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Well, smarier and I attended the Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival last night at the Cinerama (Of which norwescon was a sponsor!).

There were 20 films altogether. 10 were shown first, then an intermission - even the most intrepid of filmgoers require food eventually - then the remaining 10. Both shows were sold out and there was a long line of hopefuls to boot.  I was glad to see fandom turn out in force to support the festival; I saw many people I knew well as well as a number of faces I recognized.

Pat Booze showing off the Norwescon table!

It was a great honor for Norwescon to sponsor this festival; and the festival organizers were very gracious in permitting the convention to have a promo table with flyers, posters and enthusiastic people! (And a big THANK YOU to everyone who volunteered!)

William Sadorus showing off one of Norwescon's promo pieces about the P.K. Dick Awards held at the convention!

Both of us were very impressed with the consistently high quality of all of the films. There wasn't a single film I disliked; I simply preferred some films to others. After the showing, there was a little Q & A with the filmmakers who were present. Half of the films had representation last night which is a apparently a record for the festival.

A panoramic view of the Cinerama floor.

And here's the playlist. The program did not list them in playing order so I am relying on my memory (i.e. speak up!)

First Screening:                                                          Second Screening:
Die Schneider Krankheit (Spain)                              Elder Sign (Canada)
Director: Javier Chillon                                               Director: Joseph Nanni

To The Moon (USA)                                                Afterglow (USA) 
Director: Jacob Ospa                                                Director: Andres Anglade
The Control Master (UK)                                        Arthur's Lore (UK)
Director: Run Wrake                                                 Director: Vincent Lund & Matthew Cooke

The Kirkie (USA)                                                     Nanosporin A.I. (USA)
Director: James Krieg                                                Director: Stephen Hal Fishman

Extra*Ordinary (USA)                                            Burden (USA)
Director: Ian Christian Blanche                                   Director: Michael David Lynch

Beast of Burden (USA)                                            Hands Off! (USA)
Director: Sam Carter                                                 Director: Patrick Bosworth

Charlie Thistle (USA)                                              CC 2010 (USA)
Director: Bragi Schut, Jr.                                            Director: Travis Senger (Local filmmaker!)

Shuttle T-42 (USA)                                                  Singularity (USA) 
Director: Joon Hyung Kim                                         Director: Stephen Griffin

S.S. Humanity (USA)                                               Hangar No. 5 (USA)
Director: Matthew Ladensack                                    Director: Nathan Matsuda

Alma (Spain + USA)                                                 Third Days Child (USA) Local filmmaker! 
Director: Rodrigo Blaas                                              Director: SJ Chiro

Some (short) thoughts about each film:

Die Schneider Krankheit (which translates as The Schneider Disease): this film played out like one of those post-WWII documentary films, down to the footage which looked like stock footage - and wasn't. The amount of effort it took to make everything look authentic was amazing. (I know of one fan who didn't catch that fact in the credits and subtitles and was fooled.)

To The Moon: Well I'm a sucker for Gustav Holst so the minute the opening chords of 'Uranus' from The Planets began I was already predisposed to like this piece. One of the more humorous pieces of the evening; if Elmer Fudd had a British cousin in the 19th. century who visited the moon...well, you might have some idea of the hilarious mishaps that occur when you journey to the moon in a balloon.

The Control Master: This was an animated piece done using paper cutouts and images from 50's comics. While I loved the madcap nonstop action, I felt the plot was a little muddled. Still, very zany and fun.

The Kirkie: This one was for every one of us who has put on a Trek uniform and/or has felt terribly out of place in the 'real world.' But hey, this time the geek gets the girl...or at least her phone number!

Extra*Ordinary: My hubby's quote sums this up perfectly: "It's Heroes. Done right." This was one of his faves for the evening. Two friends. One has superpowers and one doesn't. And then the 'normal' friend finds out about his buddy's abilities. Not easy to show a friendship tested by secrets revealed and then resolve those issues in less then 15 minutes, but this film did just that and did it well.

Yes, the reader board really is working backwards!

Beast of Burden: You know it's a tough economy out there when even the monsters can't catch a break. Wally gets fired and gets support from his fellow ghouls. During the Q & A we learned that the little boy in the film actually came up with the central idea which the director then fleshed out. Hilarious!

