I love a collection of weird, wonderful — and of course, BLOODY shorts — and North Bend Film Fest is delivering this year! Here’s a list of my faves from their 2021 Shorts Packages:
FROM SHORTS 1: BEYOND THE VOID
STUFFED, Directed by Theo Rhys
A dark musical about a taxidermist who solicits a human volunteer for her dream project. Romance blooms – but there’s only one way this ends, and it’s not in a wedding. Sweeney Todd-esque tunes tell the doomed tale of two unlikely soulmates.
STILL TOGETHER, Directed by Christopher Piazza
Clearly inspired by Michael Gottlieb’s MANNEQUIN, this 1980s-set short about a window dresser in love with a Prince trapped in a cloth Mannequin walks the line between nostalgia and absurdity. Come for the trip back in time; stay for the blood spray.
LUCID, Directed by Deanna Milligan
90’s art student Mia keeps making the same terrible painting over and over, until her teacher bullies her into unearthing a long-buried family memory — which spurs her into creating the most fantastic piece of performance art I’ve ever seen. Watch out for that blender button!
FROM SHORTS II: CINEMA VISTA
SOLUTION FOR SADNESS, Directed by Marc Martinez Jordán
A gorilla mask suddenly appears in a severely depressed woman’s yard, and once she puts it on she cannot take it off. Even stranger, none of her friends and neighbors seem to be able to see it. An interesting metaphor for the disguises we wear to “mask” how we really feel.
SUDDEN LIGHT, Directed by Sophie Littman
Two sisters walk their dog on a foggy expanse and experience unsettling changes in the landscape, then run into a man who says strange and vaguely threatening things. This (thankfully) doesn’t go where I was expecting, but it’s still pretty heartbreaking.
LIPS, Directed by Nicole Tegelaar
I am always HERE for plastic surgery nightmares because eeeeeessssshhhhhhhhhhh and also noooooooooooooo. In this case, a woman wakes up in a hospital and told she’s had an accident that resulted in her lips being cut completely off — but don’t worry (don’t? worry?!?) — they’ve replaced them with an implant. Turns out tho, that her lips are now on another woman who “shopped” for them. eeeeeessssshhhhhhhhhhh and also NOOOOOOOOO
FROM SHORTS III: ETHEREAL FANTASIES
CRACKS, Directed by Andrea Cazzaniga
On a camping trip with her best friend, Iris experiences waking nightmares which brings up old traumas and divides the two women — separating them physically at a pivotal moment. Moody, gorgeous and haunting.
THE COCKTAIL PARTY, Directed by Jessica Sanders
A waitress fantasizes revenge in this fun, candy-colored homage to 1970s martial arts-action films. A nice break from heavier fare!
SKINNER 1929, Directed by Aaron Blanton
A broadcast of an obscure online show called “Pacific Legacies” begins with two friends and residents of a small island called Skinner, watching a recently found reel of film. As the film plays, family secrets are revealed and terrifying events play out in real life. A really compelling and fresh take on found footage! (also in the HOME TRANSMISSIONS Shorts Package)
FROM SHORTS IV: SOMETHING STRANGE
YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND, Directed by Trish Harnetiaux
A man is having an opulent picnic in a secluded area when another approaches, asking to borrow a Horse — or uh, horseradish? It’s not really clear what he needs, even while explaining there are 1000s of people and elephants waiting for him. This short keeps you guessing until the last few minutes, and even then …
MUSTACHIO, Directed by Victoria Warmerdam
What would you do if you went home and your imaginary childhood best friend suddenly appeared, demanding you heal the rift that happened when you left and forgot about them? A charming, affecting, and funny short about comfort and loss.
FROM HOME TRANSMISSIONS: PNW SHORTS
GOITRE, Directed by Anna Weltner
A woman with her own swollen neck recreates classic paintings and drawings of Renaissance women with prominent goiters as an exploration of life, death, and beauty. A truly lovely creative project.
ZOMBIE WALK, Directed by Rollyn Stafford
TBH, I wasn’t feeling this comedic spin on the end of the world about a man with a pet zombie …. until the last few minutes. Hang in there as they wander the smog-filled Portland streets; it’s worth it.
THE ALTRUIST, Directed by Matt Smith
We hear labored breathing from a woman on a bed, and then the creak of a metal door as it’s unlocked and pushed open by a man — who is either her caretaker, or her captor. He lovingly cleans her face and applies makeup and OMFG WHAT THE HELL IS UNDER THAT BLANKET WITH HER? Unhinged, gross and gory, uncomfortable, and never truly explained; I absolutely loved this one.