I felt like I made some solid progress in my shorts-film-aganza last night. (Click here to learn why I'm attempting to watch 20 hours of shorts in 7 evenings.) I got through the entire Nightmare Factory package (containing seven "disquieting" films), as well as the World of Possibilities series (eight p-p-p "portraits of people and places in pursuit of personal goals").
I was a little hesitant to approach the Nightmare Factory package, since I do not consider myself a fan of the horror genre (spooky suspense, sure! spurting gore, not so much), and if my past Seattle Central first-year film students were at all representative of the short-filmmaking community, I knew that any chance of using gallons of fake blood and other gross-out techniques would be grabbed with gusto.
Much to my relief, only a couple of the films featured gallons of blood (and the acting in those was more stomach turning than the special effects). A few of the films were actually more sexy than scary. (I honestly thought they'd mislabeled the disk after watching the first three.) Of course, they were "disquietingly" sexy. Like, for example, The Blindness of the Woods, an Argentinian short in which a blind doll-person-thing (a human wearing a full body Raggedy-Ann-yarn-doll costume) rolls in the hay (in the woods, really) with a sighted doll-lumberjack-guy. Okay, I guess that is disturbing, but it was also quite good. Definitely my fave of the bunch, about which my notes say, variously: "WTF?," "Too bad about the acting," "Love the beheaded body," "Typos in the subtitles!" And the one with the giant yellow mites was pretty cool.
The "Possibilities" chunk was another mixed bag—but that's the joy of experimental packages, finding the one or two shorts that make it worthwhile. Andong, from the Phillipines stood out for it's guileless and terribly cute child actors, and the Swiss Monsieur Selavy for it's steampunk-esque dark-magic-coolness. But my fave on this reel was the documentary short, Utopia, about the world's largest shopping mall in China--more than twice the size of the Mall of America! It's gigantic and almost totally empty--they can't get any tenants or visitors, but are hellbent on keeping it alive. It's truly bizarre and, dare I say, disquieting. You know you've found a great short when you wish it were much, much longer.