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My Father’s House: A Journey of Love and Memory (2017)

Hannah Reimann’s nonfiction short is a video diary of the final four years in the life of her father, Dr. Peter Reimann, whose life was slowly weakened by dementia.

The German-born Dr. Reimann served as a medic in the German Army during World War II – the film briefly states he was anti-Nazi, but never goes into depth on his war record. He married Korean psychoanalyst Dr. Myunghee Kim in 1957, eventually settling in New Jersey. Dr. Kim’s death in a car accident during a 1996 vacation in Chile was an emotional loss from which Dr. Reimann never truly recovered, and the sense of melancholy resonates throughout his on-camera footage. When asked during a birthday what it means to turn 89, he responds, “You didn’t die at the right time.”

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Justice Served (2017)

In the modern social and political climate, Patrick Rea’s “Justice Served” is going to play well and perhaps stir up some much needed controversy. While director Rea delivers his usual slick special effects and morbid tone, “Justice Served” is a brilliant commentary on society and how far we’ve come. Society is nothing but people exploiting people, exploiting people, we’re devils and devil’s advocates. Director Rea creates a backward world where the society we witness is shockingly not that different than what we’re seeing today.

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A Boy and His Beast (Un Garcon et Sa bête) (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A young aristocratic boy adopts a dog on his birthday.  As he teaches his dog tricks and learns to love his pet, something happens and he meets a surprise in the family’s yard.

Written by Crystal Perea and directed by Calley MacDonald, this short stop-motion animation film is adorably cute and funny.  The story shows a lot of heart and love in a family that is rather strict and not accepting of new things.  The boy at the center of it all is the black sheep of his family and is shown as a sweet, loving boy.  The way the story is built, the surprise near the end is not evident or easily guessed.  While there is indeed more to this story than first meets the eye, it all makes sense in a way.  This story is loving and filled with just the right amount of humor to make it a comedy but without going overboard silly.  The film has very little dialog, almost none really, and it shares its story and emotions through well done animation and through its music.

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Slapface (2017)

Director and writer Jeremiah Kipp creates a very stark and somewhat creepy tale of loss, grief, and child abuse with “Slapface,” a short that is destined to grab a lot of people’s attention. At only eight minutes, “Slapface” tells the story of a young boy still coming to terms with the loss of his mother. One day he ventures out deep in to the woods and calls to something in the shadows, goading it to come out of hiding and before long is greeted by a vicious, ugly ogre in tattered clothing and long hair that zealously grasps him to the point of making him lose consciousness.

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The Shorts of Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 – Part 1 [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

Each year Fantasia showcases a ton, almost a literal ton, of shorts films.  Reviewing them can be a bit demanding, so it has been decided to review them in groupings.  The following shorts were attached to feature films that played the fest and were viewed on the big screen.

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Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown (2017)

Gregory Monro’s documentary offers a scattershot overview of Jerry Lewis’ life and career, with a heavy emphasis on the funnyman’s peaks while carefully avoiding the controversies and failures that he generated. Lewis was the son of entertainers who put their careers before his childhood needs, and an emotional low point occurred when his parents managed to miss his bar mitzvah because they had stage engagements. The film notes that Lewis’ meteoric success in the late 1940s when he was barely out of his twenties created friction with his father Danny Lewis, a singer who never achieved stardom.

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