CineVegas’ second and final shorts program wasn’t as strong as the first, and some of the more arty, experimental entries were particularly bad (I’m still puzzling over and annoyed by Andrew Mausert-Mooney’s Flok). As in the first shorts program, the best efforts were generally the small character studies, most notably Myna Joseph’s Man, a beautiful and touching story about a pair of teenage sisters dealing with emerging sexuality in very different ways. It had a lovely naturalistic look and wonderful performances from Sarah Steele and Addison Timlin as the sisters.
Matt Jesperson’s I’m Pretty, Too was a funny and oddly warm take on suicide and friendship, mining laughs from potentially unpleasant material. Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s Sikumi, a Sundance Institute project, offered a nice twist on a rather familiar hard-boiled crime trope, as an innocent bystander witnesses a murder and gets caught up in its aftermath. The difference being that the characters are Inuits and the murder takes place on a frozen lake in the dead of winter.
On the slightly less conventional front, I really liked Kelly Sears’ The Drift, yet another film told almost entirely in still photos (the images here appear to all be stock photos from the 1950s and ’60s). Its narrated story of a mysterious, enticing song that invades Earth’s airwaves from space was creepy and sort of poetic, and had a similar mix of genre material and emotional poignancy to David Lowery’s A Catalog of Anticipations, still probably my favorite short of the fest.
And I will say that while I don’t think I quite understood Benh Zeitlin’s Glory at Sea, it did have a sort of strange, enticing beauty to it, and that’s certainly worth something.