Light SightDirected by Seyed M. Tabatabaei
Does Gumby dream of electric sheep?
Ode to LesvosDirected by Talal Derki
This moving minidoc, about a Greek fishing village that became a crucial waystation for Syrian refugees, withholds a lot of information (names, dates, and the like) to make a powerful point about the residents’ stoic generosity—but it also withholds a crucial part of the story. Skala Sikamineas lies on Lesbos, to which many refugees crossed from Turkey; here, we learn about the poor and tranquil place they landed, paired with evocative images of struggle and suffering, like piles of lifejackets. If only, you’ll wonder, we could hear from the people who wore them.
Oil Men Directed by Samuel Larson
This is, I assume, what Terrence Malick’s dreams look after he’s gone to bad with an upset stomach. We’ve got moon-eyed voiceovers, sun-dappled landscapes, the implication of oil-inflicted natural devastation, lots of unearned gravitas. Eventually a story flickers into view, about a petroleum researcher and her dying mother, who once trucked the stuff. A fast-arriving epiphany accompanies a Lee Hazlewood-channelling cowboy anthem, which does as much heavy lifting as a Texas pumpjack.
REPAIRations! The MusicalDirected by Courtney Miller
A wow-‘em hip-hop musical—set against the end of American slavery, the last gasp of Jim Crow, and the dawning of the Obama era, with original raps and well-choreographed set pieces to boot. The name suggests a film about the centuries-long denial of black dignity and wealth in this country—which it is—but the argument it lands on has more to do with personal bootstrapping, not societal recompense.
Thank You Mister ImadaDirected by Sylvain Chomet
A French-language narrative film about the making of a narrative film, in which a respected auteur lodges eccentric commands at his actors (including a former mime, who must impersonate a box getting out of a box, and a leading man who is told to always point his chin up); on top of the abuse, they have to perform a scene around what appears to be an actual corpse. Hilarious, and plainly on the side of directors—after the making-off, we see the final cut of Mister Imada’s scene, and it’s brilliant.
The Nest EggDirected by Lucy Patrick Ward
Anyone who experiences a great loss searches for some kind of meaning in its aftermath; why not, in order to do so, dress up as a chicken and allow strangers to pay a pound to throw eggs at you? This quirky, finely acted English short has eccentric touches, a significant depth of emotion, and a feel-good sensibility, a fine thing in 14 minutes. I’ll wince for the chicken man the next time I make an omelet.
The Whole WorldDirected by Julian Quintanilla
This hefty Spanish short is an earnest, inventive, occasionally fiery Almodovarian romp about stewardship, regret, identity, and the supernatural. A son visits the grave of his mother, and out she pops in spectral form. They gab and they reminisce, and then he receives a task: make right the ways she let down her gay son and their gay neighbor, who faced discrimination in explicit and subtle ways.
Showcase 5 screens Thursday, Sept. 7 at 12 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. at Landmark’s E Street Cinema.