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Short Films to Remember
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

When rushing through the various programs at the Berlin Film festival, it is easy to pass up the short films selection, especially since the 2005 films were not very interesting or memorable. Accidentally stumbling upon this set of interesting films was refreshing for me. I enjoyed them so much that I did not want to leave, contrary to the feeling that I had last year. Several films are lodged in my memory bank forever which were strikingly profound and technically well filmed. Short films are a unique length. They need to be cleverly made in order to convey an expression of emotion or statement so that the viewer quickly grasps the idea of the filmmaker. It is also a length that inspires one to make her own film and often these are the first films one can afford to make.

In the winnng film Our Man in Nirvana German director Jan Koester uses Indonesian shadow puppetry in a unique modern hard rock setting mixed with a moral biblical tale to illustrate how far one could go with animation. Head Shot by Canadian director Dennis Heaton hit the screen running with black humor. Here the movie conveyed a snuff film in action where the victim (Micheal Lewis) was incapable of not overacting while the perpetrator(Ian Butcher) standing next to him waits impatiently to shoot him in the head. Hold Please by director Chris Cudlipp showed how the modernization of technology goes too far. In this film the main actress (Lisa Hensley) wishes to commtit suicide since her boyfriend Damian DeMontemas has dumped her for someone else: Christie Giordimaina. While contemplating this action, she decides to phone a call center for help. Press one if you want to hang yourself, press two for drug overdose and three if you want to shoot yourself, and so on… She never gets the chance to speak to anyone and after this long and impersonal phone call she gives up and obliterates the telephone. Globalization and modernization are happening at such a rapid speed. The Iranian film Kami Balatar/A Little Nit Higherby Mehdi Jafari shows a morbid but striking use of modern technology to enable the political system to carry out its injustice. Two crane drivers (Ahmad-Reza and Javad Emami) speak to one another and are terrified of being recognized by bystanders. They describe their personal situation in the current political regime and how their own status has changed. It is finally revealed that supected political criminals are being hung from their cranes before an audience.

The last two films Gratte-Papier/Penpusher by French Guillaume Martinez and the Swedish film Never like the First Time/Aldrig som första gangen! by Jonas Odell deal with romance. The first film takes place on a metro train where two people sitting side by side are flirting y using the books they are currently reading. Silently, with hope for a date, they simply underline the words to express their feelings to one another. The second film uses interesting techniques in several short animations on the theme of sex. The film covered the first sexual experience, how courtships used to be for the generation of the past as well as serious issues such as date rape. This film would be perfect in a sexual education class for kids.

So a good tip when going to the Berlin Film festival is: when you are burned out and your attention span is low, check out the short films. They are great when they are well done. One of them may even inspire you to make your own first film and why not with all the new and cheap technology, it is quite possible. So go for it!!!!