Metro Weekly

Best of Fest

Reel Affirmations 2007

Review by Randy Shulman

Rating: starstarstarstarstar (5 out of 5)
[Critic’s Pick!]

Sunday, 10/14/2007, 9:15 PM
Shorts presentation, $10 at Lincoln Theatre

ALWAYS A TREAT, always reliably entertaining and energizing, this year’s collection of shorts truly earn the honor of being called best.

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The evening starts on a dramatically strong note with Pariah (starstarstarstarstar), the forceful story of a black teenager coming to grips with her sexuality. When her parents learn the truth, the resulting encounter is, to say the least, harrowing. Masterfully directed by Dee Rees, Pariah is an extraordinary short film, fueled by strong performances, especially Adepero Oduye as Alike and Wendell Pierce as her father.

Offered as a light, refreshing tonic to Pariah‘s dramatic density, Family Reunion (starstarstarstarstar) looks at the flip-side of coming out, as an Icelandic girl returns home for her grandfather’s birthday celebration and is fearful that her secret — she’s a lesbian! — will be revealed to all. Clever, funny and uplifting, it’s a fizzy Nordic treat.

How you respond to Flowers at the Park (starstarstar) depends on how much you enjoy neurotic encounters between would-be girlfriends on park benches. It’s sporadically funny, sweet and beguiling, but lacks the basic elements that define a truly great short.

Fortunately, Prada Handbag (starstarstarstarstar) has all those elements in spades. An offbeat entry from Australia, it’s about a woman who, as a girl, loses all her hair, befriends a gay man whose makeup techniques are best suited to drag queens, and winds up working in a drag cabaret as a bar wench. It’s an adorable and endearing fable about learning to accept yourself for who you are, as you are. It out-Priscillas Priscilla, featuring an enchanting performance from Rita Kalnejais as Prada and luscious turns by viciously bitchy Vashti Hughes and Garry Scale as feuding drag queens. It’s impossible not to adore this Handbag.

The less said about Kali Ma (starstarstarstarstar), the better, as the ride it takes you on — from comedy to drama to ”I can’t believe that just happened!” — is as electrifying a 14-minute ride as ever there was. The story deals with a young Indian high-school student who is bashed by a white, homophobic jock, the object of his desire. When his over-protective, overweight mother learns what happened to her son, her fury is unleashed in a sequence that has to be seen to be believed.

Finally, there’s Communicator (starstarstarstar), a quirky little German film about a Star Trek-obsessed man, who finds a way to accept his son’s coming out by looking to the tenets of the Federation. Hilarious, strange and ultimately terrific. — RS


Best of Fest
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Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.