Shorts Round Up of the Week – Festival Bound

This week we have a trio of shorts premiering at film festivals, one of which stars Brianna Hildebrand, while another explores a common turning point in a woman’s life. There’s also a review for a nail biting horror film, and I re-visit one of my favorite short films of all time starring Eric Bogosian.

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

MOMSTER (2019)
Drew Denny’s crime thriller is a slick neo-noir gangster picture that packs some really interesting characters and an intriguing heroine. Brianna Hildebrand is as good as always playing Angel, a waitress for a dive bar who is held as a slave to her boss, whose notorious bank robber, and thief mother owes him an outstanding debt. Angel has a knack for helping other people, and is anxious to find someone who can save her from being her boss’s eternal waitress, forced to serve food to drunks and perverts. When Angel’s mom shows up, bullets fly and confusion reigns supreme.

“MOMSTER” is a fun and very good gangster thriller with a great sense of energy and wonderful chemistry between Hildebrand and co-star Amanda Plummer. Actress Plummer isn’t in the film nearly as long as I would have liked, but for the brief period she shows up, she manages to shine and build a convincing rapport with star Brianna Hildebrand. Whether or not this is a proof of concept for something down the pipe line, I’d love to see this narrative remade in to a feature length crime thriller with a dark sense of humor. Hildebrand can carry most roles, and she does a great job here. Screening at Tribeca Film Festival on April 26th, April 27th, May 3rd and twice on May 4th.

My Time: A Short Film about Menstrual Blood (2018)
A lot of the health and issues facing women’s health today are a shocking source and controversy and ballyhoo. The movement to normalize the function of the menstruation is an interesting one as it’s managed to build some interesting art. “My Time” is basically a coming of age drama about a young girl who gets her first period in the middle of her class, and has no idea how to handle it. The scenario could be played cheaply with some goofy laughs, but director/writer Giulia Gandini manages to convey a ton of interesting emotions.

There’s terror, confusion, and the initial shame faced by the girl, and then a stunning realization in the climax that leads to a pretty sweet closing scene. Star Clara Read does a bang up job in her lead performance and plays the emotional turmoil beautifully. According to the press release ‘“My Time” was created to help normalize the conversation surrounding periods and reduce the stigma associated with them.” Gandini certainly pulls off the task with a refreshing and entertaining drama comedy, and I hope audiences approach it with an open mind. Screening at the Newport International Film Festival screening on April 26th at 6:00 PM at the LOT theatre 3 in the UK Shorts programme.

Nox (2019)
Writer and Director Keyvan Sheikhalishahi’s political thriller poses an interesting idea about daydreaming and the revenge that we often imagine for our enemies when we’re left to our devices. Blurring the lines of fantasy and reality, we meet two professional burglars Peter and Clare, both of whom break in to a Senator’s villa on election night with the intent of stealing some incriminating files and money. The senator is dealing with a messy bit of extortion with his ex-wife, and she could very well destroy his future. The performances by Matt Passmore and Brigitte Millar are impressive with the pair of actors acing the duel roles necessary for the interesting story format. “Nox” is a solid political thriller that felt a lot like “Gone Girl” in the end, and deserves a big audience. 

Reverse (2018)
Director Josh Tanner’s horror thriller is a film that I can genuinely describe as a nail biter. I was seriously looking away for fear of being shocked out of my seat, and director Tanner manages to concoct such a terrifying short out of such a simple premise. Set in one spot, “Reverse” takes the idea of the intelligent car, and turns it in to a device for absolute terror. Attempting to drive out of an underground lot one night, a driver is surprised when his smart screen detects an object obstructing him from backing out of the lot. Although he sees nothing, there’s something preventing him from leaving. As he inspects his screen and the sensors, he realizes something is in the dark and is not intent on letting him leave any time soon. “Reverse” has to be seen to be believed as it’s brutally creepy and reminded me an awful lot of the original short film “Lights Out.” Often times the scariest movies can come from a small, simple setting and or device, and Josh Tanner does a wonderful job.

The Shipment (2018)
Bobby Bala’s science fiction short is easily one of the most ambitious short films I’ve seen in a very long time. Kaidan Katar is a cargo hauler still reeling from the death of his wife, and he winds up stranded on a spaceport with his daughter Zohra. When their old ship breaks down, Kaidan realizes he can’t afford to repair it. But when a mysterious figure offers Kaidan a proposition for a large amount of money, Kaidan has to figure out if he’s willing to do something incredibly immoral for the sake of getting his daughter and he out of a rut.

For a movie that works with such a small budget, the special effects are absolutely stunning. Director Bala is very keen on showing off a ton of establishing shots and wonderful interiors of this universe he builds, and “The Shipment” is a success from head to toe. I hope we can see this formatted in to a film or web series very soon as I very much wanted to see much more of this world, and the characters we meet. Ishana Bala and Aleks Paunovic do a great job here, working well off of each other as father and daughter. I hope director Bobby Bala can bring us in to this world again soon. Screening at Tribeca Film Festival April 27th, April 30th, May 3rd and May 4th.

The Wedding Toast (1999)
Bob Balaban’s dark comedy is a film I saw years ago when I was fascinated with short films and looking for anything that was out of the ordinary. Director and writer Bob Balaban delivers on a very awkward and painfully weird dark comedy set during a wedding. Eric Bogosian plays an unnamed toaster who stands up to pay tribute to the bride and groom. What begins as a loving speech to the married couple turns in to a tirade about his doomed marriage and how much he hates his wife. Bogosian’s performance matched with the cuts to the awkward stares from the reception audience is pitch perfect cringe material and it compliments a great slice of human misery. This is a great dark comedy to check out if you ever come across it.