By Robert BellWhile it may seem somewhat gauche and unrefined to target a program titled Celebrity Shorts at a short film festival loaded with works from filmmakers around the world using an economic medium to showcase their vision, it proves, year after year, to be one of the more intriguing and thoroughly engrossing collections. This year is no exception, featuring films with the likes of Gerard Depardieu, Stephen Fry and Jeremy Davies grieving over dead spouses, obsessively eating candy and engaging in anonymous internet sexcapades.
Starting out this collection of films is the documentary PS Your Mystery Sender, which details the many bizarre objects mailed to British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith over the years by fans familiar with the word-of-mouth trend of doing so. Essentially, people find creative ways to match the stamps to an object, sending it in the mail without packaging in as creative a manner as possible. And while interesting, it certainly doesn't reach the dramatic heights of White Other, wherein hospital nurse Imelda Staunton has a histrionic encounter with a distraught visitor whose path she's crossed many a time without verbalization.
This very serious short film is juxtaposed with the decidedly more light-hearted Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother, wherein a fully nude Tom Hardy trains for the French Foreign Legion. While slight and entertaining, it doesn't hold a candle to one of the standout shorts, Animal Love (not to be mistaken for the depressing and disturbing Ulrich Seidl documentary of the same name), which features Selma Blair and Jeremy Davies meeting for anonymous sex on the internet then bonding over animal allergies and a similar love of homegrown vegetables. With its Animal Collective soundtrack and passing moment plot, it seems sort of like something Sofia Coppola might have made in film school, which isn't a bad thing at all.
Winter Frog is a substantially more stoic and contemplative short, featuring a despondent Gerard Depardieu brooding over his dead wife when an unexpected visitor shows up. With its touching piano score and deliberate composition, this one is perfect for the emotional aesthete.
Less depressing is quirky British comedy An Act of Love, wherein Gina McKee arranges for her husband to inseminate her sister, with awkward and amusing results. Similarly pithy is Stephen Fry short Bunce, which details the friendship between a verbose, candy-eating young Fry and a meek, diffident follower.