Shorts Round Up for the Week (12/8/18)

Most of the time we get such a backlog of short films and feature length indie films that we work hard to take them all on and review them before the year is up. In what we hope will become a new feature, “Shorts Round Up of the Week” is a column where we’ll be reviewing a round up of short films of varying quality.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.

Alt (2013)
Made for only 4,000 bolívares ($350), Alejandro Hernández’s Spanish language short “Alt” is a gut wrenching but interesting science fiction short that posits an intriguing question. What would happen if something so tragic and horrendous happened to us that we couldn’t handle it? What happened if science developed an alternate reality that allowed us to live an alternate world where we were safe and everything was pristine, allowing us to deal with the events? Would our bodies be able to handle it? Could we deal with it internally and emotionally? “Alt” is a fascinating short that explores the idea of science stimulating our minds to believe that we haven’t endured a trauma, allowing us to heal from a real life trauma. Whether or not it’s effective is left ambiguous in “Alt,” but it has a lot of potential to be a feature film with so many questions about reality, consciousness, and the sometimes unbearable burden of loss.

My Name is Art (2018)
I had a feeling that “My Name is Art” was heading toward some kind of revelation or something the minute it began but I didn’t see how it would progress in the second half. I admit I was kind of taken off guard by Shahab Zargari’s premise and the way he sets everything up. It’s difficult to full discuss “My Name is Art” without giving away the whole movie, but suffice to say “My Name is Art” is clever. Kevin Sanders plays Art, a young man who lives alone with his cat. One day a man shows up at his door asking who he is, and challenging him to hit him. Despite Art’s best efforts to shoo him away, the man will not leave Art alone. Things soon escalate. “My Name is Art” is well done even if the sound design leaves a little to be desired. In either case, Shahab Zargari has a really clever short film on his hands, and I very much wanted to know more about everything, including Art himself and what makes him so special. If you’re interested in something completely out of the ordinary this is a good bet if you find it.

On Her Way (2014)
Raeshelle Cooke’s short film is a silent but effective drama about fear and the anxiety of the outside world. Michaela Cooke plays Shelly, a young woman stuck inside her house who is too frightened to go outside. So paralyzed with fear is she, that she even spots every person passing her window as someone with ill intent toward her. Only when she finally decides she’s had enough and to realize what kind of person she could be once she sheds her fears, does she understand the world has a lot to offer. Told with tight editing and strong acting from Cooke, “On Her Way” is a fascinating short drama with a strong message about overcoming our own insecurities and anxieties.

Stronger (2018)
Rahul Nath, and Kshitij Salve’s “Stronger” is a film that we very much need right now. In a world where rape and violence against women is still very much rampant, prevalent and much too common, “Stronger” is a movie that’s about a man taking his sexual inadequacies out on women. Rape isn’t about sex, so much as it is about violence, and we see it mostly play out in “Stronger.” While Rahul Nath, and Kshitij Salve don’t show the intense violence, there is enough here to warrant “Stronger” as pretty disturbing, but a crystal clear depiction of how some predators inflict their pain on others. Arjun Shrivastav is a man who is experiencing sexual dysfunction in his body, and the more he realizes he is impotent, he begins to spawn violent fantasies of hurting women.

This is the perfect encapsulation of a man taking his pain on the wrong individual, and he garners some of the most horrendous imagery in his mind that he begins to rationalize as something that he needs, in order to re-claim some sense of manhood. Meanwhile we meet a young girl, played by Richa Meena who has decided against the protests of her parents, to live a single life after breaking up with her boyfriend. When she decides to learn how to live with herself before she can live with someone, fates cross in ways we don’t see coming. Richa Meena and Arjun Shrivastav are fantastic and the writing-directing team Rahul Nath, and Kshitij Salve manage to show so much in a film that’s only twenty minutes. I wish we had a feature film version of “Stronger” and I hope very soon we get a longer narrative form with extra emphases on these characters. On its own, “Stronger” is wonderful, a gripping and pretty scary drama thriller with a sad message about the dangers of being a woman in a world where men grapple with their impotence and fragile masculinity in horrific ways.