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See DC Shorts’ Showcase 6 to laugh. Or be charmed. Or be moved by stories of love—-which are funny and charming. But politics and international social commentary? Perhaps too complex for a 17-minute film. Likewise, sometimes freaky tales need a bit more context. But the failures in this showcase breeze by so quickly you may still have a smile on your face from the rest.
Fanfare for Marching Band (pictured above): This film about a marching band that has free rein over New York City, from Central Park to Grand Central to a supermarket, is odd but compelling—-to a point. While the members of the band are in full celebration mode with choreographed dance and music, regular folks are frozen in the background. The short’s synopsis describes it as “an inept invasion through a parallel universe,” a detail that will likely elude you. But you will know when the gimmick gets tiresome about halfway through.
Karen Returns Something to Scott: Scott is in the vestibule of a church, about to get married. But first he has to wait for his ex-girlfriend, Karen, to bring him an item that he wants to incorporate into the ceremony. Inevitably there’s relationship rehashing—-and then a twist you won’t see coming. It’s far-fetched, but will still elicit a giggle.
The Daughter: The details of this five-minute Spanish creeper are a bit difficult to make out at first. The titular daughter, Fatima, has a bucket full of something, which you soon realize are balloons. She’s at home with her father, who’s barely paying attention to her. When he drifts off to sleep—-well, he wakes up wishing he hadn’t. The final scene is a head-scratcher, but you will feel disturbed.
Obama Is Me: Here, despite its serious message, is the showcase’s Razzie. Parisian friends of various races are celebrating the election of Barack Obama in 2008, claiming that “real change will happen now, even in France.” The film divides into two related plots, but the subtitles move fast and it’s unclear what’s going on in either. Hate crimes are involved, however, so if nothing else, you’ll understand that the filmmaker is trying to say that regardless of who’s in charge, society still has its ugly side.Schnipples: Mr. Harold is a recent widower who was married to his wife for 53 years. She had a cat named Schnipples, so dear to her that she had him stuffed. So Mr. Harold is traveling to her grave, with others handling the cat’s transport, to bury the kitty next to the one who loved him the most. The film is both sweet (“You’ll be together again,” the man tells his wife in the cemetery) and a comedy of errors. It’s live-action Pixar.
Today I Will Tell Her: This quick-moving story with a very casual narrator/main character (“Yeah, it’s one of those deals,” he says after describing, well, the deal) is the most entertaining short of the showcase—-at least until the preview screener cut off after three minutes. But in that brief span, the film is packed with jokes, mostly consisting of our protagonist’s thoughts as he goes to tell a longtime female friend that he loves her.
To Cut a Long Story Short: The title doesn’t lie; this film runs just over two minutes. With a fast-talking British narrator who appropriately sounds like Russell Brand, the story is about a musician who treats groupies the way musicians do. The voice-over is matched, when possible, with literal images, whether his words are actually on an ad, say, or a shot of a rooster when its more vulgar synonym is meant. It’s terrific, amusing piece with excellent editing; bonus points for a Simpsons reference.
Umba-Umba: This wordless, black-and-white animation follows a simply drawn kitty who follows some simply drawn miners as they work. You may not pick up on a detail given by the film’s synopsis—-much of it is, after all, very dark—-but it’s charming nonetheless.
Not reviewed in this showcase: Chinatown, for which an advance screener was not available.
Showcase 6 showtimes (see a complete schedule):
Sept. 20 at 9:30 p.m. at E Street Cinema Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at E Street Cinema Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center