CAJA
2:01 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

15 Short Film Festival Impresses

The 2013 15 Short Film Festival was held this past Sunday at the Evening Muse in NoDa.  More than 1,500 short films (films 15 minutes or less) were submitted from around the world.  Of them, 28 were selected. Craig Elmore wrote  this review for WFAE as part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance:

Film festivals like this one are important for up-and-coming filmmakers. It gives them a chance to have an audience, and gives audiences a chance to see these filmmakers before they hit it big.  The bar atmosphere also makes the event more accessible for people who may not be film buffs but just want to check out something different instead of watching another football game on TV.  

The films were divided into five categories: Comedy, Documentary, Narrative, Animation, and the aptly titled Something Different.  Each category had its standouts. 

The festival kicked off with Comedy.  The parents in attendance related to Do I Have To Take Care Of Everything (Finland) about a wife/mother trying to get her slow moving, sloppy family to a wedding on time.  Studio comedies often make less money than other genres because comedy is difficult to “travel” to different countries and cultures but Do I Have To overcame that because its universal story made everyone laugh.

The Documentary Caine’s Arcade (United States) melted everyone’s heart.  It’s the story of a creative 9-year-old boy named Caine who created his own arcade with cardboard boxes at his father’s auto parts store in Los Angeles.  One-day filmmaker Nirvan Mullick stumbled upon Caine’s Arcade and made a documentary about it.  It’s a fantastic story about imagination and community.  Mullick also made a sequel, Caine’s Arcade 2: From a Movie to a Movement

The Something Different category gave exactly what was advertised.  How to Train Your Robot (Poland) was about a man training a robot to box.  ZZZZZZZ (United States) is about a man who may be dreaming of his dream girl.  Chopper (Netherlands) is a bit of a Rorschach test.  It’s a story involving animals and humans place on the food chain.  To me it was about the circle of life.  I have to admit this category was not my favorite but it showed me something that I wasn’t expecting which is what film festivals are supposed to do. 

The Narrative category was also a mixed bag.  The Exit Room (United States) seemed a little too violent for the crowd.  The Acrobat (Spain) was WAY to long, pretentious, and left people scratching their heads in a bad way.  Then there was Ina Litovski (Canada/Russia).  It’s the story of a young girl who wants her neglecting mother to come to her violin recital.  Though it’s a tough story to watch it was well very done.    

My personal favorite came from the Animation category.  Harald (Germany) is another great example how smart comedies can be universal.  It’s about a professional wrestler, Harald, who prefers flowers to fighting but is pressured to stay in the ring by his overbearing mother.  Steven Spielberg has said that if a movie is well made you can mute it and still understand what is happening.  Though Harald does have sound there is no dialogue except for Harald’s mother calling his name.  It’s funny, touching and has a surprise ending I didn’t see coming.         

The 15 Short Film Festival is great way to support the local arts in Charlotte.  It offers something new, different, and unexpected.  It’s a fun atmosphere and in the end it allows for the audience to participate with the Audience Award for Best Film, which ended in a tie between Caine’s Arcade and Harry Grows Up (United States), about a toddler looking for the love of his life. 

After graduating from Muhlenberg College with a communications degree, Craig returned home to Charlotte and worked at WBTV news before heading to Los Angeles to work in Hollywood.  Having worked on four films, including Nicholas Cage’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as post-production coordinator, Craig again returned to Charlotte to pursue writing.  You can read more of Craig's work at craigelmore.com.