Silverdocs – STERLING SHORT COMPETITION
Short films, like short stories, are a too often overlooked genre of art, expression and information. Silverdocs 2010 continues its tradition of offering up some of the best short documentaries from around the globe. Compressing all of the impact of their longer form brethren into just a few moments, these films – poems to longer films novels – often create an explosion of exhileration, recognition or understanding.
Short Film Jury: Ben Fowlie, Founding Director, Camden International Film Festival; Elena Fortes, Director, Ambulante Documentary Film Festival; Aron Gaudet, Filmmaker (THE WAY WE GET BY)
Note the FREE noontime shorts screenings, Tue 6/22 – Fri 6/25.
Click on the film titles to learn more and buy tickets…
ALBERT’S WINTER / Denmark, 2009, 30 minutes (Director: Andreas Koefad)—A young boy struggles to deal with his mother’s devastating terminal cancer. As the illness lingers unspoken in the background, Albert goes through the motions of his day-to-day life but knows that something is terribly wrong.
ARIRANG – LETTER TO BARACK / Germany/North Korea, 2010, 8 minutes (Director: Gerd Conradt)—The world appears very different from inside the hermit kingdom of North Korea. Huge mosaics created by one hundred thousand schoolchildren holding aloft colored cards in unison are a source of national pride, but so is the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. Pageantry and atomic blasts are juxtaposed in this chilling thought piece.
ARSY-VERSY / Slovakia, 2009, 24 minutes (Director Miro Remo)—Lubos is a happy-go-lucky 50-something who lives with his aging mother in what some would call a codependent relationship. The film takes a unique look at a mother-son relationship and the way in which Lubos lives his free-spirited life, like the title says, upside down.
BETWEEN DREAMS / Finland/France/Russian Federation, 2009, 11 minutes (Director: Iris Olsson)—A hundred souls lost in dreams in the dead of night cross a Siberian moonscape aboard a battered Russian train. A fortunate few dream happily and carefree, but most toss uneasily, gripped by fears for the future or guilt about the past.
BIG BIRDING DAY / USA, 2010, 13 minutes (Director: David Wilson)—Competitive bird watching comes alive in this delightful short. As three friends attempt to catch a glimpse of as many species as possible within the course of 24 hours, the special camaraderie that emerges between friends who enjoy the rituals of a unique hobby together is highlighted.
BORN SWEET / USA/Cambodia, 2010, 28 minutes (Director: Cynthia Wade)—Vinh, a rural Cambodian teen, dreams of falling in love, moving to the city and becoming a karaoke star. Alas, for Vinh and the millions of other children worldwide suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning, even reaching adulthood is a dream in doubt.
BYE BYE NOW / Ireland, 2009, 15 minutes (Director: Aideen O’Sullivan)—The film offers a charming look at the gradual disappearance of phone booths in Ireland. With the advent of modern technology, the phone booth has all but vanished all over the world. In a loving tribute to this soon-to-be relic of the past, the film is a nostalgic reminder of yesteryear.
CORNER PLOT / USA, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Ian Cook)—In this heart-warming short, 89-year-old Charlie Koiner cares for a one-acre piece of farmland that rests just outside urban Washington, D.C. With help from his daughter, Charlie works the land and shares his crops at the local farmer’s market. In a rapidly changing modern world, this unique farmer remains dedicated to the life he has always known.
THE DARKNESS OF DAY / USA, 2009, 25 minutes (Director: Jay Rosenblatt)—This moving and thought-provoking meditation on depression and suicide stretches the boundaries of “documentary.” Built from found footage, and using both biographical details from Rosenblatt’s life and readings from a journal of someone who committed suicide, the film gently spurs you to ask exactly what it aims to document.
THE FAUX REAL / USA, 2010, 21 minutes (Director: Suzanne Hillinger)—This engaging short documentary introduces three biologically born females who identify as drag queens. Challenging traditional ideas of gender and drag, these unconventional women don wigs, false eyelashes, heavy makeup and chokers to perform burlesque as hyper-real representations of femme.
FLAWED / Canada, 2010, 12 minutes Director: (Andrea Dorfman)—Unfolding like a graphic novel, director and artist Andrea Dorfman illustrates her way through her unlikely pairing with a cosmetic surgeon. This animated short is a lovely meditation on falling in love, when the most trying battle is the one fought between the heart’s desires and the mind’s insecurities.
FOUND / Canada, 2009, 6 minutes (Director: Paramita Nath)—For Laotian-Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, a discarded scrapbook sheds light on a harsh infancy in Southeast Asia emphasizing how family memory is often an aggregation of disparate pieces.
