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  • Brandon MacMurray

Tribeca Film Festival Exit Survey

Hats off to the Tribeca programmers for giving us such a deep slate of shorts this year. When it came down to it we had a hard time deciding what to review, so the four of us thought we would have a bit of fun. Instead of just doing a few more reviews we are doing a little exit survey where we can spread the love around a little to a bunch of quality shorts to check out. Thanks to Tribeca for an incredible festival and all the filmmakers who had us going through every emotion while watching your shorts. Without further ado, Josh, Robin, Brandon and Pedro are her to answer some questions!!!

  1. To start off, what was your favourite live action short you saw at the festival? 

Josh: Swollen

Both the funniest and scariest film of the festival, Swollen has everything: a miniature castle, Hot Cops, rear projection, bisexual lightning, a split diopter, and the most inventive practical VFX this side of Coppola’s Dracula. An absolute riot of Gen Z genius from beginning to end.

Robin: It would have to be Alarms (Apnées), fantastic framing and edge-of-the-seat intensity which culminates in a perfectly timed crescendo.

Brandon: So many good ones to choose from, and it came down to three. The short that has grown the most on me and I haven't stopped thinking about is Swollen and Alarms definitely gave me that stressed out feel that I get while watching some of my favourite shorts and movies. However, I think I am going to go with BITE for this one. BITE is based off the director/writer's personal experience and takes a unique and resonating approach to a wide variety of topics such as PTSD, overcoming trauma, self-doubt and gaslighting. The acting from Troian Bellisario is great and it is crafted with such vivid and memorable production and costume design. 

Pedro: It’s a challenging one. Tribeca’s programming this year was outstanding. The last film I saw was the one that stood out the most to me: Bloomed in Water. An excellent discussion about patriarchy, immigration, and being a parent. A magnificent work of directing by Joanne Mony Park.

2. What animated short was your favourite at the festival?

Robin: I will cheat a bit and spread the joy by shouting out my runner up here - Nate & John. I thought the animation style suited the topic well and the theme of life reduced down to a few key moments is something that often works well for me in a sort of bitter sweet melancholic way.

Brandon: Despite having a really strong animated block, this one was easy for me. LUKi and the Lights emotionally destroyed me and was no doubt my favourite animated short at the fest. Although special mention to Ruthless Blade which had some mind-blowing animation and story-telling. 

Pedro: I loved Nate & John. It is a sweet film: about the relationship between a client and his barber, narrating their bond throughout the years. It reminded me of my relationship with my barber, Edvaldo, who has been trimming my hair since I was three.

Josh: Ruthless Blade

Takashi Miike meets Cute Overload in this ingenious rush of colour and motion where cats are ferocious samurai out for revenge. A silly last-minute twist remixes all the violent swordplay of the 12-minute animated marvel; I would watch a full Netflix series of this!

3. What was your favourite documentary short at the festival?

Brandon: Makayla's Voice: A Letter to the World won the prize in this category and I thought pretty deservingly so. After winning Oscar-qualifying awards at Cleveland and now at Tribeca it definitely has potential to be in the conversation for the category come Oscar season. The short is very sweet and touching and made me deeply empathize with Makayla. I also learned a ton about non-verbal autism through it. 

Pedro: Stud Country messed me up. A heartfelt documentary about the new generation of line-dancing gay bars in LA, while it also pays homage to the OG bar dancing, Old Can’s Harry. Within only ten minutes, it successfully engages, impresses, and narrates a captivating history.

Josh: Bright White Light

An almost overwhelming exploration of various witnesses’ experience with near-death encounters. Given an astonishing monochrome look, these accounts will bring you to tears.

Robin: In terms of representation alone I really want to mention Makayla’s Voice: A Letter to the World. It is fantastic to see Autism presented on the big screen in a way that does not focus on the negatives or limitations, and instead plays like a biopic of this remarkable individual.

4. What was your favourite performance of any of the shorts?

Pedro: Anna Khaja is fantastic in Kasbi. She portrays a vulnerable woman afraid of discovering her sexuality at an older age. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. She transmits her emotions through body language and her eyes. A marvelous work.

Josh: Anna Khaja, Kasbi

As middle-aged housewife Maryam, Anna Khaja gives a hearrbreaking performance as a woman who is trying to get what she wants for the first time in her life. In KasbiKhaja makes years of repression visible on her face and in each line of devastating dialogue.

