It would be fair to say that you could easily spend the whole duration of 2011 Cannes Film Festival in the Short Film Corner.
By my estimation, there are in the region of 1,188 short films in the Short Film Corner catalogue this year, offering films from all over the world to tantalise a variety of tastes in every conceivable genre; enough to warrant a whole separate short film festival in its own right. And if, at first glance, it seems that Cannes has a rather white/Eurocentric look this year, that would be because a majority of films by, about, or starring, people of the African diaspora, are hanging out on the corner.
This being Cannes, we aren't talking about some seedy ghetto corner.
With registration at the Short Film Corner being reserved to short films with “cinema artistic values,” this is a corner in a neighbourhood of some prestige, offering an increased chance of your film being selected by other international festivals and making your film accessible to all Cannes festival-goers, allowing it to be viewed in the Digital Film Library throughout the entire duration of the festival. Basically, as I refrain from high kicks, jazz hands, and breaking into an adapted rendition of “New York, New York,” if you can show it there, you can show it anywhere – opening the doors of even the most un-neighbourly of the film industry.
It would also be fair, therefore, to say that the directors and producers of films chilling on the corner today are also likely to be among the names who’ll be influencing the global film industry tomorrow. Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, and a lot still depends on what you do, once it has been opened, from stopping the door from being slammed in your face.
So, will I be spending all my time in Cannes watching short films, especially since that’s where a lot of the diaspora action will be? No. Like I said before, even with just the melanin enhanced offerings, that would be like attending a separate festival and I intend to sample everything on offer, from the highways, by-ways and corners of Cannes. But I do intend to take in at least ten short films and, with so much on offer, it’s been a hard slog working my way through the catalogue to figure out what to see. But figure out I’ll have to and, to that end, I’ve picked out twenty shorts that have piqued my interest, most of which I hope to see, some of which I may review here on S&A.
So, without further ado, and with jazz-hands at the ready, I present, in alphabetical order, my top twenty Cannes Short Corner picks for 2011. Wherever possible, clicking on the film name will take you to further information and/or trailers and film clips.
50 BUCKS IN ARGENTINA, Dir. Esosa EDOSOMWAN (USA. Fiction, drama, 16 mins) – A recently engaged wealthy socialite, and a street musician from Harlem separated from his wife, meet in Argentina and tango their way into love.
A LITTLE BIT OF MORE, Dir. Curtis Caesar JOHN (USA. Fiction, drama, 17 mins) – In her desperate search for unconditional love, an African-American teenager from one of New York City’s cruelest neighborhoods enters into a ‘pregnancy pact’ with her best friend and has to face the repercussions of that reckless bid for attention.
BLACKCHAPEL, Dir. Pierre FERNANDEZ (France. Animation, comedy, 8 mins) – The murders of a series of prostitutes are spreading terror in the neighborhood of Blackchapel! Scotland Black's investigation is floundering as Jack the Ripper's violent justice rules the streets... Sherlock Holmes and Watson are called in to investigate!
C'MON GET HAPPY, Dir. Daniel WILLIS (USA. Fiction, drama, 6 mins) – A young woman takes unconventional steps to overcome spiritual emptiness.
CONVERSATION, Dir. Themba BHEBHE (France. Fiction, drama, 33 mins) – Whilst helping her grandfather Henri move, Noémie, a young mixed-race teacher, comes across a metal box. It contains a collection of old photos and a mysterious slip of paper. This document is indeed the cornerstone of a family secret that has been suppressed for more than 60 years...
EPILOGUE, Dir. Chika ANADU (Nigeria. Fiction, drama, 6 mins) – A couple reach the last chapter of their troubled relationship history.
ESCAPE, Dir. Chilembwe MASON (USA. Fiction, drama, 18 mins) – A beautiful study of love, siblings and the loss of family. Two brothers mourn loss in separate ways, each holding secrets. The brothers reunite and the memories and events that have kept them apart are dramatically awakened. The bridge that united them has long since fallen and we ask why?
EXPERIMENT 93473, Dir. Abteen BAGHERI and Samuel PRESSMAN (USA. Fiction, fantastic, 5 mins) – An experimental piece about memory, the subconscious mind, and sexuality.
FOR FLOW, Dir. Jason CAMP (USA. Fiction, comedy/drama, 18 mins) – Shot on location, in the birthplace of hip-hop, two MC's (rappers) wait for a record producer on a lonely street corner of the Bronx. Their meeting will change that corner forever.
FREDERICKA, Dir. Nanci GAGLIO (USA. Fiction, drama, 15 mins) – Upon her father's suicide, a young woman encounters the delusional stepmother she never knew.
KOFI, Dir. John FOSS (USA. Fiction, comedy/drama, 14 mins) – Kofi seems to live the dream working in New York City at a posh advertising agency delivering mail, but his real genius as a storyboard artist has yet to be discovered.
L'ENCHANTEUR, Dir. Franck ROSIER (France. Fiction, comedy/fantastic, 7 mins) – A gloomy atmosphere in this shabby bar where an unscrupulous bosses exploits young waitress Cynthia, under the eye of a sluggish and lonely client. Yet, that night, a mysterious wizard appears. Despite the obstacles, he looks determined to spread joy and happiness in this place of misery.
MR. MZUZA, Dir. Greg ASH (UK. Fiction, comedy/thriller, 30 mins) – Alex, frustrated in his long-term relationship, discovers that a local African Spiritual Healer, Mr. Mzuza, claims to be able to break up unwanted relationships. He decides to pay him a visit. But does Mr. Mzuza really possess magic powers? And does Alex really want to break up with his girlfriend?
PROFIL NON CONFORME, Dir. Paul MENVILLE (France. Fiction, drama, 24 mins) – In a society in which continuous surveillance of individuals has become the norm, a man working for a large Pharmaceutical Group, makes a break for freedom, driven by his love for a young African woman, taking with him the formula of a vaccine in the hope of saving millions of lives in Africa.
ROOM TONE, Dir. Tanji GILLIAM (USA. Fiction, drama, 8 mins) – A series of quiet, irretrievable losses envelop Colette Brown, a striking woman in her mid-twenties who is deeply impacted by an automobile accident.
SAND, Dir. Cari Ann SHIM SHAM (USA. Documentary, youth, 10 mins) – "Sand" tells the story of the history and evolution of sand dance as it is passed down from father to son. Starring the emerging tap artist Kenji Igus and his father Darrow.
THE DRONE, Dir. Jason HULS (USA. Fiction, fantastic, 24 mins) – An android named Oliver has a dream and journeys to meet his makers. One doctor is fascinated by this occurrence and the other wants to deactivate him. This sets off a race against time in which Oliver must discover the meaning of his dream and ultimately the dark secret behind his creation.
TU & EU, Dir. Edward SHIEH (USA /Portugal. Fiction, drama/social, 15 mins) – Does love conquer all? Through one brief phone conversation, Tu & Eu follows several star-crossed lovers around the world whose differences have put their long time love affair at a critical impasse.
WAX, Dir. Blackman MARK J (UK. Fiction, social, 5 mins) – 'A man. A child. Water. Death. A surreal allegory.'
WHEN BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE DO UGLY THINGS, Dir. Monica MINGO (USA. Fiction, drama, 20 mins) – "When Beautiful People Do Ugly Things" surrounds the 24 hours around a wedding. 12 beautiful hours before. 12 ugly hours after.
And there you have it! There are at least 20 more that I could have listed, and those that I have listed are not necessarily what I think will be the best short films, but the ones that piqued my interest the most. Plus, I had to stop somewhere and 20’s a good number.
But before I go, and because we’re hanging out on the corner, here’s a little sand dancing for your passing pleasure.