DIFF 2015 – Short Film Showcase

The Dallas International Film Festival starts tomorrow evening and runs through Sunday April 19th.  The ninth annual festival highlights 11 days and nights of quality film.  A lot of fine folks have already given their top must-see film picks and we agree with a majority of them.  But most of the films that are being showcased will have life beyond the festival.  Short films are different, they don't necessarily have the legs of feature films. So please click through for a look at the wonderful Shorts programs at DIFF 2015.

Chris McInroy's hilarious short Bad Guy #2 is just one of the many gems found in DIFF's numerous short film programs.  I've had the wonderful honor to cover DIFF since it was AFI Dallas and anytime anyone ever asks what they should see at the festival I always have the same response. 

Make sure you catch 1 or all of the short film programs.  This year's festival is no different.  I'll break down the programs and competitions by giving you 3 shorts from each category that stood out to me.

All shorts are at the Angelika Film Center Dallas.

Animated Shorts Competition – Sunday April 12 – 5:15 & Monday April 13 – 10pm.

This year's program has shorts from the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea (via France), and of course a good group of American choices.  In total there are 8 films that are in the competition for the Grand Jury Prize which will be announced during the second week of the festival.  Here are the 3 films I really enjoyed.

3.  Man On The Chair – Dir. Dahee Jeong – France/South Korea – 7 min. 

Director and Animator Dahee Jeong brings forth a thought provoking look at a man's mental battle with reality.  The animation is crisp and well layered.  A short that really makes you look at the big picture while understanding sometimes you only need to sit in a chair and think about life to appreciate it's complex nature. 

2.  Timber – Dir. Nils Hedinger – Switzerland – 6 min. 

In 6 minutes Nils Hedinger gives us a amazing story of survival.  Which tree limb will make it!?!?!

1.  The Raven – Dir. Limbert Fabian & Brandon Oldenburg – USA – 10 min. 

Moonbot studios tackles the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem with a stunning visual style.   The short is dark, poetic and striking.

ravenStill-1    ravenStill-3

The Shorts Program Competition is broken up into 5 categories and the winner will receive a Grand Jury Prize at DFS Honors.  The categories are Late Night, Documentary, Shorts 1, 2 and 3. 

Late Night Shorts – Friday April 10th, 10:30pm & Saturday April 11th, 11pm

Horror is another word that can be used when thinking of Late Night.  This group of 8 short films is a great mixture of funny and scary ideas.  There is also a good number of animated shorts and one in particular that made my top 3.

3.  Knock Knock – Dir. Jeff Betancourt – USA – 13 min. 

This SXSW and TIFF official selection is sexy, funny and in the end pretty damn scary.

2.  Teeth – Dir. Daniel Gray & Tom Brown – UK/Hungary/USA – 6 min.

A haunting voice over by Richard E. Grant sets the stage for this visual masterpiece.  A horrific animated look at one man's life long journey for the perfect set of teeth.

1.  Bad Guy # 2 – Dir. Chris McInroy – USA – 10 min.

The trailer at the top of this post highlights the amazing amount of blood used in this short film.  I laughed and laughed with each and every crazy killing.  Perfectly fun horror short that shows the rather corporate structure of organized crime.  Austin based Bear Media is a group to keep an eye on.

ChrisMcInroy_Headshot   BadGuy_2_Bad Guy _2 cries when he chainsaws bodies

Documentary Shorts –  Wednesday April 15th, 4:30pm & Thursday April 16th, 10pm

If DIFF does anything else really well its programing documentaries.  If I had made a list of features to catch at least half would have been documentaries.  So this shorts category has a lot to live up to.  And luckily the 6 short films do live up to the quality feature film docs coming to DIFF this year.  Here are my 3 favorite short docs.

3. Cast In India – Dir. Natasha Raheja – India/USA – 26 min.

Where do all of the manhole covers in NYC come from?  Cast In India gives us that answer.

2.  Marcela and Rock (from THE AND series) – Dir. Topaz Adizes – USA – 12 min.

Topaz Adizes gives us a really open look at the power of honesty in relationships.  I feel like every couple should go through this type of treatment. 

1.  Master Hoa's Requiem – Dir. Scott Edwards – USA – 18 min.

Heartbreaking story of a man's search for his long lost family.  Easily the one short film that had me in tears throughout.  Simply this short film is powerful.

Scott Edwards, Director of Master Hoa's Requiem 

Shorts 1 Program – Friday April 10th, 7:45pm & Saturday April 11th, 2pm.

DIFF has always utilized 3 Shorts categories and each one has it's own feel or theme.  This series of 8 short films seem to revolve around relationships.  Couple, enemies, parents and their children, and many more different views of relationships.  Here are my 3 favorites.