THE HERD / Ireland, 2008, 4 minutes (Director: Ken Wardrop)—One of these things is not like the other. But don’t tell that to the newest addition to the cow herd on the filmmaker’s family farm. When a little fawn finds herself out of place amid the sole company of cows, she attempts to fit in unnoticed. Can she succeed?
HOLDING STILL / Germany/USA, 2010, 26 minutes (Director: Florian Riegel)—Imagine if the last 20 years of your life were lived entirely in one room, yet you have the ability to see and photograph the world outside. This is the story of Janis, a woman whose artistic voice is remarkably unconstrained by physical obstacles or tragedies in her past.
THE HOUSEKEEPER / Scotland, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Tali Yankelevich)—The care bestowed on a venerable priest by his elderly Greek housekeeper may at first blush appear to be all in a day’s work, but beneath the surface flow strong currents of platonic love and mutual need.
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK / Ireland, 2009, 12 minutes (Director: Anna Rodgers)— This haunting and visually stunning short film explores several desolate and abandoned psychiatric hospitals throughout Ireland. The voices of former long-term patients permeate the corridors, still struggling to understand the circumstances that brought them there.
I’M JUST ANNEKE / USA, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Jonathan Skurnik)—Anneke is a 12-year-old girl who has begun taking a hormone blocker so that she can delay puberty to ultimately decide for herself whether or not she wants to grow up as a woman or a man. This thought-provoking film brings to light the choices of a new generation facing gender identity issues with remarkable sensitivity and respect.
KEEP DANCING / USA, 2010, 21 minutes (Director: Greg Vander Veer)—Well into their ninth decade of life, dance icon Marge Champion and Tony-winning choreographer Donald Saddler became fast friends while performing in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies. Now 90, the two continue to rehearse and choreograph original work, revealing a passion for dance undimmed by the passage of time.
LAST ADDRESS / USA, 2009, 9 minutes (Director: Ira Sachs)—A series of exterior shots of buildings all have one thing in common: they were the last residential addresses of some of New York’s most prominent artists who lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses. This simple yet poignant short film is an elegant tribute to those remarkable people whose voices were silenced much too soon.
LIES / Sweden, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Jonas Odell)—With playful animation and lively narration, three people share their individual stories of lying, and the surprising consequences of their deception.
LISTENING TO THE SILENCES / UK, 2009, 11 minutes (Director: Pedro Flores)—What does it feel like to hear voices inside your head? Roy Vincent attempts to explain. Living alone on the isolated countryside, Vincent’s battle with mental illness is a daily struggle. This quiet, penetrating film presents a sympathetic portrait of a man accepting his inner demons.
MARIA’S WAY / Scotland/Spain, 2009, 15 minutes (Director: Anne Milne)—A feisty elderly woman’s sole purpose in life appears to be setting up an isolated roadside stand along the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrim route. A seemingly mundane daily task soon evolves into a humorous and charming observation on the importance of purpose, commitment and tradition.
MISSED CONNECTIONS / USA, 2010, 9 minutes (Director: Mary Robertson)—This delightful film is an amuse-bouche for anyone who has ever perused the “Missed Connections” section of the classifieds in the hope they will recognize themselves as the “missed connection” in question.
A MOTH IN SPRING / USA/Canada, 2010, 26 minutes (Director: Yu Gu)—While attempting to produce a film in China inspired by her parents’ involvement with the Student Democracy Movement of the 1980s, a young filmmaker’s life and work quickly begin to parallel her parents’ trials and alienation when the film is shut down and she is ordered to leave the country.
MRS. BIRKS’ SUNDAY ROAST / UK, 2009, 6 minutes (Director: Kyoko Miyake)—This beautifully shot slice-of-life short introduces Mrs. Fukio Birks, a Japanese woman living in England with her British husband. Embracing the new life she has created, Mrs. Birks dedicates herself to embracing English culture—beginning with its cuisine. As she prepares a delectable English Sunday dinner, Mrs. Birks shares her thoughts on cooking, home, culture and family.
NOTES ON THE OTHER / Spain, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Sergio Oksman)—Ostensibly about Ernest Hemingway, this intriguing short is more a meditation on reality and simulation—like a Baudrillard lecture, except more fun. Contrasting Hemingway with his impersonators in Key West, the film questions the writer’s account of the running of the bulls, moving quickly to challenging the concept of the Real.
ON THE RUN WITH ABDUL / UK/France, 2009, 24 Minutes (Directors: James Newton, Kristian Hove Sorensen and David Lalé)—When sixteen year old Abdul’s life is suddenly in jeopardy because of his involvement with a film on refugees, the filmmakers take it upon themselves to protect the boy. Exploring the delicate balance of how involved documentarians should become with their subjects, the film is a remarkable reassessment on the craft of non-fiction filmmaking.
