Picture is Up!

Picture is Up!
With any serious film festival there comes a degree of self-reflection. After watching roughly 12 hours of films featured at the Worldwide Short Film Festival, this reviewer is ready for any bout of reflection.

"Us (Nous)" illustrates a chilling tale of a dead man, told through the Super-8 camera lens of the deceased. A detective dictates into his recorder the desolate state the body was found in, his narration juxtaposed against the Super-8 film found in the apartment. As with the theme of personal history explored in the You Can't Take It With You program, "Us" is a genuinely sad and disturbing tale of giving up on life, even as the happiest moments are endlessly replayable.

"Just a Pitch" runs a bit too long for its joke of an Indian man trying to pitch his screenplay. Almost resembling a Slumdog Millionaire parody — production dates are too close to tell if this is intentional — the timid writer is forced to "sell" his script to the customs guards before he can pitch it to a studio. The story plays with the same melodramatic good humour fuelling the best of Bollywood.

"I Knew It Was You" is certain to be a hit with any cinemaphile. A 40-minute documentary on the career of acclaimed character actor John Cazale, it's the centrepiece of the Picture program. The HBO-produced documentary showcases interviews with those who worked with the man on the five Best Picture-nominated films he co-starred in (including his Godfather team-mates Al Pacino and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as his The Deer Hunter co-star and girlfriend at the time Meryl Streep).

Slickly produced by Hollywood hack Brett Ratner (Red Dragon), the short is a loving tribute to one of the most curious character actors of the '70s and how his magic touch helped shaped some of the greatest films ever produced. How fitting that a short film works as the ultimate tribute to an actor who knew how to step to the sidelines better than anyone.