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In Search of Israeli Cuisine (2017)

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Roger Sherman sets his camera on Israeli culinary culture. With Israeli-American restauranteur Michael Solomonov as the on-screen narrator and guide, the film wanders throughout Israel sampling the foods prepared in the nation’s finest eateries and in the homes of several private cuisine.

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Iridescence (2017)

Director Max Beauchamp’s “Iridescence” is an excellent short film and one that we desperately need these days. Conveyed through motion, body language, and dance, “Iridescence” is the story of one family torn apart and destroyed by ignorance and misunderstanding. Relying on ace editing by Duy N. Bui and fantastic choreography, director Beauchamp tells the story of the tragic death of a wife at the hands of her husband one fateful night. Years later their son grows up confused about his own sexuality and is struggling to hide his affair with another man from his violent father.

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Say What! A Geriatric Proposal (2016)

Being an artist is tough work. Not only do you have to work very hard to hone your craft, and perfect it, but you also have to fight to be taken seriously. Jeremy Weinstein’s chronicle of his brother’s life as a Jazz Musician is a funny and charming slice of life and how a talented Jazz Musician finds himself on the end of man condescending remarks.

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We Just Want to Play (2013)

I really like where James Cappadoro and writer Frank De Rosa’s heads are with “We Just Want to Play.” There is always someone who is trying to hand us a new kind of college classic like “Animal House” or “Revenge of the Nerds,” and director Cappadoro’s short film has an infectious energy that made it a blast to sit through. The one downfall behind it all is that the movie is only about sixteen minutes in length. Chalk it up to budget or whatnot, but “We Just Want to Play” looks like it has material for at least a ninety minute movie. That said, the current short is fine as it is and works as a very entertaining and fun tribute to classic college comedies about underdogs fighting the alpha males and corrupt deans.

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Cauliflower (2017)

Director-Writer Phoebe Torres’ short “Cauliflower” plays out like a skit from a comedy show, and that’s not at all meant to be a slight since it’s a damn funny short film, that also conveys a full narrative in under five minutes. It’s weird how much the fear of looking ignorant can often turn us in to clowns nevertheless, but Torres has a great sense of capturing how sometimes we’d rather feign knowledge no matter how stupid we look, than not admit to ignorance.

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Joe’s Violin (2016)

Kahane Cooperman’s Academy Award-nominated documentary short offers a simultaneous pull on the heartstrings and a classical meditation on violin strings. The eponymous instrument is a violin donated by Joseph Feingold, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, to an instrument donation drive conducted by a radio station to help music students in cash-strapped schools in New York. The violin went to an all-girls academy in the Bronx, where it was presented to 12-year-old Brianna Perez, a gifted student from a broken home who aspires to become a music teacher.

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A Second Glance at 2016’s Oscar Animated Shorts

Time seems to be the central theme of the animated shorts for the Oscars this year, as all of the animated shorts have some semblance of the theme of time. Most of the shorts spend their story examining the beauty of the past and the present, while others examine the tragedy of the past, the present, and the future. As with most years at the Oscars, you won’t always find typical animated entries, but this year’s crop have been quite special and incredibly thought provoking. I take a second glance at the shorts this year, and what I am voting to win come February 26th.

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The Illinois Parables (2016)

Deborah Stratman’s experimental film considers the wide scope of the American experience through a narrow prism of eleven chapters from Illinois history.

The production considers the eerie near-erasure of the land’s ancient inhabitants – the Cahokia Mounds are shown with scant explanation of their relevance, while Native American culture is viewed in the tacky stagnation of a museum diorama and the expulsion of the Cherokees is encapsulated in a street sign called “Trail of Tears Road.” The rise and fall of outsider communities is also considered in the relatively brief period of the Icarian utopian commune of French immigrants and the rise of Joseph Smith’s nascent Mormon movement (as well as Smith’s death and the burning of the Mormon temple in Nauvoo). Stratman brings in archival footage of the devastating 1925 Tri-State Tornado and stages a re-enactment of the televised re-enactment of the murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton by law enforcement.

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