Unfortunately this year, my time at Tribeca was rather short. I therefore had to be strategic in how I mapped out my screenings.
One tactic that I used was to pack in a few of the Tribeca Shorts programming blocks into my viewing schedule. Here are the highlights.
Of the three programming blocks I watch, I have to say the most rewarding to watch was Down to Earth. The films in this collection were a series of Sci-Fi oriented short films, running no more than 30 minutes in length. The overall quality of each of the films was consistent and in keeping in with the theme.
What I found remarkable was what cinematic technology is capable of, even on a small scale. Nowhere was that more evident than in The Shipment (an interplanetary family drama) and Unregistered (a futurist tale of love in a dystopian Los Angeles). The latter, directed by Sophia Banks, particularly held my interest for longer.
The other selections (Storm, Bunker Burger, Zero, Flyby), are fascinating narratives which examine futurescapes in a variety of perspectives – from the isolation of a world without technology (Zero), to the intersection of technology and (super) natural phenomenon (Storm, Flyby). Bunker Burger, takes a humorous approach to a post-apocalyptic world in nuclear fallout. The director, Adam Yorke, is currently developing this idea into a feature-length film.
It is kind of hard to define this next block (WTF). I guess in many ways, it speaks for itself. There were a couple of mind-benders for sure, but overall too much of a good thing can sometimes break bad. Of this group, my favorites were:
- Momster (dir. Drew Denny) – Featuring Brianna Hilderbrand and Amanda Plummer).
- 11:50 (dir. Yiguo Chen) – Imported from China, this film was a 10 minute short which reminded me of what I love about films such as Dead of Night and programs such as The Twilight Zone.
- Snaggletooth (dir. Colin Bishopp) – A seemingly harmless young girl. A midnight orthodontic appointment. What could possibly go wrong?
The say comedy is hard to get right. It most definitely is. This final block, Funhouse, proves just that. Humor is something that will impact you based on your mood – that’s for sure. But in general something which is universally funny is just that. A few of these features were often silly, but ultimately did not register with my funny bone. The one exception for me is 40 Minutes Over Maui (dir. Michael Feld and Josh Covitt), which took a really insane event (January 13, 2018) and put its characters in a situation where you in the audience would question what you would do under those circumstances. Also an Honorable Mention to Hookup 2.0 (dir. Dana Nachan). It was worth a couple of chuckles, but the theme (dating apps, social media and its “influencers”), feels a bit overdone at this stage. Not the fault of the film, but just a bit of low hanging fruit.
So there you have it – my wrap up of the shorts featured at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Overall, I have to say I am very impressed with the ability of storytellers to capture and complete full narrative arcs in such a visually appealing way. I really look forward to more shorts in my future.