An annual celebration of world cinema, AFI FEST presented by Audi serves as a showcase for both established auteurs and new voices – with the latter represented nowhere better than in the festival’s various Shorts programs. These capsule narratives capture the diverse perspectives of their respective makers, giving life to tales that span the spectrum – from the personal to the public, the dramatic to the comedic and the sublime to the ridiculous.
In October 2013, a boat carrying 500 African refugees sank off the coast of the Italian island Lampedusa, and more than 360 people drowned. In SHIPWRECK (Shorts Program 3), Dutch filmmaker Morgan Knibbe views the survivors, the mourners, the press and the police from the perspective of the ghost of one of the deceased refugees in order to reveal the full story of the disaster and its aftermath.
A simple premise – waking up with a stranger after a wild night – forms the basis for two shorts with little else in common. Chloe Domont’s HAZE (Shorts Program 1 – World Premiere) follows a young woman who wakes up after a night of revelry to a splitting headache and a strange man in her bed. As he struggles to explain what happened the night before, misunderstandings lead to misplaced aggression. In a altogether different spin, Dustin Guy Defa’s PERSON TO PERSON (Shorts Program 2) humorously chronicles a record store owner’s day-long struggle to oust a young woman he finds sleeping in his apartment the morning after a party.
Part of a full program of animated films, MIGRATION (Shorts Program 4) traces the journey of a fictional herd wandering wordlessly through towns, fields and forests, seeking refuge in the sea. By combining the visual aesthetics of home movies and vintage nature documentaries with a whimsical animated creature, Montreal-based art duo Fluorescent Hill create a new, yet oddly familiar, world.
Recipient of a Short Film Special Jury Award for Unique Vision at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, RAT PACK RAT is featured in a Midnight program along with eight other boundary-pushing shorts (Shorts Program 5). In writer-director Todd Rohal’s twisted tale, a Sammy Davis, Jr. impersonator hired via Craigslist to perform for a boy’s birthday party, discovers that he’s not the only part of this job that isn’t what it appears to be.
Some of AFI FEST’s shorts are featured outside of their dedicated categories, accompanying features with complementary themes, styles or creative teams. Inspired by a personal experience, Geneviève Dulude-Decelles’ THE CUT (playing before the feature film TU DORS NICOLE) captures a simple moment when a young girl cuts her father’s hair, providing an intimate look at their evolving relationship. THE CUT received the Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The AFI FEST
The AFI FEST Shorts program screening times are below: