Eat My Shorts is a bi-weekly column that showcases and reviews short films.
More than 130 short films, including narrative, animation and documentary varieties and new works from the likes of Harmony Korine (we shared that awesomeness earlier) and Ondi Timoner, could be seen at SXSW this year. That's not even including the music video program, which could very well count, especially since some of the official short series featured examples of the format. At lengths of anywhere between a minute and a half-hour each, that's a lot of entertainment.
While in Austin, I managed to only see a small fraction of the offerings, such as the four excellent selections for this year's Medium Cool program of "(not so) shorts." There was the early Jarmusch-like 'John's Gone' by the Safdie brothers, the long-form Arcade Fire video, titled 'Scenes from the Suburbs,' from Spike Jonze (also reviewed here; see the abridged version here), Jessica Lux's beautiful magical realist fairy tale 'Join the Dots' and Lindsay Mackay's 'Clear Blue,' which is an enchanting mix of 'Splash' and 'Cocoon' (a tribute to Ron Howard?). I also really like a narrative short I saw via screener, the darkly comic 'Animal Control,' which isn't recommended for pet lovers with weak stomachs.
While none of those favorites are on the web, a great many SXSW '11 shorts are -- especially from the program of films directed by Texan high schoolers -- so I've curated ten I think you'll enjoy and link to those others I've managed to find online. Watch 'em after the jump.
'The Blitzen Trapper Massacre' - Fulfilling three of the top requirements for supreme SXSW-ness, this short involves music, horror and Rainn Wilson. The actor also co-directed the film with Joshua Homnick and co-wrote with Blitzen Trapper drummer Brian Adrian Koch. Watching Wilson (as himself) murder the members of his favorite band after they reject him is almost as great as watching Lars von Trier bludgeon a loud audience member in the Alamo Drafthouse bumper seen during the fest last week (sadly not online).
While not embeddable, 'Blitzen Trapper Massacre' can be rented for free on the Sundance Now streaming site.
'Remigration' - Episode 2 of Season 2 of the online sci-fi series 'Futurestates,' which debuted its latest one-off shorts at the festival. This episode is directed by Barry Jenkins ('Medicine for Melancholy') and is set in a San Francisco so gentrified that there's no working class people left there to do any of the necessary blue collar jobs in service to the city's wealthy. Somewhat reminiscent of the hypothesizing feature 'A Day Without a Mexican.' And be sure to check out other 'FutureStates' episodes as they become available. Robby Henson's 'Asparagus' debuts tomorrow and I'm especially excited about Suzi Yoonessi's 'Spring of Sorrow,' available March 28. Watch 'Remigration' here.
'Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul' - It's always interesting to see alternative subcultures spring up in places like Kabul, Afghanistan, where this documentary finds a group of young skateboarders. I'd like it more if it wasn't so intent on being a cause doc with an important message, but it's shot so well (by DP Ralf Dobrick) and shows me something new. Programmers should be showing it before the feature-length 'Dragonslayer,' everywhere.
'Jeremy Messersmith, "Tatooine"' - You may have seen this music video for the 'Star Wars'-inspired song when it showed up online last fall. If not, now's another chance to see the original trilogy retold with paper-cut animation by Eric Power.
'39-A: Een Reisverhaal Van Eindeloos (A Travel Tale of Interminable)' - 'Star Wars' also figures into this autobiographical documentary collage, which involves toys, Bambi, a family road trip, animation, memories, Super-8 home movies, the Kennedy Space Center and dreams of t-shirts.
'(__)' - This teen-directed work won the Texan High School Shorts jury prize, but I'm worried it will also be deemed too similar to Michael Sarrow's 2009 film 'Do Not Disconnect,' which a recent Motorola commercial has already been accused of ripping off. I think it's just a commonly thought premise, and anyway this is more like a tech-based 'Pleasantville' with minor 'Say Anything' influence than just another '1984' descendent.
'The Beaufort Diaries' - A polar bear voiced by David Duchovny heads to Hollywood (and tries out Scientology) in this cute and unusually animated short, which sadly ends up being just an ad for a novela and also global warming.
'Special Needs' - Here's a special film for the cinephiles that can best be summed up in the line, "I did an impression of a retarded man, and you mounted me." Would you be okay if your significant other was turned on by Leonardo DiCaprio, but only in 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape'? See kinkiness gone very wrong in Scott Smith's politically incorrect skit.
'Dinosaur Ballet' - Less than a minute long and looking like something that was conceived and drawn up in about an hour, Ross Butter's latest crude animation is the mash-up of 'Black Swan' and 'Jurassic Park' you've been waiting for.
'Denmark' - My favorite of those available is Daniel Fickle's silent puppet film about a crustacean who builds a rocket ship. Not enough films work with marionette style puppetry and not enough are as imaginative and driven by visual storytelling as this.
Other SXSW 2011 shorts available online:
'BOOBatary' (Plympton-esque animation)
'Shinya Kimura' (documentary)
'The High Level Bridge' (documentary)
'Diplo' (music documentary)
'The Announcement' (comedy skit)
'America: Shake It Don't Break It' (comedy)
'Coonpipes' (stop-motion animation -- teen program)
'The Doorman' (horror/comedy -- teen program)
'Dreamcatcher' ('Twilight Zone'-esque horror -- teen program)
'Groenten' (western -- teen program)
'The History of Nikola Tesla - A Short Story' (biographical animated documentary -- teen program)
'Joe the Clay Guy and the Crystal Sword' (stop-motion animation -- teen program)
'A Journey of One' (teen program)
'Neighborhood Watch' (animation -- teen program)
'Superior' (music video -- teen program)
Thanks again to the SXSW short film programmers for another great year!