Spotlight on Italy 1

Spotlight on Italy 1
Seeing as this is the 150th unification anniversary for Italy, it's appropriate that they would be recognized as the spotlight country for this year's Worldwide Shorts Festival, especially considering their long-standing tradition of ushering in new film styles and trends over the last century. To boot, this program actually features some of the better titles at this year's festival, which is just icing on the cake.

The program opens with the brief animated short, B/W Races, which, appropriately, is about black & white cut-out car races. Fun and peppy, this film leads well into Gypsy Fairytale, wherein a baby born to gypsy parents has the gift of levitating. Floating above her parents, she pees on the dinner table and remains indoors for fear of floating off, until one fateful day when her parents concoct a plan to weight her down.

Gardens of Light goes the route of visual wonderment, featuring a clashing of lights, fireworks and images, relying on aesthetic, much like The Slow Game, which looks like a Calvin Klein ad revolving around rugby. Falling continues this trend of visual over narrative, following two bodies floating through a black void.

Clown Heart brings things back to a narrative place, following the hijacking of a bride from her surly, controlling fiancé by a sad, failed clown. It's fun, if sloppy, unlike Rita, which is a far more carefully assembled short film about a young blind girl dealing with a violent home invader. Thoughtfully shot and exceedingly tense, the only barrier in this film is the fact that the young actress can't really act.

Decidedly more light-hearted is Beach Body, a short that plays out like a slow motion Caribbean cruise advertisement, with a bunch of vacuous, gym-bodied cogs sitting around a pool, only to turn on itself when people stop sucking it in. It's a nice diversion leading up to the standout short of the program, 41, where a man discovers that a museum audio guide can tell the life history and future of anyone he addresses.