The Milwaukee Film Festival (http://mkefilm.org) features a Shorter is Better program, which groups a selection of short films into categories for differing moods and occasions. Thursday, Oct. 3 was the final screening of "Shorts: Modern Families", which features short films touching on different kinds of families and their many circumstances. This final screening took place at 10 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre.
"Shorts: Modern Families" began with short Finnish comedy "Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?". Selma Vihunen's short film takes a light-hearted look at the Ketinan family's hectic life and how it can mess with their heads. This short film is set in such a way that makes it highly relateable (particularly for mothers), while turning stress into a comical situation.
The next film, "Mobile Homes", is about as different from "Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?" as it gets. Vladimir de Fontenay's short film is a gritty drama that follows a single mother who struggles to keep herself and her son on their feet. Vladimir de Fontenay uses minimal dialogue and artful editorial techniques to tell this family's story, which takes a surprising turn both on their fate and roles in the family.
A short comedy from New Zealand followed, entitled "Dotty." This heart-warming comedy about a woman teaching an elderly nursing home resident how to send a text message. Directors Mick Andrews and Brett O'Gordman humorously convey time lagging on during the lesson through an elderly man talking a walk outside the building, but the plot takes a quick turn for the sentimental in a show of unconditional love and commitment.
French short drama "Anna and Jerome" followed, telling the story of a mother who must steal time to spend with her son. There is no background provided to the viewer, so they are left to their imagination to fill in the blanks of the mother's past and why she must sneak around to spend him with her child. Melanie Delloye's short differs some of the other family stories is one of mother who desperately tries to have a relationship with her son when she isn't supposed to, and the bond the two have despite the circumstances.
The most important thing is not to give up. You must never give up!"
Directors Dan Lindsay/T.J. Martin's "My Favorite Picture of You" and Asa Blanck/Johan Palmgren's "Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven" followed "Anna and Jerome" with incredible familial sentiment. "My Favorite Picture of You" is a flash of black and white pictures of a couple throughout the ages as a voiceover of the couple narrates. One of the shorter films the "Modern Families" shorts, this film is merely a conversation between an old couple as they reminisce over past times and recall the details of their past years together. While very simple in concept, the film captures the essence of a happily married couple that has stayed together throughout the years.
It's kind of fun to go back and talk about where we've been.
"Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven" is a short documentary depicting the relationship between a young boy and his bedridden grandfather. The film is primarily footage of the two towards the end of the grandfather's life, but there are also shots of old photographs of the two throughout the years. The film completely surrounds the pair, their conversations, and their experiences together in daily life. While this short film has some powerfully sad moments, the overall tone is that of celebration and continuation of the grandfather's legacy within the family as he and his grandson teach, help, and love each other through their incredible bond.
Igor Coric & Sheldon Lieberman's "Mud Crab" followed "Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven" as the first and only animated film in the group of shorts. This humorous, adorable short film is simply about a man who takes home a mud crab, and his son's enthusiasm that follows as they set to move it to the freezer. Coric and Lieberman to an excellent job of using primitive drawings depicting a very basic event and turning it into an example of how tiring and difficult children can be towards their parents, while still making life a little funnier as well.
"Shorts: Modern Families" ended with American comedy, "F**k the Parents." Ethan Kuperberg's short film explores and exaggerated look at the impact of romantic relationships on the couple's family members. This film could easily have been included in the "Shorts: Date Night" program, but there are also elements of family and hilarious, unexpected turns that make it a good choice for a closing film.