots to look forward to learning.