The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

The week when I watched sixty films

with 21 comments

It’s been a crazy week in regards of film watching. So far I’ve seen 29 and before the week is over I expect to have made it a double.

Does it sound a lot? Well it is. But each one didn’t last very long – approximately 10 minutes on an average.

For the first time in my life I’m attending Uppsala International Short Film Festival.

This is the 30th edition since the start, so you could say it was about time I took the 10 minute ride on my bicycle downtown to check it out. And I’m having a blast!

One moment I’m in a misty swamp in Finland where berry pickers from Thailand clash with the locals. The next moment I get to see a pen strapped to an apple tree doing a random painting at a paper as the branch moves in the wind and I have no freaking idea of what it’s supposed to mean. But I don’t get to brood about that for long, because something else has already captured my attention.

What a rollercoaster it’s been so far!

Not every film is good. As a matter of fact some are pretty awful. I’m not prone to use the word pretentious, but I don’t know what else to call some of the crap I’ve seen. I broke a new record yesterday night with a ten minute movie which probably was the worst I’ve ever watched on a screen. I won’t go into details about it since it probably deserves a special post.

But it doesn’t matter! Not the slightest! Because once you realize that the film you’re watching isn’t for you,  you can relax.  The night isn’t ruined. You haven’t wasted money on a full-priced ticket for a 2,5 hour movie in extra expensive 3D.  You know that it’s only a matter of minutes before the film is over and you’ll get to tear off the cover from the next present.

Attending a shor tfilm festival is like celebrating Christmas with the difference that it lasts an entire week, you don’t have to cook and it won’t ruin you.

Prejudiced and lazy
I would never have imagined I’d be so enchanted by this format. As a matter of fact I’ve always kept myself at a distance from short films. One reason is that I used to have prejudices. Short films sound a bit second class, don’t they? It’s something newbies and half of half amateurs can comfort themselves with because they can’t finance any bigger.

However the main reason why I’ve stayed away from it is pure laziness. The return on investment is too low, just as it is with short stories that I thought I couldn’t be bothered. You see, I’m so incredibly slow at getting “into it”. It takes effort to get to know the character and the plot, to understand what the story is about. Every film, regardless of length, every written story, starts uphill. Once I’ve climbed it I think I deserve to enjoy the view for a while, getting a free ride through the novel or feature movie. If you’re watching a short film you know that there won’t be any free leisure time. As soon as you’ve reached the top, it’s over.

But all of that is history now. I’m hooked, not to say addicted. There’s so much to love about those midget films:

  • The diversity.
  • The creativity that comes with a low budget.
  • The small scale which forces the film makers to concentrate on the essentials. It’s like an aged malt whisky compared to the diluted brewerages we usually get in mainstream 2 hour movies. You only need a few drops of it to feel satisfied. Strong and delisious.

And look at all this talent! Who knows what gems that are hiding among all the 300 short films that are shown this week? Perhaps there is a future world famous film maker who is taking his or her first steps towards a long and shiny career at this very festival? Perhaps he or she is sitting in the theatre as I’m watching their film? You never know.  After all there are a bunch of them attending the festival, so I make sure to join in the applauses that follow after every film in the short break. Just in case. I don’t want them to think that I don’t appreciate their work. Even when it sucks.

My favourites so far
Writing proper reviews about 29 films, let alone 60 is almost undoable. But I can’t refrain from giving a few shout-outs to my favourites so far:

The External World (David OReilly, GE, 2010) This is an animated film made by a young Irish animator based in Germany. It’s weird, funny and very stylish. Not safe for children since it contains a lot of violence and some kinky sex.

This one is legally available for free , but donations are welcome.

The Last Norwegian Troll (Pjotr Sapegin, NO, 2010) If you’re as much into trolls as I am after watching Trollhunter, this is a must-see. It’s an extended animated version of the fairy tale “The three goats Gruff”, which illustrates the current state of the troll population in Norway. An extra bonus is that one of my favourite actors, Max von Sydow, appears as the narrator.

Las Palmas (Johannes Nyholm, SWE, 2011) You might have seen the trailer for this shortfilm. “Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas” has 12 million downloads so far and I’m not surprised. It’s cute and funny in a slightly disturbing way. The only human actor in the film is the one year old daughter of the director. That’s a creative way of spending your parental leave! I’m sure there’s someone out there who is upset, wondering if you “can do this to a baby”. I think you can. It looks as if she had a blast.

Baldguy (“Skallamann”, Maria Bock, NO, 2011) Who can resist a cheerful musical number? I certainly can’t. This is an adorable little film with a LGTB friendly love message and a catchy refrain that I’ve been humming since I watched it. It just puts me in a silly, happy mood. As in the case of Las Palmas there’s a trailer for it, which unfortunately looks a bit laggy, at least on my screen. But at least you get a basic idea of what it’s like. I’ve seen it once so far, I’m going to see it a second time tomorrow night as I’m going to a sequence of queer movies. And if I’m lucky I can see it one more time, if it turns out to a prize winner or a favorite of the audience. I wouldn’t mind at all.

Friday night drink
But I’ve been talking too long. It’s time to wrap up this post and prepare for a relaxing Friday night, with or without film watching. Please let me know if you want something to drink. Coffee, tea? Something stronger? That’s fine, but no Las Palmas in my café, OK?

I hope you’ll have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers!

Written by Jessica

October 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

21 Responses

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  1. That sounds like so much fun. I need to hit up a short film festival here in Toronto. I’m sure I’d have a blast a well.

