Short reviews of films from this year’s DC Shorts Film Festival

There aren’t many standouts in this mostly unremarkable set of shorts, though the squirm factor is high: Tastes Like Chicken? borrows a page from Food Inc. to tell the story of a chicken who longs to escape her certain death, and Shabbat Dinner offers up some sweet, sweet teenage self-discovery.

The Camera: A young woman discovers a spooooky haunted Polaroid camera in an empty beach house. But this wordless, eight-minute short almost turns into a tearjerker when it becomes clear what the camera’s images reveal.

Tastes Like Chicken?: “Is it worth having being born to live like this?” Oh, God, no! Run or be killed, little chicken! Along the lines of Food Inc., Tastes Like Chicken? goes inside Big Poultry to reveal the horrors within, but this is an escape story told from the perspective of an unusually prescient chicken who decides to make a run for it. Not recommended for the squeamish.

Sitting Babies: Ugh, a black comedy about an evil kid. A little shit takes advantage of his awkward babysitter, blah blah blah. Fortunately, this director knows when to wrap it up.

Shabbat Dinner: There’s some fine acting in this short film, which begins when a pair of married couples get together for dinner and introduce their teenage sons, William and Virgo, to each other. Virgo is gay, you see, and William is “not gay” and horny, so things naturally fall into place.

Neighbors: When keeping up with the Joneses goes wrong: Tim has a deep and dangerous obsession with his portly neighbor, Al, which starts with a shirt, and ends with Tim furiously Googling “GLORIOUS DEATHS” to beat Al in the afterlife.

Late: A woman is crying in a cafe. Is that usually a good time to try to get to know her? In this director’s mind, it sure is. Apparently aroused by troubled strangers, a fumbling slacker-cute kind of guy wants to chat up this mysterious weeping lady. She’s kind of into it, but their connection flickers when it’s dampened by the restraints of boring ol’ life.

La Boda (The Wedding): Mirta hasn’t slept well in three days, too busy preparing for her daughter’s wedding. She gets canned from her job cleaning offices in Madrid and has to borrow a dress from her friend’s rich employer. She can’t afford to get her hair and makeup done. But she’s determined to be present for her daughter’s ceremony—-which begins at 6 p.m., in Cuba.

Flawless Life: A forgettable animated short about a homeless man who lucks out in a Dumpster.

Saturday, Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial (followed by Q&A)

Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 9 p.m. at E Street Cinema

Sunday, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial