Published May 31, 2011More consistent than anything relating to voyeurism or playing witness is that of idiosyncrasy and distress, as most of these shorts have something to do with dire situations where the threat of physical injury is either imminent or has passed.
The opening arty short in this pack is The Circus, wherein a young boy struggles to get through a hospital room full of people to touch his dying mother's hand. It's French, so the animation is deliberately oblique and alienating, which is almost preferable to the mostly incoherent Greek testament to familial struggle, Ketchup, which features bickering relatives and spilled tomatoes.
The animated Marvin starts out as a parable about difference, featuring a boy born with a hole in his head, but turns into a weirdly irresponsible allegory about the freeing nature of going insane every once in awhile once the titular boy sneezes out a chunk of his brain. It's decidedly more light-hearted than It is Nothing, given that this French-Canadian melodrama features a father raging over the molestation of his little girl. Well-acted and certainly disturbing, this somber title is an excellent counterpart to the simultaneously depressing and uplifting documentary, This Chair is Not Me, which features a man with cerebral palsy coping with life in a chair.
Boss of Me is exceedingly more light-hearted, playfully juxtaposing the life of a kindergarten teacher/husband and his hit woman wife, which should lift audience spirits enough to endure the dreadfully executed alien impersonation short, The Kook.
Projections is some crappy, pretentious drug trip with a bunch of flashing colours, while Sleepless Night rounds out the program on a high note, detailing a rescue patrol's mission to save stranded mountaineers. High production values and sufficiently tense direction make this Belgian import a festival must-see.