Chicago Film Festival 2011:
    The Short Films

Short Film Jury: Domenica Cameron-Scorsese, Nick Davis, Todd Lillethun
HomePrizesProgram #1: ChicagoProgram #2: AnimatedProgram #3: Midnight
Program #4: SpiceProgram #5: WorldsProgram #6: TimeProgram #7: Documentary

Since I am serving on the competition jury for this year's short films, I would like to spotlight that category of this year's Chicago Film Festival even more strongly. Without giving anything away about the jury's conversations (except that, surprise, our responses overlapped more on some selections than on others), I think we all agreed that this year presented a true bumper crop. We each perceived real standouts, if not always the same ones, in the narrative, animated, and documentary modes, and in all seven of the curated Programs listed below, which is how the Festival will exhibit the work. Sometimes, for funding reasons, festivals get stuck incorporating locally-produced works or student efforts that wouldn't otherwise make the grade, but it's my total delight to tell you that the Chicago-based "City & State" program is every bit the magnificent equal of the other six, and that student-produced films comprised many of the most potent entries across a terrific general field. I was truly, deeply impressed, and I really think audiences will respond strongly, so I hope you're all buying tickets!

I won't grade these shorts, but having secured the Festival's blessing, I will offer Tweet-length reactions, plus longer capsules about some of my personal pets... which aren't always the "best" in each group, but may have resonated for other reasons, or captured something about the form that the companion films within its program don't attempt. I'm starting now, while you still have time to scoop up tickets... especially to the City & State screenings, which have already begun selling out the house. So don't delay, but check back in for conversation!

A red denotes a particularly strong recommendation from me. Reviews of individual films coming soon!

Click here to reorganize these titles in Animated, Documentary, and Narrative modes.

Program #1: City & State (Oct 10, Oct 14 & Oct 16)
Grouping a truly impressive range of locally-made work
The Doctor's Wife (USA, dir. Julian Grant)
The Ghosts (USA, dir. Eddie O'Keefe)
L Train (USA, dir. Anna Musso)
The Truth (USA, dir. Hill Harper)
The Vacuum Kid (USA, dir. Katharine Mahalic)
Winter (USA, dir. Alaric Rocha)

Program #2: Pen & Paper (Oct 14 & Oct 16)
Collecting the bulk, though not all, of the stunning animated shorts
Belly (UK, dir. Julia Pott)
Birdboy (Spain, dirs. Pedro Rovero & Alberto Vazquez)
Bride Can (Iran, dir. Ronak Taher / no link available)
The Eagleman Stag (UK, dir. Michael Please)
Flowers for Jupiter (USA, dir. Chris Mars)
The Gallery (Poland, dir. Robert Proch)
Guard Dog Global Jam (USA, dir. Miscellaneous)
Heavy Heads (Denmark, dir. Helena Frank)
Hellville (France, dir. Miscellaneous)
El Macho (UK, dir. Daniela Negrin Ochoa)
The Renter (USA, dir. Jason Carpenter)
Traumdeutung (UK, dir. Lauri Warsta / no link available)

Program #3: Midnight Mayhem (Oct 14 & Oct 15)
Packing plenty of scares, though blood is not always spilled
Beating Hearts (USA, dir. Matthew Garrett)
Cropped (Australia, dir. Dave Wade)
Dream of 1st of April 1999 (France, dir. Miscellaneous)
Foal (Austria, dir. Christoph Rainer)
Friend of Flies (Sweden, dir. Emil Gustafsson Ryderup)
Ghost (South Korea, dir. Dahci Ma)
The Unliving (Sweden, dir. Hugo Lilja)

Program #4: In 'n' Out (Oct 14)
Some of the racier content, whether comic or, so to speak, played straight
Ex-Sex (USA, dir. Michael Mohan)
Grandpa's Wet Dream (Japan/USA, dir. Chihiro Amemiya)
Method (USA, dirs. Rider Strong & Shiloh Strong)
Pass the Salt, Please (USA, dir. Tatjana Najdanovic)
Sugar (The Netherlands, dir. Jeroen Annokkee)
Venus (Denmark, dir. Tor Fruergarrd)

Program #5: When Worlds Collide (Oct 15)
Resonant confrontations between disparate characters or among divergent visions of our globe
720 Degrees (Bangladesh, dir. Ishtiaque Zico)
Krass (Iceland, dir. Tómas H. Jóhannesson / no link available)
Meathead (New Zealand, dir. Sam Holst)
Minuto 200 (Colombia, dir. Frank Benitez Peña)
Narkis (Israel, dir. Noam Ellis)
The Runaway (Spain, dir. Victor Carrey)
The Shirt (Germany, dir. Jonas Rothlaender)
The Strange Ones (USA, dirs. Lauren Wolkenstein & Christopher Radcliff)

Program #6: A Question of Timing (Oct 15)
Crystallizing a particular place and moment or meditating more broadly on time's passage
After-School Special (USA, dir. Jacob Chase)
The Extraordinary Life of Rocky (Belgium, dir. Kevin Meul)
The Heist (UK/Ireland, dir. Thomas Hefferon)
Just That Sort of a Day (India, dir. Abhay Kumar)
Ostrich's Flight (Brazil, dirs. Clara Izabela & Ze Inle)
The Shower (Chile, dir. María José San Martín)
Time After Time (USA, dir. Laurie Thomas)

Program #7: Truth Be Told (Oct 14)
In a CIFF first, a program devoted to most, but not all, of the nonfiction entries
Bitter Lemon (Bangladesh, dir. Nazmun Nakeb)
Caretaker for the Lord (Scotland, dir. Jane McAllister)
Flying Anne (The Netherlands, dir. Catherine Van Campen)
Goodbye, Mandima (Switzerland, dir. Robert-Jan Lacombe)
Grandmothers (UK, dir. Afarin Eghbal)
The High Level Bridge (Canada, dir. Trevor Anderson)

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