You’ll find everything from sleek crime stories to experimental art in DC Shorts’ Showcase 13. Top to bottom, it might not be the strongest, but it’s worth the price of admission for two stand-outs: the feel-good, animal-human love story Josephine and the Roach and the concept-driven Stalled.
Close Your Eyes: A coming-of-age story about a visually-impaired (not blind) Puerto Rican New York City teen who wants to be a photographer. Writer/director Sonia Malfa plays with that contradiction, bathing her scenes in vibrant colors that her lead character, Irmani, cannot see. It’s a satisfying visual feast.
Josephine and the Roach (pictured above): A poor, lonely housewife plays the accordion in her kitchen, while a cockroach living in her wall duets on the violin. Director Jonathan Langager packs a lot of story—-and even more feeling—-into this 15-minute film. A complete, unique love story between the two most unlikely suspects ever—-and a must-see.
El Hombre Equivocado (The Wrong Man): A first date between a simple shoe salesman and an exotic sea archaeologist reveals a series of mutual deceptions. A stylish and sleek love story from Spain, its reversals of character don’t have the impact it would in a longer film with more character building.
Elon + Emmanuelle: Two hipsters sit on a city bench and watch their imaginary selves dance with each other as figures on a wall. Just as cute, cloying, and easy to digest as it sounds.
Eyes on the Stars: Ronald McNair was an astronaut who died aboard the Challenger shuttle, which exploded seconds after take-off in 1986. He was also only the second black astronaut ever. Eyes on the Stars animates a story told by his brother of when Ronald broke a significant color barrier in his South Carolina hometown by checking out books at whites-only library. Sweet and lovingly told.
New Spain: New Spain manages to tell a complete story in 68 seconds, and that alone is an accomplishment. Beyond that, there is not much to recommend. A deep Spanish baritone narrates the story of a boy who died for a cause, and a father who took his revenge, but we never see any of the action.
Sci-Fly: If there were an award for the Short Most Likely to Trigger an Acid Flashback, Sci-Fly would win in a walk. I’m still not sure what I saw here, but it reminded me of the experimental stretch of Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. Luckily, it’s more tolerable when it’s only six minutes long.
Stalled: A clever dramatic exercise, in which a woman janitor cleans a public bathroom, inhabiting a different character in each bathroom stall. It doesn’t make much sense, until you understand the idea behind the film: The entire script is composed of lines the filmmaker found written on bathroom stalls. Good work turning it into a film but an even better performance by writer/actor Meghan Gardiner.
Not reviewed from this showcase: 911, for which a screener was not available
Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at Angelika Film Center
Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. at E Street Cinema
Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. at Anacostia Arts Center