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A Reflection of the Times
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

I will always find the Short film category to be an entertaining education as well as an adventure into unknown territories.  It is a reflection of current attitudes around the world and isn’t surprising that during this economic crunch the short films are flourishing. Many of the categories at the Berlinale this year have included short films in their programs. Even the Competition program had a selection of thirteen short films from famous directors among them Fatik Akin, Wolfgang Becker and Dani Levy just to name a few.  These films displayed an interesting point of view of Germany as a nation ranging from architecture to foreigners to the death of the traditional newspaper.
So how short or long can a short film be? Well the shortest film this year was a two-minute film entitled 16-18-4 by Tomonari Nishikawa.  The longest short film was in the children’s section entitled Bronx Princess by Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed and was 27 minutes long. We saw creativity and complex themes like in the film Vu by Leila Albayaty from Belgium. She starting off by writing music and poetry and later developed a film script. The story is about two sisters who try to connect on an Italian holiday after one of the sisters has had a car accident. It uses multi-layered imagery with circular sequencing, which makes this film seem more like an art performance piece. I spoke to Leila who explained that she found it hard to find someone to play the role of her sister; she then came up with the idea to use her real sister.  It took her four years to complete this film for which she received special mention for the shorts category.

The Irishman David O’Reilly has returned once again to become a winner of The Golden Bear for the shorts category.  His quirky computer animation Please say something explored failed relationships and set the audience off with laughter. He has a basic disregard for conventional animation, which gives his films a very unique style.  He explained that he has done a lot of failed animation but then this one worked out the way he wanted it. He also was apart of the Berlin talent campus and participated in a workshop to help others to learn about his techniques in computer animation filmmaking.

It was nice to meet a fellow American from California, Brian Harris Krinsky whose film Dish was based on his nephew.  This is a coming-of-age story for two gay boys, Israel and Louie who live in East L.A. When watching these two adolescents who spent most of their time text messaging to each other about their experiences and sexual desires, I realized how much modern technology has changed our communications style. A romantic moment has been reduced to text messaging and snapshots taken by a mobile phone, which seem so foreign and unromantic to me, but then again what do I know.

My all time favorite film was from Signe Baumane whose work I have seen before here at the Berlinale. She has made a series of animation films about sex and dental visits. This time she decided to focus on teenager pregnancy. Birth shows a teenager trying to find out what happens when you give birth and is only confronted with frightening stories from older women. Baumane has been to several of the Berlinale film festivals and is well organized handing out post cards with her website address where you can view some of her shorts as well as purchase a DVD of them.  She also sells postcards.  Due to her theme she specifically warns people not show them to their children.  Why that you may ask?  Well she has a killer sense of humor, which evolves around the subject of sex.  When asked how long it took her to make this film she answered, “Nine months of course!”  Check out her website for a good laugh: