Austin Film Festival 2016: Shorts Program 1 review

We had the chance to review short films from the “Shorts Program 1: Letting Go” at Austin Film Festival. The program selection at this year’s festival has been excellent. There are many diverse films from all over the world, including “Past the Second Stage,” “The Boy and the Sea” and “Shy Guys” in the “Shorts Program 1: Letting Go” selection.

Reviews by Catherine Gutierrez

“Past the Second Stage” (Australia, 6 min.)

Synopsis: Old family resentments are uncovered as a man cleans his dead brother’s derelict house. Six minutes to convey a story of grief and loss? That’s quite a task, but writer and director Samuel Galloway does just this. The film follows a man who is cleaning up his dead brother’s mess and wanting to find a photo on his laptop for the funeral. With the computer being locked, he calls for technical support, in which he needs to answer three security questions that allow the operator to release the password.

Review: Who knew security questions could take on a whole deeper meaning? Each question brings memories that are flashed back upon in the film and dig into the fresh wound of his deceased brother. With what started off as resentment moves slowly through grieving and processing the death of his brother.

If you’re looking for a short film to take you on a journey within such a short amount of time, I recommend catching “Past the Second Stage,” because the operator’s words at the end of the film, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” will definitely strike a chord.

“Shy Guys” (USA, 8 min.)

Synopsis: Two strangers bravely confront and resolve one of the most terrifying and perplexing scourges to ever afflict mankind… all while standing at neighboring urinals.

Review: It’s quite hilarious that this short film is in “Letting Go” category, because letting go in this case means the conflict that arises when being pee shy. I think it was most definitely set in the category to provide some relief from the other films serious and sad subject matters and it was definitely hilarious.

Writer and director Fredric Lehne brings us two strangers confronting their pee struggles in a men’s urinal. The film was refreshingly fun and interesting to watch. I feel for women, this is something we can’t relate to since we don’t have to pee next to other women in most cases, so being able to kind of peek into this world is fascinating as a woman viewer. I can guess as men who watch this short film, it’ll be quite relatable for some who have been in this situation before.

The journey these two men take as their discussing their pee shyness goes really deep into their issues of why they can’t let go in front of other men. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s definitely a must-see short film that will make you smile.

“The Boy and the Sea” (Netherlands, 7 min.)

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Synopsis: A young brooding boy and an old lighthouse keeper form an unlikely bond while gazing out over the shore, each finding a different truth beyond the water.

Review: First off, the little boy is brilliant. The source material he is reading is pretty profound as it’s metaphorically relating the sea to his dealing with grief from the death of his father. Again, like “Past the Second Stage,” the amount of emotions that you are able to feel within such a short amount of time is a real credit to the writer Andreas Illmer and director Vasily Chuprina.

“The Boy and the Sea” was filmed in the Netherlands and the seaside scenery sets the dreary tone of the film. I think it’s also more profound when we see children grieving and explaining their grief because often times children are seen as not being able to comprehend any emotions.

The fact that this little boy is relating his grief to something and trying to be strong for his mother and sister and getting advised by the old lighthouse keeper is nice journey to see unveil.

If you’re still in town for Austin Film Festival you can catch the Shorts Program 1: Letting Go on Monday Oct. 17, 2016 12 p.m. – 1:42 p.m. at Galaxy Highland 9 presented by Dove Chocolate.

You can follow Austin Film Festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and check their website here for the full live schedule and ticket info.

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