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Josh Bell’s favorites from this year’s Dam Short Film Festival

Nicholas VanDevender’s Sponsini

Box This surreal, seemingly nonsensical film about a cardboard box that carries mysterious significance uses mannered dialogue and bizarre juxtapositions to create something meaningful and affecting in its oddness.

Solo, Piano - NYC This documentary told via still photographs is a simple but beautiful evocation of both bold optimism and wistful regret, all embodied in a discarded piano left on a New York City sidewalk.

The Basketball Game The trend in animated shorts is toward wordless expressionism, so this illustrated monologue about an unlikely summer-camp summit (an athletic contest between Jewish kids and students who were taught by a bigoted teacher to hate Jews) stands out for its effective mix of words and pictures.

Sposini The jury award winner for Nevada filmmaking is a quick, stylish take on marital discord, with a newlywed couple literally killing and burying each other in the desert. Director Nicholas VanDevender is clearly a local filmmaker to watch.

Interview Date A simple premise (a mix-up between a blind date and a job interview) leads to some sharp wordplay and expertly paced farce in the festival’s most effective comedy (which won the jury award in that category).


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  • The film features Sylvester Stallone’s best performance in a long time.

  • Not surprisingly for Pixar, the animation is gorgeous to look at, and it’s solid, pleasurable entertainment for kids.

  • Eilis is a good person who deserves a good life, and even through her occasional inner turmoil, she’s able to achieve it.

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