HollyShorts 2016: Alumni Block - Film Reviews

This year's HollyShorts Alumni block had a huge variety of different films of all genres. This selection ran the gamut between funny and scary, heartbreaking and powerful, and everything in between.

Ballon

The life of a ballet dancer can be incredibly difficult. There is so much pressure to perform, to be perfect, and to remain in such perfect shape that it can be tough to maintain that sometimes. Life spins a bit out of control. That is especially true for one dancer who crumbles during one of her biggest audition, a penalty for the life of partying and drug use that she's been maintaining.

Director Alexis O. Korycinski really captures the struggles of dancers and the lives they must lead to make sure they keep in perfect shape.


One Good Pitch

Fathers and sons have interesting relationships. They can be stressful, full of pressures, and full of love. That is especially true when it comes to those who pursue sports. In this short piece, a young son struggles to provide one decent pitch while playing baseball with his father. The struggles are real and get especially so at the end, when the struggles seem to be about more than baseball.

Parker Hill directs a wonderful story about family and the unbreakable bonds that occur during times of strife.


Almost Home


The trials of those at war are painful, and that is especially true for the brave men and women who fight overseas for our own freedoms. To have to break bad news to those back home can be even worse. This short film focuses on one man who not only has to fight, but has to battle demons and pain once he gets back home, as well.

Directed by B.J. Golnick, written by Golnick and Jeremy Oliver Miller, and starring both Golnick and Miller, this is a powerful story about war, the bonds it creates, and the effects that must be dealt with after coming home.


Time to Eat

This is one of the more odd films I've seen at this year's festival but still one of the most interesting. A young boy, waiting for a meal from his mother, plays with a ball. After it takes a trip to the basement, the boy must as well, leading to a very strange revelation and an even stranger conclusion.

The Luke Guidici film is fun, light, and very strange, but it makes for a really good time.


Emmet in Peopleland

This is probably one of my favorites from the festival so far. While all the films have been of stellar quality, this heartwarming tale of a homeless man that gets taken on a very wild ride is weird, funny, and absolutely entertaining.

Alan Shearman made a quirky and terrific film that was helped by the terrific cast, including writer Larry Hankin, Howard Hessman, and a cameo from the terrific Fred Willard.


A Northern Star

This moving story focuses on an older woman in a senior living community and the young boy who wanders in and changes her life. Edna is letting life pass her by inside this community and looks pretty unhappy - that is until Mateo, a young special needs child, makes his way into her room and lights up her life. Her imagination runs wild as she puts on a show for young Mateo, with all that she imagines coming to life on-screen.

Francisco Solozano's touching piece is a beautiful film about imagination and love.


Ride Shared

With services like Uber and Lyft becoming more and more popular, ride sharing has become something that is now just a part of the mainstream culture. Riding with strangers has proven to be one of the oddest situations and one that allows people to really open up, considering they'll likely never see this person again. The film focuses on one driver who has to deal with one of these situations, and his mood seems to take a pretty significant drop after bad news is dropped and the ride ends.

Kim Noonan brings together a terrific piece about the new culture of ride sharing and the phenomenon that revolves around it.


Incarnate

This is one of the creepier of the short films this year, as it follows a young boy who has visions, the truth of which is doubted by his father. The father allows it to continue, humoring his son's story until he makes his way to a small home in the middle of nowhere, a place his son promises is the place in which an event happened to the young boy in his past life.

Marcello Barbaro and Nicolas Spadaccini made a very strange, but thrilling, short film that brings a supernatural element to things in a very strange way.


Somniloquy

This is another scary one that focuses on a young boy and a strange knife that was given to him by his father. Without spoiling how this story ends, the film takes on a supernatural turn as the father returns home.

A film by James Card, it's spooky, supernatural, and really fascinating.


The End of Mara

Another thrilling sci-fi tale, this story focuses on a strange world where there are some who come back from the dead and a government-like society that hunts them down. Mara, a woman whose husband has come back from the dead, is on the run with only a government agent aiding her in secret.

This is a very odd film and one that doesn't feel fully developed in its current phase, but it's incredibly interesting and wonderfully prepared by director Kim Garland.


The Barry and Ro Show

This may have been my favorite of this block of films, which is saying something, because all of them have been incredible. This focuses on the talk show-hosting couple of Barry and Ro as they film a promo for the new season of their show. This takes a turn as the couple shows the cracks in their relationship, allowing personal problems and in-fighting to really take down the filming of the spot.

It's funny, biting, and entertaining, as director Jordan Liebowitz really nails the aesthetic of the older talk show vibe.


Chameleon

In Canada, many immigrants face the same difficulties of getting work that are faced in America. Without social insurance numbers, they have to take terrible work or none at all due to their non-citizen status. This is true for a group of immigrants from different parts of the world who must live together as a makeshift family, looking for work and trying to survive. When one gets sick, the fragile living space they've developed is threatened, forcing these ordinary-looking people to blend in with the rest of the world as they try to keep themselves inside the land they've come to call home.

Reza Dahya does a great job of bringing the immigrant experience to light and the challenges they face. It's a heartbreaking, but moving, piece of film.

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