SHORTS PROGRAM III: Longing for Innocence

Each of the delicacies in the Santa Fe Film Festival’s SHORTS PROGRAM III explores the loss of our innocence around our spiritual and intellectual decay, delivering a banquet of emotions to indulge in. This program screens Sunday, October 23 at noon at the CCA.

The heartbreakingly simple Australian film, THE FOAL (10m) carries a heavy emotional impact as we watch a five-year old girl come to terms with the meaning of death. How very early in our lives that link to innocence is broken. The camera focuses on the important elements in this story from the young girl’s magical POV to the wider angle of the inescapable natural world. Elegiac and disturbing. You won’t forget this one.

MISH MUSH (APRICOTS) (19m) explores innocence at a later stage, in the character Ahmad—the privileged son of a wealthy Syrian businessman as he makes a decision to leave his father’s house filled with expensive furniture and sparkling chandeliers. He decides to fake papers and run away instead of joining the army. But almost like a turning point in a lavish meal, Ahmad leaves the narrative story behind and finds himself in a dream-like reality that removes the veils from his eyes so he can see his inheritance clearly.

A snarky little cheating brother, a mom who doesn’t want you around, a friend’s truly creepy dad, and a boy you like acting as peer-driven as the rest of your friends headed for a life void of depth—that’s the main character’s hopeless circumstances in KIDS FOR KIDNAPPING (14m). A satisfyingly surprise ending leaves you with that sad longing of wanting to be grown up, but realizing that being an adult may not be much better.

THE WAKING (13m) had me looking over my shoulder from the line, “You finally got your dream home,” clearly foreshadowing events to come. You know those moments when you stop and stare at something, unwilling to believe what you just saw or heard? Was it all in your head? This film is pitch-perfect with them, using pace and sound to jump you right out of your skin.

The very short CONSCRIPT (4m), is a film montage using archival and family footage with digital techniques that loosely paint the story of  three generations of men and their relationship to war.

Tense from the get-go, THE LAB (9m) breathes danger in every footstep. The developed characters create the plot’s action in this short as it should in every film, as two teens quickly loose their youthful swagger when they discover an abandoned trailer in the forest.

From the tilted title hanging precariously from a chandelier to the 13-minute, non-breaking, hand-held shot that ends the film, SUBURBIA (15m) delivers shades of CRASH and TWILIGHT ZONE. The camera acts like another observant character on the street—like it’s you, and, of course, the camera IS you. Based on actual events, the psychological breaking of innocence in this film is more horrifying when our main character seems to have been living such a normal, happy life in the first two minutes.

The program ends with the lightest film, PLAY TO WIN (19m), about a desperate, out-of-work mathematician who announces, “I know how to win the lottery.” This quick-witted plot only hints at dead bodies, yet life is still hanging in the balance for rain man, as beauty and brains, both, win out.