North Bend Film Festival 2021: Beyond The Void Shorts Block

North Bend Film Festival has curated a wide array of short films for their 2021 edition. The Beyond the Void block features films that explore the relationship between body and mind in interesting, varied ways. I had the opportunity to check out a few of the shorts. You can find the full line-up at the digital screening page where they are available from July 15, 8:30 AM PST.

Stuffed – Theo Rhys – 19 mins – UK

Araminta (Alison Fitzjohn) is a taxidermist with a desire to try something different, namely, stuff a human. After an online search, she finds Bernie (Anthony Young) who is so afraid of aging, he wishes to be preserved. Taking a direct reference from an infamous true crime case and transforming it into a musical may alienate some. The opening number sets a standard that the other songs within it struggle to match, but when this hits the right notes, it really works. The two performers work well together and the film doesn’t shy away from the more unsavoury elements of its content, resulting in some grim moments that pack a punch.

Still Together – Christopher Piazza – 13 mins – USA

A far more up beat (and even a little sweet) entry comes in the form of Still Together. Clare McNulty plays Kate, an enthusiastic shop worker with a talent for window dressing who finds herself struggling to connect with her colleagues. Luckily, she has found a connection, but it happens to be with Leif (Steve O’Brien) who spends most of his time as a mannequin. Alone with Kate, he is reanimated as his true identity, that of a warrior. O’Brien’s delivery is excellent, perfectly conveying Leif’s dramatic misinterpretations of modern things Kate tells him about. McNulty is just as charming, with both committing to the physical and verbal comedy. A fun, silly love story wrapped in an 80s aesthetic.

Goitre – Anna Weltner – 15 mins – USA

Anna Weltner’s Goitre is a fascinating exploration of art and medical complaints. Centred on Weltner’s recent diagnosis of a thyroid issue, resulting in a prominent throat lump, the film is a journey of discovery and near-confirmation bias as the director examines and recreates art works of figures that may have had the same condition, along with the historical context of the lump as a social and cultural signifier. Part reckoning with one’s own body and part slideshow of specific historical context, Goitre is compelling, insightful and deeply personal.

Lucid – Deanna Milligan – 16 mins – Canada

Mia (Caitlin Taylor) is struggling to find her voice in art school, trying to assemble work that doesn’t speak to her or her classmates. The savage critiques drive her to introspection and her morbid curiosities. Quick cuts and close ups echo the harshness of the world around Mia, isolating her further. That Mia’s identity is in flux sees her repeatedly ostracised and the film delicately moves her to the centre of her own story, managing an impressive conclusion.

The Isolated – Jason Giampietro – 14 mins – USA

Pandemic projects are tricky as honestly, how much I’m able to engage with them varies from day-to-day. The Isolated takes the form of a series of phone calls and eventually meetings between Jay and Keith. In the first phone calls, it is Keith chasing Jay’s attention during lockdown in New York City. It is established early on that Keith is lonely and that loneliness is furthered by the circumstances, driving Keith to increasingly attempt to contact Jay. Throughout, Keith regularly complains about almost everything happening, from mask elastic snapping to the vaccine. While this is understandable as a portrait of a man left alone with his thoughts in a place he rarely spends any time in, the film contrasts this with the texture of seismic events in the city during April, May and June 2020. The enormity of what is happening outside and Keith’s individual struggles rest uneasily together, prompting sympathy and frustration at the same time.

Algorithm – Edwina Casey – 9 mins – Ireland

Following an instant connection with a stranger Al (Ronan Raftery) is forced to confront his understanding of the world. Utilising a simple and effective motif of changing primary colours, Al begins to unpick what he believes to be true about his reality. The relationship between data and people is manifested in a way that becomes chilling on the subject of identity, belonging and agency. Smart, economical film-making.

Author: ScaredSheepless

Film and television fan, with a particular love for horror.

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