Short Rounds is a biweekly column dedicated to spreading the love of short film. Every other Wednesday we'll curate a number of flicks around a theme, from current film festivals to whatever is in the air. You know you've got the time.
It can take an absurdly small teaser -- a string of images that says almost nothing at all -- to remind us just how interesting even the smallest increments of cinema can and should be. No one knows that better than the crew at the annual Filminute online film festival, a month-long international online film festival, featuring 25 of the year’s best shorts with running times of 60 seconds or fewer. The films (many of which are comedies) are hosted at www.filminute.com for the whole month of September, where you can also vote for your favorite of the bunch to win the People’s Choice Award.
Here are five that I think rise above the rest, though by all means go back to the site and watch them all – you know you’ve got the time.
Chop Chop, by Ant Blades
A prime example of how useful animation is for joke-telling, Chop Chop is a period-set guillotine gag that spoofs swashbuckling epics in the spirit of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The music and the animation work effortlessly to set up one of the best punch lines in this year’s lineup.
Candy Crime, by Ben Jacobsen
We are all familiar with schoolyard bullying scenes, in this particular case a group of older boys picking on a little girl with a lollipop. Yet, of course, it doesn’t quite turn out as we might expect. The film is predominantly in black and white, with only the pink candy itself standing out.
Indian Mystery, by Christian Fischer
In a way, Indian Mystery is a more complex title than even one might think. One cannot solve the mystery by watching the film, because this enigmatic minute of cinema doesn’t even tell us what the mystery is. The vague images, blurred and faded to suggest distance both physical and temporal, betray almost nothing about this trip to India.
M/W 9/11, by James Kelly
M/W 9/11 is, very clearly, a small-scale story of love and devotion in the context of the World Trade Center attacks. A man, alone in his office, gets caught up in the panic of evacuation. Yet he runs farther upstairs, against the human current, to find a woman. The quiet, almost counterintuitive piano score adds a touch of poignancy.
Sarina, by Tara Fallaux and Stijn Ghijsen
The following documentary short, a brief glimpse into the soul of a retired ballerina, is a charming portrait of a woman and her memories. At 81 years old she still has the poise of a young dancer, and her grace is only complemented by her age. It’s a shame there aren’t more documentaries in this year’s Filminute, but Sarina stands up quite well on its own.