Charlie Thistle: This one won the Audience's Choice Award last night. In terms of visual style, it reminds one of the films Pleasantville and Brazil.  And it's for everyone of us in Cubicleland who dreams of changing the world. I especially loved that it was sci-fi with ordinary people. Charlie is a mild-mannered clerk in the Department of Changes and Modifications. Every day he stamps incoming requests with a big official "no." But one day he wonders what would happen if he stamped those requests "yes." All I can say is: long live color!

Shuttle T-42: One of the shortest films of the evening; this one was a computer-animated tearjerker about a mother and son stranded on a distant planet. Mom has an accident and son sacrifices himself for mom...I won't spoil the rest; but this one proves that you don't need oodles of time to tell a good story.

S.S. Humanity: We both loved this film. This was another tearjerker. The earth's resources have been almost completely used up and the only hope for the survival of humanity is to go out into space. But the only way you can get a berth on the space station is by lottery. Dad managed to finagle tickets for himself, his wife and their son. During routine medical scanning upon boarding, they find out she is pregnant. They have only 3 tickets.  What happens next? This could have easily been over-sentimentalized but it was handled in an understated way that made the final denouement even more powerful.

Alma: This was another computer-animated piece that was beautifully done.  It's only flaw, IMHO, was that it was too predictable. The minute I saw the window that looked like a monster's maw I knew that the doll in the window that looked axactly like the girl on the street meant that something baaaadd was going to happen. Still, gorgeous work. And it is very difficult to tell a story well with no dialogue.

Elder Sign: A highly-effective infomercial touting the efficacy of Elder Sign - the only remedy for curing your overwhelming sense of dread brought on by the realization of your own cosmic insignificance. Hilarious!

Afterglow: What takes place after the aliens from space have been routed? Send teams out to make certain they are really gone. But the scars on the human pysche from the impact of such an invasion leave some nasty scars. This one had one hell of a twist at the end.  This film was one of several that felt like a prologue to the real story.

Arthur's Lore: Love the animated tattoos. And the banshees whose jaws distended with a creepy subtlety. And all the visual puns about various places in Arthurian Lore made me giggle. This film was a true dramedy, a nice meld of drama and comedy (The modern day Druid was a hoot!). Fun, fun, FUN!

Each of the sponsors had a screen during the pre-show slide show.

Nanosporin A.I.: Drug trip. And during the Q & A, the director discussed nanosporin as a substance taken to reorganize the insides as art, or words to that effect. Very beautiful. Almost hypnotic. Drug trip.

Burden:  This was another of the films that felt like a prologue. Well-done take on the lone outsider protecting an unsuspecting Earth. I want to know what happened next!

Hands Off!: Another humorous piece.  All I can say is: behavior has consequences! I laughed uproariously.

CC 2010:  This piece was beautifully filmed and more than a bit surrealistic. Never did figure out who-the-heck Sputnik was. Milkman or angel? Didn't matter cause it was so beautiful to watch.

Singularity: This one portrays an interesting tug-of-war between man and machine. I kept thinking the memory transfer didn't take because the android (like my kidlet) asserted his independence and self-identity by saying "no."  And since his creator downloaded everything into the android, effectively becoming the android...did the creator commit murder in destroying the android's personality? I'm still not sure. Thought-provoking.

Hangar No.5: This one was straight-forward action. I absolutely loved the killer robots; they looked real. And the old D & D rule still holds true: don't split up the party!

Third Days Child: This was another of our favorites; and it's another that could easily be made into a full-length feature. This was one of the pieces that really stuck with me; I am still thinking about it and haven't really figured what it is "about." Reproductive issues, as the Director stated in the Q & A? Family dynamics? Overpopulation? Politics? Terrorism? All of the above? I want to know what happens next!

All in all, beautifully crafted films that both made me laugh and made me think. And if this ever comes out on DVD or Blu-Ray, consider getting a copy - it's worth it.  Which reminds me, many of the filmmakers are still touring the festival circuit; but many mentioned that they might put their films online for viewing so search for them!