Sunday, January 12, 2014


Yesterday, Tim and I went to the ninth annual Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF).

This has become an annual outing for us. The first time we went — probably in 2008 — we attended only the second part (a total of twenty films are shown, 10 at the 4:00 p.m. show and 10 more at 7:30) and were able to buy tickets at the door.

The next year, there were no tickets available at the door. We learned our lesson and since then have ordered our tickets in advance.

Not surprisingly, the 20 films are a mixed bag; some we like more than others, and a few just don't appeal to us at all.

This year was typical in that respect. Also, there was an assortment of animated and live-action, and a couple that combined the two.

Yesterday, the festival got off to a slow start for me. I didn't much care for the first four selections, for different reasons. One didn't have enough of a narrative thread for my taste though it did feature an appealingly quirky robot (Robota), one was too much of a downer without enough else to redeem it (The Beyond*), one had a narrative thread but was still a bit disjointed and the main character was this kind of bratty kid (Red Summer*), and one was just sort of okay (Louder, Please**). (Note: One asterisk means it links to a trailer; two asterisks means you can view the entire film.)

Four of the next six in the first session I liked quite well, beginning with Bless You**, about an omnipotent being suffering from a case of boredom, which was followed by Star-Crossed, an interplanetary romantic comedy. The other two were Mirage**, a speculation on how the Bermuda Triangle operates, and Voice Over**, the ending of which was unexpected and uncomplicatedly sweet. Perhaps not coincidentally, three of the four featured animation (Bless You and Mirage were completely animated, and Star-Crossed combined animation and live-action). The one thing they all had in common was a sense of humor.

I liked the films in the second set better, even the ones that were more serious. Though it did start off on a very light note with Spacetime Fabric Softener**, a bit of trippy, 60s-ish, psychedelic animation.

Next up was Honeymoon Suite*, a well-done film about the level of service a four-star hotel offers its most challenging clients of the shape-shifting variety. Apparently, the film was financed by an actual hotel in Beijing, the Opposite House, as an unusual promotional piece.

The next two were followed by The Decelerators** and Sleepworking*, more serious fare, but well done and engaging. The Decelerators was a meditation on our changing perception of the passage of time as we age, and I cared about the protagonist in Sleepworking, enough to be more than a little creeped out by the twist ending.

Night Giant* was loopy fun. Emit* mined some of the same ground as Benjamin Button, but more comprehensively.

Drain was the darkest film, a horrific commentary on the lengths that some people might go to in order to stave off mortality.

Shift* was possibly the most artistic, with its evocative costuming and ever-so-slightly jerky, stop-motion filming.

The Magic Salmon was disjointed and weird the way a dream is when you try to recount it upon waking. Mostly, though, it was just kind of stupid.

RPG OKC** was an animated rom-com set in a heavily pixelated video game world.

Out in the lobby, there were two display cases with costumes from several well-known movies and TV shows. You can read about that here.

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