Sunday, March 20, 2016


11th Annual Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Film Festival, Cinerama Theatre, Seattle.

So yesterday Stan and I went down to the Cinerama in Seattle (not too far from where I work) to spend about five hours watching short science fiction films. This would be the Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Film Festival, presented by the EMP and SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival).So yeah, it is the SFF SFF presented by SIFF.

The reason for us going was that a friend from WOTC, Cindi Rice, was a producer on one of these pieces. She wasn't go to make the showing, but knew that the director, Reed Shusterman, was going to make it, and had some extra tickets. Hence, Cinerama theatre, Saturday afternoon for about five hours, encompassing 19 films.

Their film is Goblin Queen, and (spoilers) was my fave of the group. The setup is pure Disney Channel - teenage girl finds magic amulet that transports her to a fantasy universe. What makes it cool is that it does not follow the girl, but rather her mother - a bit of a control freak, who is dealing with her daughter disappearing at a moment's notice. And then when things from the OTHER universe comes spilling into ours, things get wild. Goblin Queen is well-written and well-acted, but what really makes it a fave is that it works without a huge amount of special effects. Tightly-packed and concise, kept to the small house in the real world, it worked its magic without a lot of post-production (Indeed, in the after-movie interviews, the directors who made it to the festival complained that their films were two days to shoot, two years to get the post-production right).

One thing I also liked about Goblin Queen was the sense of resolution to the film. A lot of the short films shown are demos, teasers, trailers, or proof-of-concepts for potential larger films. The problem is that if they don't resolve the story, they leave the viewer hanging. There was a lot of that in the festival - Aden (winner of the Judges Prize and the Douglas Trumbull Award for Visual Effects) was an extremely well-done, well-conceived, well-executed chase sequence between an agent of unknown origins and child's mechanized imaginary friend, but it was the first ten minutes of an unfinished movie. The Garden, a tale of humanity integrated into AIs is excellent but also felt like it strained to be a full feature. Mis-Drop, a take on a green soldier going into battle, would be a great first five minutes of a video game. The Red Thunder WOULD be the first five minutes of a Disney Channel show where a teenage girl borrows her mom's car and discovers her mom's secret.

All this is well and good (and make no mistake, these are short films that if they grow up to long films, I would watch), but all left me with more questions than answers.

Then there are the WTFs - In Bionic Girl a scientist creates an big-headed android duplicate who replaces her and sends her to hell (There's a lot of singing. In french). Disco Inferno starts with Hammer-Film virgin sacrifice and ends with an office party and has a lot of weirdness in between. Tristes Deserts (A Robot's Tale) was described on Twitter as a Daft Punk video, and involves a white robot with an Elizabethan neck ruff fighting an ebony octopus. And poodles. There are poodles involved.

OK, but what else did I LIKE? Frost, a tale of arctic hunter scavenging in a sleeping city was extremely evocative. The No Look Dunk was cute and short and played with time travel just as long as it had to. Juliet links sex doll robots with iPhones in news clips and commercials.

And The Brain Hack. Serious seizure warning on this one. No, not kidding. This one took the Audience Award, was an excellent, subversive, knowing film that built suspense mercilessly in a film about a refining images to stimulating the "god" center of the brain. Its very good, and got me seriously creeped out, and would not be out of place at the HPLovecraft film festival.

All in all? Good. If you get a chance to see these films (and some are on YouTube or Vimeo from the links above, while others get attached to other films in showing), hunt them down.

More later