Defining Our Choices: SHORTS PROGRAM I Review

In this program of shorts from India, Italy, Albania and the USA, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Whether in the whole of a life, a decade, a day or a phase, we all make choices, we all have dreams, and we all have disappointment.  It’s what we do with that disappointment that defines us.

In DILLI (25 mins.), a village farmer dreams of moving to legendary beautiful Delhi and building a better life for his family.  The film, in gorgeous, vibrant, saturated color seems to paint over what lies underneath the surface of a Delhi under new construction.  Former rural villagers seeking new opportunities are caught in the trap of economic inequity and an astoundingly uneven distribution of wealth.  However, with just a little bit of assistance and education, pride and hope take over.  Bright color comes to the surface once again.

The HANDS OF EROS (35 mins) would seem to say, “Sculpture transcends time.”  Milton Hebald’s hands have spent a lifetime of bringing his vision of the human body to life in often-erotic sculpture.  Hebald’s sculptures are very human; they are very alive.  His outdoor pieces seem to reflect change in seasons or change in weather.  They become one thing in fog and yet another in sunlight.  In 1960, Hebald created a series of pieces featuring Zodiac signs for the exterior of the Pan Am terminal at New York City’s JFK airport.  Disappointingly, the sculptures were removed during an airport renovation and now sit out of sight in an airport hangar.

The program’s third movie: HOME (13 mins.) is an emotional portrayal of an Albanian father’s pride in his son, Artan, as he serves in the American army.  There’s a lot packed into this film of yearning, pride and hope.  Laughter: a little bit of “lost in translation.” Mystery: why is Artan, an Albanian serving in the American army?  Why does he suddenly send home ten thousand dollars?  Suspense: And why isn’t Artan on the bus his family thinks he should be on when he comes home to visit?  A final twist will most likely make HOME an audience favorite.

Wrapping up the slate of films, in an exceptional film about dreams destroyed, grief overcome and inspiration given, FROM THE GROUND UP (31 mins.) is the story of five women whose husbands were lost on September 11, 2001.  The natural process of sorrow and healing is intercut with their inspirational lives ten years later.  One wife travels to Rwanda and finds inspiration with 4,000 wives and mothers.  What could they possibly have in common?  Another wife leads tourists at the re-building of Ground Zero: “…they took 2,749 lives that morning, but they didn’t take mine.  It’s a testament to all those victims, to make the most of this life and to celebrate it.”

Wherever we live on this earth, many of us have dreams of a better life.  This program of short films illustrates just a few.

SHORTS PROGRAM I screens at the Santa Fe Film Festival Friday, October 21, 2011 at 11:45a.m. at the CCA.