    Corey Atad

    October 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    • It’s way better than I had imagined. It seems to be a ton of work to make it happen though. It’s taking place in four different theatres and they need about a hundred volonteers. I’m not one of them though. But who knows, maybe a different year?

      Jessica

      October 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  2. I love short films so much that I find it a pity that they aren’t able to find a successful commercial model that would motivate/allow the big directors/actors to continue to dabble in the medium. I’ve seen plenty of feature films that would have benefitted by not being stretched to feature length. Some stories just work better in that tiny bundle.

    Anyway, I certainly agree with your praise for the two of those I’ve seen, The External World and Skallamann.

    Bondo

    October 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    • I was able to watch the full Las Palmas short on the director’s facebook page. Very cute. I hadn’t really thought about how similar one year olds and alcoholics are.

      Bondo

      October 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    • It certainly is sad. I suppose there are a few people who can – or try to – make a living on just doing short films? But it doesn’t seem to be the place where they big money and prestige is.
      I really respect those film makers. It’s definitely an art form that has a value in itself and deserves our admiration.

      And great finding on the facebook page!

      Jessica

      October 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

  3. I love, love love short films. My favorites aren’t exactly recent ones, but I’ve seen a few.

    Tyler

    October 29, 2011 at 6:35 am

    • If you don’t mind I’d love to hear about your favorites!

      Jessica

      October 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

  4. I’m probably attending a short film festival in my town, too, and I’m very curious for it… you make it sound pretty great!

    mettemk

    October 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    • You should definitely give it a try! It’s quite different as a film going experience. But well worth it.

      Jessica

      October 30, 2011 at 9:49 am

  5. That many short films in such a short space of time? Man, you’re crazy!!! In a good way, that is.

    Myself, I can’t handle that much incoming info so quickly – I’d need to pace myself and allow the impact of each film to truly sink in, especially if I planned on writing about it. I think in the end each film would become something of a blur, and if you asked me about a film I’d seen an hour ago I might give you a blank look and be somewhat concerned I couldn’t remember.

    Still, you’re a brave man for taking on this task – can’t wait to hear the full rundown!!

    Rodney Twelftree

    October 30, 2011 at 9:21 am

    • It is a bit crazy and to be honest I’m starting to feel a bit dizzy in my head of all those films. I’m afraid there won’t be any full rundown here at the blog. Maybe I’ll mention a few more in some post but I’m not even sure about that.
      Fortunately we have a great programme book where I also write down a few notes about every film I see as a help for my memory. Many of the films are also available on Youtube if I want to fresh up my memory afterwards.

      In an ideal world I think short films should be shown before full lenght movies as an appetizer. That instead of advertising… Wouldn’t that be awesome? Although pretty unrealistic, I know… 😦

      Jessica

      October 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

      • Actually the independent cinema in my “new” home town does exactly that, see http://www.folketsbiovisby.se/doc-lounge.

        Haven’t actually been to see a movie there yet, so I cannot say what it’s like though.

        Tessy

        October 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

        • You need to check that out and report Tessy!

          Jessica

          October 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm

          • Reporting! Went to see Pangpangbröder there last night and there was a showing of the short film Svamp (Fungus) before it. No commercials, no trailers, just the short film and after that the major feature. I liked it!

            The cinema itself was a bit shoddy but very lovely, a relic of bygone days, Most seats were probably the original 50’s seats, closest to the screen there were some old sofas and chairs to really sink down into, the doors, as far from the modern film palaces you can get. I think I will go watch more films there! 🙂

            Tessy

            November 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm

  6. Reading that headline I was in awe and wondering how you managed to watch that many movies! Such a festival really sounds like a lot of fun and like you say it’s nice to know that when a movie is crap that you won’t have to wait long for the next one!

    Nostra

    October 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    • It’s wonderful. I know the box of chocolate has been a bit overused as a metaphor, but in this case it’s really valid. You don’t know what you’ll get in the next one. And that’s just so charming.

      Jessica

      October 31, 2011 at 10:23 am

  7. I always love film festivals, I wish we had more of them here! I’ve never been a fan of short movies, but in April I went to a festival and watched about 10 or 12 of them and loved it! Especially one called Diane Wellington- it’s a very special concept, boring for some, but I loved it! Great post, hope you saw everything you wanted in the Upsalla one!

    Aziza

    November 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

    • It’s only a pity it’s a bit hard to discuss them in blogs since there are so many of them and you rarely have seen the same as someone else. I’ll see if I can check out that Diane Wellington one. Quite a few are available on Youtube after all, which helps of course.

      Jessica

      November 2, 2011 at 10:34 am

  8. I always make it a point to hit up a shorts program at any festival I go to; the last one I went to three out of the four short programs and enjoyed them all quite a lot. I know there are whole short film festivals here, too. I’m definitely going to try to seek some out next year. It would be really awesome if theatres presented short films before features all the time, the way Pixar always has a short film before their features. I think it adds a lot to the experience, and would allow more short films to be seen outside specialized settings like festivals.

    Jandy Stone

    November 20, 2011 at 1:20 am

    • They used to do that more back in the days. I don’t know where it went to be honest. Nowadays all they show is advertising and an increasing amount of trailers. 😦

      Jessica

      November 20, 2011 at 8:50 am

  9. […] films I attended the annual international short film festival in my city for the first time, watched sixty short films in a week and fell completely in love with it. Not every film was brilliant, so what when the next one is just […]


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