Robin: This is probably the toughest question of all to answer, lots of great and very nuanced performances to choose from. One that immediately comes to mind is Katelyn Rose Downey playing the titular role of Clodagh. But on the other end of the spectra I also want to shout out Zine Tseng for her leading role in Learning English.

Brandon: When I was trying to answer this question I made a shortlist of my ten favourite performances to choose from. I am really glad to see Robin above mention a couple of the ones from my list in Katelyn Rose Downey from Clodagh and Zine Tseng from Learning English (who were both excellent). But my answer for this one though has to be Dona Atallah in Ebb & Flow who puts on an incredibly believable performance as a teenager trying to navigate life amidst chaos. 

5. There were some tear jerkers here. Which short had you sobbing or at the verge of tears?

Josh: Clodagh

The story of a young Irish dancer with incredible talent, Clodagh touches the heart with its tender humanity. This is especially true in the performance of Bríd Ní Neachtain as Mrs. Kelly, the church caretaker and local dance teacher, who must use her faith to make an important decision.

Robin: Admittedly I struggled to keep it together for a handful of shorts in this year's lineup, but the one that really got to me was LUKi & the Lights. I highly recommend it, but if you or someone close to you is suffering from ALS you may want to tread lightly.

Brandon: A repeat answer for me hear but as mentioned, LUKi and the Lights was devastating. Between Wall-E and last years Robot Dreams, there is something about animated robots that experience human emotion that really gets to me!

Pedro: Passarinho had me in tears. The sports and family connection got me very hard. Football is something me and my father have bonded over since I was a baby. He got my first football. He would take me to play and bought Palmeiras kits for me. It had me thinking about all these moments, and I couldn’t hold back the tears.

6. Name a scene from a short that you couldn't help but laugh?

Robin: I often find myself seeking out comedies at festivals simply because they offer a welcome break from a lot of the tough to watch dramas that tend to get booked otherwise. For Tribeca there was luckily lots of options, but I want to specifically shout out the scene from Camping in Paradise when Viggo tries to sell a very reluctant Christian on the nudist lifestyle.

Brandon: I really loved the puns in Jane Austen's Period Drama, The Sir Vicks line was definitely my favourite one-liner that got a guffaw out of me. I was also in stiches during the scene in Camping in Paradise when Christian was being chased by the mob of nudists. 

Pedro: Favourites has a pretty precise joke with Sophie's Choice plot, and I couldn't stop laughing. The set-up is great, and the revelation is incredibly funny. The scene after the emergency room dilemma in a gas station is so awkward and funny. Very effective comedy in just five minutes.

Josh: Favourites

It’s a miracle that Favourites can tell a complete story in its sub-five-minute runtime, but the fact that it will have you howling with laughter, too? Favourites couldn’t be topped in laughs per minute for the whole festival.

7. Lastly as we close up, is there any other short(s) that you would like to give a shoutout to for any particular reason?

Brandon: Yes! Dirty Towel. I thought this short did an amazing job with showing how harmful and toxic the dirty towel comparison was and the shame it can cause. From my own personal life, I grew up going to church and I vividly remember a similar metaphor being used there. It was a lollipop where the pastor speaking to us took a wrapper off a lollipop, licked it and told us after having sex you would be unwanted like that used lollipop. It was such a harmful comparison to so many people there that day. Dirty Towel was truly sex-positive in the best way.

Pedro: Clodagh is a pleasant movie that explores dance and the Catholic ethos. I liked how it dealt with both themes. David Again got me touched by its approach to addiction and reconnecting with friends. A Family Guide to Hunting is funny and tense, a blast. My Best Friend is emotional and thoughtful with its topic. Original Skin brings a fabulous premise. It was an amazing selection.

Josh: The Cost of Flesh

A breathtakingly smart and absolutely horrifying short film where the camera doesn’t move even once, and all of the “action” of the film is seen in the reflection of the victim’s eye. Shocking, nasty, and gruesome—I can’t wait to see it again.

Robin: In terms of concept alone I thought Ebb & Flow had a really interesting angle on a coming of age storyline set in a society troubled by war times. It truly puts into focus how your world at that age is so focused and consuming.



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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