By Robin E. Simmons
This year’s 20th anniversary celebration of our popular Palm Springs International Short Film Festival features an exceptionally strong line up of clever, creative and engaging films. I’d be hard pressed to pick one film package as superior to all the others. However, I do recommend these programs and films:
ALTERED STATES Friday, June 20, 8 pm. Is our world our own? Look for “DAWN,” Rose McGowan’s directorial debut about a lonely girl attracting the attention of a bad boy.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Saturday, June 21, 4:30 pm. Will you get away or pay the price? Cool stories include “THE WOUND” from Azerbaijani about two mismatched guys trying to get rid of a mysterious cargo. And “TWO MISSING” (pictured) that tracks two young women walking in the woods where a murder was recently committed.
DREAMSCAPES Saturday, 21 June, 1 pm. Come visit fantastic places real and not and see a terrific group of films including “SEQUENCE” about a man (pictured) who wakes up one morning and discovers the whole world dreamed about him the night before!
HORRORS! THRILLERS! MYSTERIES! Friday, 20 June, 7pm. Enter a scary and strange world of short shockers including “SHIFT” about a scientist who naively seeks fame and fortune with his teleportation invention.
AMAZING ANIMATION Saturday, June 21, 2:30pm is a sure fire winner showcasing the gems of world animation that you will likely never get a chance to see again. Tickets for this program go fast. Here’s the complete program with short description to match the compact films.
The murder of crows a widower farmer feeds begins to take on a life of their own. (Singapore) 6 Minutes.
BENDIK & THE MONSTER
A monster dreams of a being a cabaret singer but his pal Bendik dreams of a better relationship with his mom and her boyfriend. The two pals can hardly imagine what will happen if they work together. (Norway) 10 Minutes.
THE CENTIPEDE AND THE TOAD
Under the hot Indian sun, the graceful centipede dances with ease through the forest. Nearby the jealous toad sits and plots the centipede’s demise. Do you take comfort in your own skin? (France) 10 Minutes.
According to tradition, Petite Neige, a young Inuit, needs to capture a low flying bird in order to pass into the world of grown-ups. On the verge of catching it, she falls into a mysterious crevice belonging to the giant dwarf, an ogre with the power to change his size at will by sneezing. This is very French film, n’est pas? (France) 12 Minutes.
A pair of young adventurers work hard to construct a gigantic bridge so they can cross an enormous gulf blocking the road ahead. It’s what life’s all about, is it not? (Canada) 11 Minutes.
THE LITTLE COUSTEAU
A young boy, transfixed by the exploits of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, has his own octopus adventure right at home. Sweet and sentimental. (Czech Republic) 8 Minutes.
ME + HER
Me + Her = Love everlasting. This film may not be traditionally animated but these distinctively crafted puppets vividly animate the notion of true love. Sometimes crude puppets convey deep truths. (USA) 12 Minutes.
On the surface Peter P is an anonymous man, but on his home turf he has to fight deadly battles in order to ensure the peace. A super short blast of visual wit. (Denmark) 2 Minutes.
RABBIT AND DEAR
The friendship of Rabbit and Dear is put to the test by Dear’s new obsession to find the formula for the 3rd dimension in this multiple award-winning animated tale. Appreciate the space you’re in? (Hungary) 16 Minutes.
In the SHOOTING STARS program (Saturday, 21 June, 8:30 pm) actor Taylor Kitsch premiers his crime drama PIECES (33 minutes),, his first directorial effort (which he also wrote). There’s solid buzz on this film and Kitsch will be in attendance.
If these random suggestions don’t whet your cinematic appetite, consider the opening night MAKE ‘EM LAUGH, always a superb collection. And there’s HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHORTFEST (June 18, 11:30 am) featuring director Darryl Macdonald’s idiosyncratic picks. Of course, if you trust the vote of the attendees, and they are a discerning group, you can wait for the six BEST OF FEST programs that will show at the close of the main festival screenings.