I mentioned yesterday that Calgary Underground hosted two strong shorts programmes last week. I was lucky to be there for both and was really impressed by the range on display from filmmakers around the world. Here were some of my faves.
The debut short film from YouTube personality Nathan Barnatt was really solid. I met him on the shuttle (Thanks again Gillian!) from the airport and he was really excited to be there. He was worried that his twenty-two minute effort Neutral was going to bore his audience, but I found it very engaging. Being a writer, I really enjoy dialogue driven shorts, this one being largely two characters (played by Barnatt & Phoebe Neidhardt) stranded in the desert.
The short that played right after mine was a great little creeper from Calgary filmmaker Robert Cuffley called Penny Whistle. I got a definite It Follows vibe from this one. A lot of this short was riding of the performance of his young lead and she effortlessly handled some difficult material. That is no small feat considering as I've seen a lot of promising works derailed by weak kid actors.
Perhaps the most intense short I saw was Mother from Spaniard Rodrigo Sorogoyen. If memory serves, this was mostly one long take and involves an increasingly frantic phone call between a mother and her young son.
On the comedy side of things, there was John F. Beach & Jonathan Hoeg's The Accomplice. This was a great idea that I'm surprised I hadn't seen before and included a random appearance from Evan Peters - coincidental considering I watched American Animals a few hours later.
I was happy to see Clarissa Jacobson & JM Logan's short film Lunch Ladies at CUFF. We previously programmed it at HXFF, but this was my first time seeing it on the big screen. It's over-the-top and bombastic (imagine if John Waters & Lloyd Kaufman had a baby) and deserves an audience.
Tops in my book though would have to be Thursday Night from Portuguese director Gonçalo Almeida. This is a moody, atmospheric piece with no dialogue - mainly because the two leads are dogs! I like to call this short “The Shaggy Dog Runs At Night” because if David Lynch decided to add canines to his repertoire, this might be what it would look like. A dark and beautiful piece of work.
A crazy good start to the year I'd say and I've now got a handful of shorts to follow up on for Little Terrors.