We’re on the ground at the Palm Springs International Short Fest, our first in person film festival ever. ( cue confetti) ShortFest is the first all indoors film festival in California since COVID-19 hit, so it’s extra special to be in a theater with so many film aficionados.
As such, we want to get up close and personal with all of you and introduce you to our Palm Springs ShortFest Diaries! Every two days we’ll provide updates on the fest alongside some mini reviews on the short programs!
Day One: Let’s Do This
Heat emanates from the cement and the sky. It’s a hot(ish) afternoon and a line of people wait outside the Palm Springs Cultural Center, formerly named Camelot Theater. It’s small and cozy — a cool escape from the sun. The chatter inside is at a high and the atmosphere is both relaxed and excited. I’m ready for movies — it’s only been 494 days since I’ve been in an actual theater.
Here are some mini reviews on Opening Night Shortfest program!
David (2021) directed by Zach Woods
There is David the patient and David the son and both need help from Will Ferrel. When David sees his therapist, he is surprised by his son who is also named David. David (the son) is adamant on getting his dad to his wrestling match and he won’t take no for an answer. Effortlessly funny, this short feels so lived in and authentic. Plus, It was great seeing this film on the big screen after streaming it at home at Tribeca!
Snowy (2021) directed by Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis
This short follows a family’s mission to help out their depressed and lonely pet turtle. is One of the great things about this short is how it turns the mundane into comedy gold. A combination of great editing and great subjects makes this short a strange delight and joy to watch unfold on screen.
Break In (2020) directed by Alyssa Lerner
Nousha accidentally texts her crush erotic fiction that she wrote about her. She’ll do anything to erase the text. Anchored in great comedic timing and wit. This short does an excellent job at creating and maintaining a running gag in the form of Best Buy!
Just Hold On (2020) directed by Sam Davis, Rayka Zehtabchi
Marlie, a 7 year old girl, takes us into the world of Mutton Bustin’ and the way she has overcome adversity after spending the first few years of her life in the hospital. This film is a study in resilience. At it’s center — great cinematography and an even greater little girl.
Kuş (2020) directed by Çağatay Ulusoy
An aging and lonely fisherman gets the news that he has to amputate his leg. Later, he encounters a goldfinch with an injured wing. As he heals it back to health, the two create a bond mends more than just bones.
Our protagonist’s super expressive eyes stole the show. Entirely captivating, there is something between fondness and sadness for his new bird friend.
Don Vs Lightning (2021) directed by Big Red Button
Getting struck by lighting once just seems like bad luck. Getting struck a few more times? Seems like Thor has a grudge! The cosmically funny coincidence is lifted by Don’s grumpy deadpan humor and dialogue.
Day 2: Plot Twist…There’s Rain?
An overcast and rainy day in Palm Springs. Still hot, with the added bonus of *humidity*
On the Day Two Shortfest schedule was Brave New World! The program offered a selection of sci fi and dystopia adjacent shorts.
Freya (2020) directed by Camille Hollett-French
Jade’s life is controlled by Freya, her AI that keeps track of… well basically everything. Hookups, cavities, weight, messaging and more — Freya is there to catalogue and plan through it all. When a one night stand ends with unexpected results, Jade’s view on Freya drastically changes. As the world goes through an Amazon-fication ( looking at you Amazon Grocery Stores) the narrative in Freya does not seem too far off from reality. What sets this film apart from other similar pieces of media is the way it exposes the invasive-ness of technology through bodily autonomy.
Yoruga (2021) directed by Federico Torrado Tobón
I’m replacing dog as man’s best friend and immediately crowing turtles instead. Yoruga follows a elderly, lonesome man as he pays a quick visit to one of the last animals on Earth. The film’s warm hues helps emphasize how soothe-y and calming this encounter is for our protagonist. There was something distinctly bittersweet about this piece that felt very cathartic.
IEVA (2021) directed by Vytautas Plukas, Domas Petronis
Have you ever wondered about the life of a robot? In Ieva, a robot is taught basic physical movements, meets some curious dogs and more! One of the things I found interesting about this film is it’s lack of dialogue. As a viewer, we only hear the whir of gears, the murmur of people and the strong barking of dogs.
The Long Goodbye (2020) directed by Aneil Karia
In an alternate reality, people are rounded up in a British neighborhood and split up into black vans or killed. Through spoken word, Riz Ahmed unravels the emotions his has towards his country. The first half of this short eases us into the lull of family and community within a household. The second half twists the viewer away from this image. The spoken word portion of this short was an explosive release of feelings — both powerful and sobering at once.
Our Bed Is Green (2021) directed by Maggie Brennan
Cecily is a young woman with a secret. She visits Realm, a virtual reality space where people can create fantasy scenarios of people — both real and imagined. Bold and brilliant colors flood the screen to the beat of an incredible score.
Please Hold (2020) directed by KD Dávila
In a near future, Mateo Torres is wrongfully arrested in East LA by a police drone. Unable to get a hold of an actual human to resolve the mistake, Mateo is stuck in a jail cell until further notice. While this short is a genre piece, it is extremely important and relevant to what is happening today within prison systems globally. It’s upsetting to watch on screen, but even more so when compared to the real world. Wrongful arrests, forced plea deals, and a trapped system are all realities for many incarcerated folks today. So many are threatened and scared into a place of compliancy and passivity because of how helpless situations can become.
Everything ALL AT ONCE (2020) directed by Tamara Hardman
Australian teen Billie is 16 and anti “electrophobes” a device that people place on the back of their necks to combat negative feelings. When a bushfire getting closer and closer to her town, Billie begins to see the device in a different light. The outfits and makeup in this short are pure Y2K goodness. The short poses a lot fo interesting questions around emotions, healing, and peer pressure.