HollyShorts 2017: International Block - Film Reviews

One of the biggest parts of festivals like this is the ability to show off not just films from American creators, but those from other parts of the world, as well. This block of films focuses on international filmmakers, giving them all a chance to show the beauty of their work.



Born Bone Boon

On an island outside of Japan, an ancient tradition is observed, and it's kind of an interesting one. When an ancestor dies, they are given a few years, then their graves are revisited and their bones washed by their family in order to honor them. While it can seem a bit off-putting, it's kind of a heartwarming tradition that can bring families together. This is true for a man and his new wife, who has been brought from the mainland to participate in this tradition following the death of his father a few years before. While his new family situation hasn't been totally smooth, this act puts extra strain on their relationship, as his new wife and young daughter are brought in to a totally foreign situation that they don't fully understand. It's a beautiful film that shows how tough a new life transition can be, but how traditions can bring families together.


Mirame a Los Ojos

This beautiful short film focuses on the connections between people. That is especially true in terms of the connection that comes from eye contact, and the true things that can be brought from one look into another person's eyes. How anything is possible from one look, and how that one look into the windows to a person's soul can open up limitless options. While not long, it's very heartwarming and really brings forth a lot of promising thoughts.


Red Light

In London, Red Light focuses on a young brothel worker who is searching for a way out. With a true lover in tow, she's saving her money and working hard to get herself somewhere else. This is not the focus on the film, however, as this young worker is given a different proposition from one of her regular customers. She declines, knowing she'll be moving on with the one she loves. But the best-laid plans can wither away, and with things as delicate as they are, a wench in the system can mess with everything, especially when people aren't what they seem. This was one of my favorite films of this block, as developments in the story really change the shape of the film near the end.


Pushing Night Away

This Scandinavian film shows a major split between two people who still somehow make a connection. Eddie, a young man inside the hospital after a suicide attempt, meets Kate, a woman who is fighting for her life. Eddie has suffered a major tragedy that he blames himself for, and despite not knowing that, Kate is drawn to him, using some dark humor to bring them together. Despite Eddie's silence and struggles with his thoughts, Kate persists and they encourage one another, especially with the reveal that Kate is suffering from cancer. It's a beautiful story of coming at life from different sides that really puts things into perspective.


Sabine

A French art house film, Sabine is kind of metatexutal in its premise. A young film director uses his craft to create short films that allow a man to be the focus as he tries to connect with a lost love. This subject wanders around, saying his love's name over and over, talking about her and generally being a powerful subject. This winds up working out, as subjects see the film, knowing who the actor was, and respark the connection. It's a funny and touching story of a young director trying to make things work in a new genre.


XYX

This Hispanic film is an interesting one, because it speaks on a metaphorical level. It focuses on a young woman in a decrepit, gloomy house as she struggles with a creepy figure dressed in black that she seems to have a connection with. After the black hood is removed, it's revealed that they are one and the same, and the situation turns as a cycle of abuse is revealed and the entire story takes on an entirely new tone, as it seems the two figures are two sides of the same person. I liked this film a lot, because it used minimal story to tell something major and did it in a very successful way.


Aurora

The story of a what looks to be a family on vacation is one of the darker films I'd seen so far in this festival. While for the most part, things seem to be focusing on a relatively normal situation. That all changes near the end, as the slowly creeping vibes of unease make themselves known as after some normal vacationing takes on the form of a surfing injury. The story begins to delve into some less-than-stellar moments. This film seems designed to make you think, but the discomfort of the subject made it a tougher one to watch. Although, that in itself is a great achievement.


When Demons Die

This was probably my favorite film of the block, as it has one of the better twists I've seen in a film. In a world where the young are hunted by a demon living in the fog, a young boy and his father are forced to take shelter in a cabin. This tale of dread is only amplified further when noises draw the father out of the house and into the landscape for the entire night. Forcing the boy to hide, then gather the courage to make it outside, despite the risk, the boy leaves, only for the entirety of this story to change almost immediately after. This is one of the times that I'd rather not spoil the ending, but it's one that was completely unexpected and mind blowing. It was a great story, and one that should really be seen however possible.


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