OVERNIGHT STAY / USA, 2009, 9 minutes (Director: Daniela Sherer)—Using hand-drawn animation, the film illustrates an 83-year-old woman’s vivid memory of an event during World War II that likely saved her life when she was a young girl. On a cold night in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1941, she was taken in by strangers and given a place to sleep.
PARA FUERA: PORTRAIT OF DR. RICHARD J. BING / USA, 2010, 9 minutes (Director: Nicholas Jasenovec)—How could a centenarian who is an accomplished doctor and musician sum up the totality of experiences in his life in one word? Dr. Richard Bing is able to do so—and along the way you will learn what motivated and assisted him in living his challenging yet charmed life.
PLASTIC AND GLASS / France, 2009, 9 minutes (Director: Tessa Joosse)—In a recycling factory in the north of France, workers settle into the daily grind of reprocessing plastic and glass. In an effort to transcend the routine, the workers playfully adapt the steady rhythm of the machines into a melody for a song and dance.
THE POODLE TRAINER / USA/Russia, 2009, 8 minutes (Director: Vance Malone)—Irina Markova is a Russian poodle trainer who has dedicated her life to training her 20 colorfully costumed poodles to perform clever acrobatic tricks. Fueled by a childhood tragedy that sparked a fierce desire to avoid people, Markova welcomes the solace of her animals and the isolation she finds behind the red velvet curtain of the circus.
PRAYERS FOR PEACE / USA, 2009, 8 minutes (Director: Dustin Grella)—Through the use of stop-motion animation, a man reflects on the memory of his younger brother, recently killed in Iraq. This deeply personal film offers an elegant introspection about a brother and soldier whose loss is deeply felt by those who loved him.
QUADRANGLE / USA, 2010, 20 minutes (Director: Amy Grappell)—In the ’70s, two “conventional” couples embark on a most unconventional arrangement when they attempt to ward off marital ennui by swapping partners. Moving into the same home, merging families, sharing in a group marriage, can this four-way affair ever work?
SELTZER WORKS / USA, 2010, 7 minutes (Director: Jessica Edwards)—New York’s last seltzer bottler makes for a refreshing subject in this effervescent look at a tradesman who refuses to compromise on taste while facing the inevitable decline of a dying commercial tradition.
THE SPACE YOU LEAVE / UK, 2009, 10 minutes (Director: James Newton)—Thoughts of their long-vanished children are never far off for several British parents whose lives seem all but consumed by overarching loss. The daunting impact of an estimated 200,000 annual disappearances in the UK is brought to scale in three gripping portraits of lives now defined by the presence of absence.
THEY ARE GIANTS / Netherlands, 2009, 13 minutes (Director: Koert Davidse)—The Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor is a breathtakingly beautiful old world library filled with hand-crafted leather tomes nestled in exquisite mahogany bookcases. No human has ever walked its halls, climbed its stairs, or sat at its tables because this library is no more than eight feet long and four feet high; its books no taller than your little finger.
THIS CHAIR IS NOT ME /UK, 2010, 10 minutes (Director: Andy Taylor Smith)—While cerebral palsy confines Alan Martin to a wheelchair and inhibits his speech, he refuses to limit himself. When he gains access to technology that enables him to find a voice, his life is transformed. Utilizing stunning visual vocabulary and subtle re-enactment, the film presents a cinematic experience as unique as the subject himself.
TRASH-OUT / USA, 6 minutes (Director: Maria Fortiz-Morse)—This deeply affecting and simple short shows workers cleaning out a house that has been foreclosed upon. What do the things left behind say about a family? What does an empty house that was once a home say? In a mere six minutes, TRASH-OUT makes a poignant statement on a timely subject.
UNEARTHING THE PEN / UK/Uganda, 2009, 12 minutes (Director: Carol Salter)— Beautifully photographed, this film poignantly tells the story of a young Ugandan boy’s desperate desire for an education in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds: most daunting is the possibility that the symbolic burying of a pen decades earlier by tribal elders has resulted in a curse on formal education.
THE VEIL / Italy, 2009, 18 minutes (Director: Mattia Colombo)—A young postulant prepares to enter the convent. Older nuns go about their quotidian routines. This intimate portrait of Franciscan sisters in a small Venetian convent reveals the vibrant lives played out beneath the subdued cloth of their vocation.
WORLD CHAMPION / Estonia, 2009, 35 minutes (Director: Moonika Siimets)—Eighty-two-year-old Herbert Sepp is a man’s man. He works out, he speaks his mind, and he knows what he wants in life: a world masters title in pole vaulting. For him, it’s all about the run, the plant… and the very, very short amount of time in the air.