Argh, I totally dropped the ball last week and forgot to tell you about a really cool thing TCM (Turner Classic Movies) was throwing together. Throughout the month of September, TCM is partnering with Hermès and paying tribute to short films with a festival titled Behind the Camera: The Shorts Circuit. For those interested in checking out some of these shorts, TCM will mix them into their on-air schedule, throw a few online and host various premiere events around the country.
Okay, so if there's still some time left in September, then how exactly did I drop the ball? Well, this past friday TCM aired a slew of shorts (24 hours worth to be exact) ... and I forgot to tell you about it. Kill me now! Hopefully some of you managed to catch a few, it really was a special event. If it wasn't for a friend of mine (who, at the last second decided to use my DVR to record about five hours worth), I would have missed the entire thing. Instead, we were able to catch a bunch of shorts directed by folks like Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick.
However, TCM did throw a few shorts online and we'll check those out in a second. But first, I want to thank all of you for tipping me off on some wonderful short films. I promise to include a few of them in the next edition of Eat My Shorts. As always, if you happen upon a sweeet looking short online and think it would be perfect Eat My Shorts content, then feel free to send all tips, links and suggestions to shorts AT cinematical DOT com. With that, let's go watch some shorts ...
As part of their festival, TCM invited a few acclaimed filmmakers to create shorts which pay homage to classic films (or, as they say, "masterworks of film classics"). This year's talent includes work from Griffin Dunne (Addicted to Love), Peter Gilbert (With All Deliberate Speed), E. Elizas Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire), Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City), Mary Sweeney (producer and editor of Mulholland Drive) and Floria Sigismondi (music video director for folks like The White Stripes, Bjork and David Bowie).
Huge props go out to TCM and Hermès for allowing us to view the following shorts online (which also come accompanied by interviews):
- Your Product Here -- In the first short, director Griffin Dunne presents us with a slightly humorous documentary that examines product placement in films by highlighting the decision to place an unknown candy (at the time) named Reese's Pieces into the hands of an extra-terrestrial in the film E.T. Originally, producers wanted to use M&Ms, though Mars was reluctant as they had no control over how their candy would be used. Thus, Hershey decided to take the chance, and by doing so, tripled the sales of Reese's Pieces overnight as E.T. went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters of our time.
- There's No Place Like Home -- Here, Peter Gilbert sits down with his mother (an Emmy Award-winning TV director who suffers from the effects of a full frontal lobe stroke, limiting her memory) and directs a documentary-style short which explores the impact classic cinema has had on himself and his dear old mom. My favorite moment is when Gilbert talks to his mother about how she took him to see The 400 Blows as a kid. That moment, that movie and that experience is what helped shape Gilbert's career in film.
- Din of Celestial Birds -- Okay, this one is a bit strange. In Birds, director E. Elias Merhige pays tribute to the works of such film pioneers as the Lumiere Brothers and Fritz Lang with a short that's visually outstanding. From the pic's description: "In it, he uses the camera as an all-seeing eye witnessing the divine mystery of creation -- the soul's movement into matter and the first glimpse of Eden. To make the film, he employs an astrophysicist, a visionary painter, and a multi-media performance artist, and implements filming techniques that cover the full range of cinematical history." I couldn't have said it better myself. Definitely check this one out.
- Baadasssss Grandkids! -- Based on the title, I assume you know where this one is going. Here, director Mario Van Peebles pays homage to his own film Badasssss (or How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass), which itself is a tribute to the 1971 flick Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song, written and directed by Mario's father Melvin Van Peebles. In doing so, Van Peebles places his own children in the short, which TCM labels a "home-spun interpretation." Heh, I just like seeing the little kids dressed as adults.
- In the Eye Abides the Heart -- By using trees as a metaphor for the way relationships grow over time, yet for the most part remain the same, director Mary Sweeney presents us with a charming black and white short film that dips into the look and feel of an old school silent flick, while ending with a scene set in present day. I especially like the way she transitions through time and, while we can't hear what the characters are saying to one another, we still know exactly what's going on.
- Postmortem Bliss -- Wonderful, but disturbing and beautiful, yet ugly -- Postmortem Blues is, perhaps, my favorite of all the films, Pic pays homage to James Dean's Rebel Without A Cause by updating the character and setting it in today's warped world where everyone, no matter how deeply depressed, can be cured through medication. Well, at least that's what they say. Director Floria Sigismondi's vast work in music videos definitely shines through here, as each shot is as surreal as the one before it.
Make sure and stay tuned to TCM all this month for more on their short film festival, and do let me know what you think about the films I just showed you. Once again, if you come across a short film online and feel it would be perfect for Eat My Shorts, please email all links, tips and suggestions to shorts AT cinematical DOT com.