At the North Bend Film Festival, the Cinema Vista block is a sure thing, a delightful mixture of varying styles from a range of visionary must-watch directors. There’s a little something for everyone here: stories about the resilience of Americans living off the soil, haunting takes on high school loss and the loss of a parent, a brilliant piece of art about a ballerina whose talents extend far beyond dancing. Joined together, they form a collectively significant whole. It’s been our pleasure to highlight some of the finest work being done in the form of short films.
Möbius directed by Samuel Kuhn
Möbius is a serious matter of aesthetic principles. It takes the vibes of Twin Peaks and drops them into a soup composed of the richest dark blues. It concerns a young woman who’s lost her boyfriend, and now she’s filled with ennui and drawn into a richly textured forest brimming with vibrant colors. It’s a great looking short film, and we’ll be watching Kuhn’s work closely and with great attention from here on out.
Biophilia directed by Marina Michelson
Biophilia is a deeply rooted short film about living off the land. It may be one of the festival’s finer American pictures. It concerns Rachel, whose self-sustaining principles come into question when a sheep dies on her farm and her husband leaves it for her to deal with. Will she butcher the lamb or give it a restful funeral? Biophilia attracted me with its beautiful sense of integrity about very real and American sensibilities.
Euphoria directed by Wynter Rhys
This is short film by way of music video. Talented Seattle director Wynter Rhys brings her blend of nuance and feeling to a music video seemingly about our obsession with keeping up outside appearances and social connections despite dissolving those that are right in front of us. A man’s presented with a conflict by his public: maybe he should find a bit of time to be with his daughter instead. It’s nicely shot and has thoroughly moving imagery. It is only over too soon.
Jouska directed by Wynter Rhys
Jouska is a trip. According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Jouska means “a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.” What form it takes here is an Alice in Wonderland-esque drug trip into hell. It’s a weird concoction of broken radio signals, children wearing animal masks, and a general dissociation with reality. It was made for a forty-eight film project and feels put together under a restriction, but you’ll be happy it’s a short, as you do not want to spend too long in this world.
Bailaora directed by Rubin Stein
Bailaora is a wonderful short masterpiece. It’s breathless, shifting from an army picking over dead bodies in the streets of post-war Spain to a ballerina imbued with special powers. Without words, Bailaora highlights the excellence of its form. When the ballerina tap dances, she makes the soldiers slam their guns and reload them in time. It’s a magical segment of surrealist expression, thoroughly striking and contemplative throughout. I’m haunted still by her cool, disaffected performance for the soldiers, while the children in hiding are able to slip out unharmed. This is a piece of incredible humanity and one of my favorite short films to date. It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to report on something so genuinely moving and evocative. I hope you all have an opportunity to see this wonderful piece of art. It deserves your full attention.
The Day Mum Became a Monster directed by Josephine Hopkins
A young girl is about to have her first birthday since her parent’s divorce. What was meant to be a joyous occasion goes the way the title makes you think that it would. (Ruined birthdays are also persistent theme in the short films selected this year.) Director Josephine Hopkins does some inventive stuff around her technique to make this an effective budget thriller that wraps up just as it gets going. And let’s be honest, we’re living in a post-Shape of Water world now; there are worse things than having a monster for a mum these days.