North Bend Film Festival 2019: Short Films – Something Strange

Technology Lake

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Technology Lake. Dir. Brandon Daley.

Technology Lake is Something Strange, all right. A man and his dog live alone together. The dog is a technological savant while the man is a bit of a dummy. The dog lives in tech splendor and is preoccupied 3D-printing a large bone for himself when his dumb owner gets in trouble, bumbling Luddite that he is. The man is playing a VR sex game (with what looks like a fleshlight that has a joystick attached to the top?), he’s making a virtual woman a sandwich as she teases and mocks him, “make me a sandwich you stupid virgin… I said no mayo,” while his apartment burns down around him. The dog comes to the rescue, and saves the man, and rescues the headset for his own pleasures. Insert a copy of a dog sitting in a chair with coffee while his place is engulfed with flames — “this is fine.”

License & Registration

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License & Registration. Dir. Jackson Ezinga.

License & Registration is a prop movie. The premise is that all you need to make a short film is a cop uniform, a camera, and a dream. The little movie hangs its copper hat on its efficient use of costuming to relay character and the subject of the story. Right now is the proper time to explore our psyche and relation to the police. That relationship has never been as complexing and requiring of nuance as it is right now. Bonus points for having a police light connected by exposed wire through the car window and filtering the siren noises through a subwoofer the actor adjusts in the back seat. Cute little roleplay experiment, that could lead other places, if fully explored.

The Obliteration of the Chicken

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The Obliteration of the Chicken. Dir. Izzy Lee.

“Look into the eye of a chicken, and you will lose yourself in Lovecraftian chaos,” our narrator divulges, in his best Werner Herzog impression. This small meta-philosophical piece pays homage to the great master of the existential documentary, hoping that anything said in his voice sounds so incisive and cutting as Herzog often affects with his superlative mystique. It bounds around the common cliches of philosophy – do not look too long into the abyss, all clowns are sad, and God is dead.

Diddie Wa Diddie

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Diddie Wa Diddie. Dir. Joshua Erkman.

Diddie Wa Diddie is what using the perfect space of a short film looks like. It’s a quirky product of the probing mystery. A guy is off riding his ATV when he comes across a strange substance. He brings it home and it turns out to be a grotesque blob that speaks in French, and then still, in code. The short feels of higher production, clearly utilizing its resources so they all show up on-screen. When the man invites a woman over, they explore their troubled relationship, grief, and at its center, what they both must truly desire from their relationship. Diddie Wa Diddie is a profoundly deep, excellent little vignette that shows just how much can be done in a short runtime. Like the song the title is based on goes, “I sure wish somebody would tell me what diddy wah diddy means.”

Safe Space

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Safe Space. Dir. Annabelle Attanasio.

I had to watch Safe Space a second time before I was willing to laugh with it. Then I could relieve the presented tension and chuckle with it. The name worried me enough – once it revealed a circle of men who chant in unison, “be the Chad you wish to see in the world,” I drifted further into discomfort. Yes, this seems to be a Men’s Rights and Incel meeting, of a type, where the men must cut their dicks off so they may repress their primal urges toward women. I’m out of words.

King Wah

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King Wah. Dir Horatio Baltz.

King Wah feels like Chinese food, colorful and aesthetically aromatic. It’s as if you’ve walked into a shop and are taking in the strong aroma of spices. It feels like a fortune cookie too: a delightful & readily edible tchotchke that promises good fortune to those who have made it. Our main character delivers Chinese food. He loves his customers and writes them personalized fortune cookie slips, an adorable aspect of his character. His customers like to ask, does he fuck with Pat Sajak? One of King Wah’s customers is a woman with a bloodied bandage over her eye. She thinks it’s really sad, that he might deliver the food, and not meet again, so she forces another meeting, so as to avoid him potentially never fucking with Pat Sajak. King Wah finds familiarity in his work routine and his customers find solidarity in him, he can write them the nicest or funniest fortune, and it’s all a memento to the little piece of rightness, situated just so in their world.

SWITCH

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SWITCH. Dir. Marion Renard.

A few minutes into SWITCH, I said aloud, “this is porn…” and, it is soft porn. It’s also a staggering, feverish short about gender dysmorphia. The story is full of gender-switching. Which is as useful to know as a general content warning as it is to advise what kind of art it contains. It’s a slightly confusing story about a girl, perhaps she wants to be with a girl, is with a girl, maybe she is a boy, or that is a part of her fantasy. SWITCH freely explores the taboo desires and implicit allure of the most fluid of subjects, gender, and sex. It employs nudity and contact because that is what is necessary to draw our attention to its larger overarching goals.

The Third Hand

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The Third Hand. Dir. Yoni Weisberg.

Late into the night, the office worker diligently sticks to his routine. He must do the same work, watch the same tv, have the same food. Then, there’s a blackout and a new room opens, full of possibilities. It has a vending machine with freshly cut hands. He loses his hand trying to retrieve one. The short retracts into its own nightmarish subversion. It’s not totally clear exactly what it wants to say but it is fairly framed and holds its own sense of tension. A fun note to leave our short films with this year. Give our participants a hand…

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