Review: Opening Night "Shorts" at the Maryland Film Festival

MDFilmFestival Last night began the 2014 Maryland Film Festival. As a hometown kid this was a such a great experience. Moving to the MICA and University of Baltimore campuses exclusively this year was a major change for the festival, but things seems to being going on without a hitch. Unlike the major film festivals, the Maryland Film Festival opens with a series of shorts instead of a major star studded film. Last night the audience was presented with 5 shorts, below are my reviews of each:

Easy - Directed by Daniel Laabs


At 12 minutes long, Easy, paints an image of a young boy suffering with identity issues in the wake of his passion for gymnastics while trying to deal with growing up. Juxtaposed with his brother's very sured sexuality and seemingly self consumed life. Seeing glimpses of his brother's path and admiring and simultaneously hating his presumed future was a fascinating character study. However, in the end the film was too heavy handed in parts and leaned heavily on obvious metaphors. Director Daniel Laabs' grim shooting technique made Dallas feel like the Northeastern United States during its brutal winters, which played beautifully to the film subject matter. Had Easy been a longer film things could have been flushed out further.

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I Was A Teenage Girl - Directed by Augustine Frizzell


At 5 minutes long, I Was A Teenage Girl, shows the interactions betwixt two friends as one describes her first sexual experience. A valiant effort in quick storytelling that sadly didn't have the strongest of performances. However, what carried the film over the finish line was the absolute perfect choice in music and timing. Slow glances, close ups, and a thunderous soundtrack mixed with silence at the right times made the atmosphere that much heavier. I look forward to seeing much more of Augustine Frizzell's work.

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More Than Two Hours - Directed by Ali Asgari

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At 15 minutes long, More Than Two Hours, takes place in very conservative modern day Iran. A couple who are not married recently had sex and the woman is still bleeding after more than two hours. From hospital to hospital the couple goes to get medical treatment. However, due to societal issues of unwed sex they are denied. Pushing against thoughts of humanity versus illegality made for a powerful mixture. Are rules truly meant to be broken in the name of our own humanity, or man's laws paramount. More Than Two Hours aims to make the audience contemplate both sides. Beautifully shot and presented in Farsi, the film is not an everyday story, and that's the most familiar element about it.

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The Bravest, The Boldest - Directed by Moon Molson


At 17 minutes long, The Bravest, The Boldest is a film about acceptance. Accepting the things you can't change, and accepting the things you can. The film tells the story of a woman who is being presented with news of her love one dying in war. She mercilessly avoids two Army officers as they try and deliver the news to her. A truly heartbreaking modern story of one woman's moment of coming to terms with her new reality. All the while the lengths at which one military chaplain goes to give this woman the solace that she needs. Well placed comedic timing helped to make the rough moments even more meaningful. Director Moon Molson is able to capture your full attention and deliver a complete story in expert fashion. Looking forward to seeing more from him.

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Verbatim - Directed by Brett Weiner

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At 6 minutes long, Verbatim, is a fascinating little film. Based on the actual words from a deposition filed with the Supreme Court of Ohio, the film uses the best element for comedy...emotion. The entire dialogue is lifted verbatim from the case so its up to director Brett Weiner to make it sing. An ever escalating moment between a lawyer and a government employee on whether he knows what a photo copier is was surprisingly entertaining. The perfect amount of anger and derision from the lawyer mixed with the dunderheaded government employee's responses made this highly enjoyable.

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