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A relatively heavy selection of films in terms of content, with some shorts that tug hard on the heart strings. But do not fear. There’s plenty of comedy and animation in the mix to make this set light enough to digest on a Friday eve. Here are my thoughts on Showcase 4 which will make its screening debut tonight at 9 pm at the US Navy Memorial Center.

Breathe. Focus. Octopus.: Although no discernible storyline exists in this 48 hour film project about a group of people meditating in a D.C. park, it does draw interesting attention to our often unfocused minds.

Delmer Builds a Machine: An utterly adorable look at one little boy’s adventures in the backyard that yield wildly unexpected results, for both the character and, happily, the viewer.

In the Hills of Deleij: Inspired by the atrocities of Darfur, this short is a departure from what is decidedly a comedy-heavy festival. Yet for a fiction venture, the film successfully brings attention the concept that both the victim and the victimizer can be casualties of genocide.

Katrina’s Son: This drama is not so much about Hurricane Katrina, its aftermath, or its orphaned children. Rather, it’s an emblem of forgotten children everywhere. It’s a heavy piece but one that’s thoughtfully shot, acted, and directed. 

L1feline: Sixteen minutes of melodramatic dialogue between a call center employee and a man from his past leave you wondering whether this short was ever intended for the big screen.

L.A. Bag Brothers: These brothers clean up messed of the corpse kind, both human and beast. Add in fake Russian accents and trench coats, and the cliche’s complete. 

Kosher Pig: This short about a young Asian woman who was raised by a Jewish family and seeks out her biological parents was intended to be a comedy but falls short on laughs as it bows to every overdone stereotype.  

Poodle Trainer: This short documentary portrayal of Irina, a Russian poodle trainer, is an exquisite piece of cinematography, replete with a visual dance of Vaudeville-esque imagery and colors. Yet despite all the visual decadence, one is left hoping for a depper exploration into Irina’s solitary life and past. 

Out of Zinc: A young man’s roommate slips him the wrong vitamin, resulting in a night to remember, or maybe not. A cute flick but short on substance as it’s humor relied entirely on a British narrator repeatedly pronouncing the pills as “veetamins”.

The Moon Bird: Like a dazzling picture book, this animation takes viewers on a fantastical journey of one little girl through a dark world of demons and evil creatures, lit only by mythical moon fairies. While soothing in music and visuals, one might need to watch this short more than once to figure out what’s actually going on.

Your Lucky Day: This short about the events following a lottery ticket win packs a lot of punch—action, suspense and a greater commentary on greed.

Showcase 4 will also screen on the following days:

Saturday, Sept.r 11 at 8:00pm at E Street Cinema
(followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers)
Sunday, Sept.
12 at 10:00pm at E Street Cinema
Monday, Sept. 13 at 6:00pm at E Street Cinema

Tickets are available at dcshorts.com