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  • Brandon MacMurray

The Old Young Crow Review and other Palm Springs Shortfest Highlights

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

This past week ShotStick was spending our time making our way through the Palm Springs Shortfest Virtual Best of Fest package. Here are some of the highlights from a packed full festival:

1) Best of Fest Winner: The Old Young Crow

Having been to Japan myself recently, The Old Young Crow brought back instant memories of waking up in Tokyo to the cawing of crows each morning. It's is a short that is well-edited and beautifully blended together. Here is our review written by contributor Robin Hellgren:

In this film from writer/director/producer Liam LoPinto we follow Mehrdad reminiscing on a turbulent time of his youth when he moved to Tokyo from Japan after the passing of his mother. The story touches many big topics such as grief, cultural differences, religious beliefs, the afterlife and finding how you fit into this vast world - all of which is befittingly brief for a narration that follows the thoughts and feelings of a young boy.

All of this is beautifully and seamlessly brought to life by interweaving the real life live action scenes with animation and special effects using the young boys drawings as a narrative tool. Through a mixture of practical effects such as hand drawn stop motion and editorial effects such as cutting between a drawing of food and the live action version of the same dish all the way to special effects overlays or partially animated scenes - the story feels playful yet layered in a way that makes you want to revisit it before the credits has even rolled.

2) Under G-d

Given the Dobbs Supreme Court decision last year of overturning Roe vs. Wade, there has been a slew of Roe v Wade related documentaries filtering out. This documentary short may have the most compelling perspective and case against the Supreme Courts decision that I have seen. It is very clear and concise in its message and shows how religions are using the laws of the red "pro-life" states against themselves. As far as we know this has not won any qualifying awards after coming out of Sundance, but if this gets qualified watch for it to be a player in the shortlist race.

3) The LGBTQ+ shorts

One of the best parts of Palm Springs Shortfest is that it always brings inclusivity to its program through it's MOZIAK Bridging the Borders award and its LGBTQ+ short award. The Palm Springs VIrtual Best of Fest had four excellent LGBTQ shorts on the program this year. Keep an eye out for these at your future festivals! Below are a quick synopsis of each.

Blond Night, Directed by Gabrielle Demers: One Friday night, Victor makes his escape and leaves his residence for adults with autism. Seeking freedom, he meets Jessy with whom he spends the night. Thanks to their encounter, Victor reconnects with himself and asserts his own identity.

Between Her, Directed by Bar Cohen: Aya is a trans girl who is frustrated by her love life and experiences with men. An accidental encounter with a man from her distant past causes her to reconnect with her identity.

Burial of Life As a Young Girl, Directed by Maïté Sonnet: Axelle is having the worst day of her life: while she is recovering badly from a break-up, she has to go to her sister’s bachelorette party in a ghostly spa in the mountains. Fortunately, among the guests, there is Marguerite. Through one gaze, love is awaken again.

An Avocado Pit, Directed by Ary Zara: LARISSA, A TRANS WOMAN AND CLÁUDIO, A CIS MAN, MEET ONE NIGHT, IN THE STREETS OF LISBON. Two people, two realities, who dance their differences away till morning light. In challenge, in surprise, in awe and in recognition. An empowering story, free from violence and filled with light and hope for the better days yet to come.

4) Brenda Cullerton in Endless Sea

Endless Sea was awarded a special mention in the Best Live Action Over 15 minutes category due to the performance of Brenda Cullerton and yes, it was very deserving. You would never know that Brenda Cullerton doesn't have many acting credits to her name as she is phenomenal in this short playing a woman named Carol. She is completely believable as a woman down on her luck trying to find a solution after the cost of her heart medication triples. As she tries to scrape by with a flower delivery job and is in the bad books with her family, she has nowhere to go. Although it was far from a perfect short, I couldn't deny the acting job she put on.



The short end of the stick: The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal

When it comes to cinema and the Oscars it always feels like short films and getting the short end of the stick. Lack of coverage, lack of predictions from experts and an afterthought in the conversation. With this site we hope to change that, highlighting shorts that stick with you, predictions, and news on what is happening in the world of shorts. 

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