As the Atlanta Film Festival describes these shorts, "Though these films exhibit great art and storytelling, violence, taboo behavior, and bodily fluids are just some of the reasons that make these films hard to watch. You have been warned. These films are not for the faint of heart." Fortunately I psyched myself out and went to the screening and stomached the idea... for the most part. It was unfortunate the comedy shorts and Big Font. Small Spacing ran over time and the screenings for "Firstborn (Eersgeborene)" and "Spoiler" were missed, but the rest of the collection was seen and enjoyed for the most part.
Directed by Joseph Ernst
This is probably one of the most avant-garde and intriguing pieces of the festival. This Stan Brakhage-esque short is a series of actions taking place inside a mouth over a five year period of time in various European countries. The "feeder" is seen eating cereal, smoking cigarettes, drinking liquids, enjoying a cheeseburger, kissing someone, and a couple other surprises. The tagline of the short is "A short film that will make you feel sick." That is a catchy tagline, but what is more appropriate to say with its actual content is if you ever wondered what's really going into your one of two openings, now is your chance. Feeder will be available on DVD toward the end of the year. See the trailer to Feeder below.
Directed by Lars p Arendt
Danish with English subtitles
Taking place on a secluded farmhouse, Benjamin nears a breaking point under his abusive father when he witnesses him strike his mother. He takes the situation into his own hands when he holds his father's puppy hostage. Out of the four films, this was the most disturbing film for a couple reasons. First is the realistic depiction of domestic abuse. It very convincing to say this is not a movie, but it very much is a fictitious film. Secondly is hostage scene between Benjamin, his father, and his father's puppy. That is all I will say about that scene. In the end, Beast was a very intense 15 minutes and is recommended if you could just say to yourself 'it's only a movie.'
Ricky Riggs: The Story of a Block Bitch
Directed by: Noah Barrow
Illustrations by: Ariel Zucker-Brull
It has been brought to the attention of the audience from the director Noah Barrow, who was in attendance at the screening, that prison rape is very much a problem. His film brilliantly yet disturbingly illustrates that problem while also weaving in the physical and emotional pain Ricky goes through. Barrow, also narrating the film (even though it sounds like Steve Buscemi), really gives his audience a different perspective of prison. The original music score is another plus to this gritty piece - especially the use of the theremin. The film format takes some getting used to (still illustrations), but it works well with the storytelling. Since this film is not recommended for everyone, the trailer may be viewed here.
Directed by: Roberto de Feo and Vito Palumbo
Italian with English subtitles
Out of the four short films seen, this is the least memorable. Based on a true story, a shy young man named Mickey stops at a cafe to buy an ice cream for his girlfriend. In the cafe are two bullies named Brando and Alex, who eventually hijack Mickey's car and take him to the last place he'll ever see. The cinematography and the 'look' are very well-done. However, this movie doesn't work for a couple reasons. One, more information needs to be brought to the viewer's attention before the "big twist" occurs to fill the plot holes. Two, the reasoning behind the condition of the attacker(s) was hinted at the end, but not to the point of full explanation, which it needed. One would argue that's the 'ambiguity' of the ending, but it's not the case for this type of story. Something needs to be said verbally, non-verbally through flashbacks, or come up with a different direction.