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Showcase 2 might be the strongest crop of films in this year’s festival. Loosely tied together with the theme “Lend a Helping Hand,” Showcase 2 highlights include a cute animated film about a tiny mouse who cleans up your house, a dark look at a suicide prevented, and a sweet little doc about an older couple’s love of caring for animals. 

Carlo

Carlo, a pencil pusher, whose object of affection is constantly whisked out of his grasp by his slimy boss, takes refuge in a world of his own creation hidden in his closet. He takes a chance to break out of monotony but I’d rather Carlo learn to speak up for himself and refrain from sneaking photos of his paramour (unnamed), whom he later rescues. The brilliant animation and delightful design pack in enough clever moments, however, to make up for the narrative cliché.

Self Portrait

A sweet peek into coping with illness through love. Never cloying, this film is why animated shorts exist: to give life to the stories we have a hard time seeing in real life.  

Perfect Houseguest

Short, sweet, and to the point. A cute animated film about a tiny mouse who cleans up your house. If only.  

Pickle

Pet lovers beware: this short about the many animals under a couple’s care is not for the overly attached. But it is an amusing peek into an idiosyncratic couple’s life.  

Fennimore

A man who checks into a motel to kill himself gets a last-minute interruption by an unlikely guest. A dark subject deftly expressed.  

The Chop

When Yossi loses his job at the butcher shop, he pretends to be Muslim in order to get work at a Halal butcher. With the conceit built into the premise, the film still delivers, managing to remain clever and humorous over preachy or political.  

Everything

Would you break the law to save your child’s life? After a bone marrow donor backs out, a mother fights to save the life of her daughter, contravening the laws regulating bone marrow transplants. Based on the true story of Doreen Flynn, this film navigates the tricky ethical territory of a still-real dilemma for many families.  

Lend a Hand for Love

Can you even be shy about love in a world of digital dating? This film about two hands that take flight from their besotted, bashful neighbors, is a romance for the ages. Recalling Tim Burton at his best, it features some of the best hand acting you’ll ever see—hands down.  

Showcase 2 screens Thursday, Sept. 8 at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. at Landmark’s E Street Cinema.