Metro Weekly

Best of the Fest: Shorts

Reel Affirmations 2011

Rating: starstarstarstarstar (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Sunday, 10/16/2011, 7:00 PM
Shorts presentation, $12 at Lisner Auditorium

YEAR IN, YEAR out, this series of shorts has been a Reel Affirmations highlight. And this year is no exception — though we were unable to get our mitts on Public Relations, Franswa Sharl and No Direction, so you’re on your own with those.

In The Queen (starstarstarstar), a shy, withdrawn Korean-American teen toils at his mother’s dry cleaning outlet where, late one night, he gets caught up in a prom night fantasy. Christina Choe’s 8-minute film is the perfect blend of funny, sweet and sorrowful and Sean Tariyoto is delightful as the protagonist. The brisk comedy 52 (starstar) is the kind of weird sketch you might find The Kids in the Hall doing. Appropriate, since it was conceived and written by the troupe’s Scott Thompson. Fortunately it’s over in a flash.

The Maiden and the Princess (starstarstarstar) is a sumptuously crafted comedy about how fairy tales are spun — and how they can be altered to celebrate the individualities of all children. Director Ali Scher takes a whimsical yet smart approach, utilizing a variety of fanciful styles — including musical theater — to create a work of surprising substance. It stars David Anders (Alias) and Julian Sands in roles that just might surprise you.

A flat-out riot, the premise behind Gayby (starstarstarstarstar) is simple: a woman asks her best gay friend to father her child. The banter between the friends is infused with snap, crackle, pop, and their awkward attempt to conceive “the old fashioned way” is one of the funniest damn things you’ll ever see on screen. When the woman asks if she should remove her bra, her friend exclaims, “God no! I don’t have to do anything with them, do I?” Director Jonathan Lisecki is working on a feature version of the short, and as far as I’m concerned, it can’t hit theaters fast enough.

And that brings us to the Hope Diamond of this year’s collection — I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone (starstarstarstarstar), a Brazilian coming-of-age drama that is positively remarkable. It’s simple, sweet, elegantly told and features an inspired plot twist involving a blind boy and his two best friends. Directed by Danile Ribeiro, the film’s beauty and simplicity is underscored by a sense of discovery and magic. It’s a 17-minute masterpiece that should not be missed.

Best of the Fest: Shorts