3. Sweep – Dir. Spencer Gillis – USA – 13 min.

It is just a short about three guys at a recycling plant, but it showcases so much about the concept of being a stranger compared to a friend.  I especially was impressed by the quality sound/audio work on the film. 

SWEEP - Jean and James shake hands. Image by Alyssa Ringler

2.  Melville – Dir. James Johnston – USA – 16 min.

Finding one's inner voice through all the pains of reality. Director James Johnston and Producer Red Sanders gave an in-depth roundtable discussion about this short film, here

"Marcus (Melville) is going through some shit."

Melville3-Image by Wesley Kirk.jpg

1.  Pink Grapefruit – Dir. Michael Mohan – USA – 10 min.

PinkGrapefruit_MichaelMohan_byElishaChristian

Director Michael Mohan has an amazing ability to touch on all the most intriguing moments in relationships.  For Pink Grapefruit we see the start of one relationship and the possible end of another.  The color palette, the dialog and the shot selection all highlight the tremendous talents of Michael Mohan.  Mix in a great cast of four talented young actors and you have a complete film, even if it's only 10 minutes.  I could have spent an hour and a half with these two couples.  Overall this is filmmaker you need to know. 

PinkGrapefruit_filmstill1_WendyMcColm_byElishaChristian  PinkGrapefruit_filmstill3_NathanStewart-Jarrett_WendyMcColm_byElishaChristian

Shorts 2 Program – Saturday April 11th, 5pm & Sunday April 12th, 12:30pm.

If Shorts 1 is about relationships this grouping of 7 films tackles confrontations.  Each film seems to highlight a person or people reacting to something or someone.  This might be the most shocking films of the full shorts program at DIFF.  These shorts deal with racism, sexism, economic class differences and the everyday struggle of life.

3. Mulignans – Dir. Shaka King – USA – 5 min.

In our not so PC world this short is a breath of fresh air.  Director Shaka King flips the script on racial identity.

Director Still SHAKA KING_Photo by Elena Greenlee 

Basically, Shaka King has made a quality short that takes a crack at this famous Eddie Murphy skit.

2.  We'll Find Something – Dir. Casey Gooden – USA – 12 min.

Casey got his good friends and filmmakers/actors Shane Carruth & Amy Seimetz to give us a doze of reality in the big city.  The fact that this short was shot in 12 hours, guerrilla-style, really highlights this amazing accomplishment in short film.  Once again the trailer.

1. Audrey Makes a Mixtape – Dir. James Mackenzie – USA – 10 min.

Amazing music choices, quality acting, and a great complete script makes James Mackenzie's short film one of the festival's best.

Shorts 3 Program – Tuesday April 14th, 10am & Wednesday April 15th 7pm.

These 6 shorts deal with personal issues and the impact they have on friends, lovers, and family. 

3.  + / –    – Dir. Andy Irvine & Mark Smoot – USA – 9 min.

I've been a fan of Andy and Mark's previous films and really think they have a wonderful view on relationships and specifically sex in relationships.  They poke fun at it all and they usually are spot on.

+ _ -_Headshot_AndyIrvine_MarkSmoot_Updated

+ / – is a bit different, it's not as funny or quirky as their previous work.  Instead the short film is brutally honest. Actress Ashley Spillers gets to showcase her true range by giving a powerful performance as a girlfriend who wants real comfort from her boyfriend.  This short was a sweet surprise and I think will resonate with a lot of people.

+ _ - -  Ashley Spillers. Image by Huay-Bing Law

2. The Outfit – Dir. Yen Tan – USA – 12 min.

I've always loved Yen Tan's work.  His movies are thoughtful, provocative and the questions raised in the films linger on and on.  The Outfit though is something new and fresh.  Yen shows a bit of his real life dark sense of humor with this film.  The short shows the impact of labeling someone in today's instant-media world.  Can a tie or a belt really mean you're gay?  That question is just one of many that will linger on after you see this extraordinary short film.

TheOutfit_Poster

1.  One Hitta Quitta – Dir. Ya'Ke Smith – USA – 8 min.

I've always joked with Ya'Ke that all he does is make award-winning films.  His subject matter is always about powerful material.  OHQ is a look at the violent phenomenon that has kids creating viral videos of fights, beatings and violent actions.  The current state of education can not understand, handle or correct the horrible future these kids seem to be making.  The editing in the film alone is something special as Ya'Ke shot a majority of the film using IPhones.  I really love the crazy transitions that he uses in the short.  Here is DIFF's in-depth roundtable discussion about OHQ with Ya'Ke Smith.

I hope you'll take a chance by checking out one or all of these great short film programs at DIFF 2015.