3 Film Shorts from SXSW Film Festival: After, Endless Day & The Village

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Given the chaos of SXSW Interactive and how many parties, events, one-on-ones, book signings and panels there are, it was harder than most years to take in the best that SXSW FIlm had to offer. I stumbled upon five shorts one afternoon, only one of which was on my life: The Village.

The first one was entitled “After,” which is a ‘short film’ about contemporary life in Auschwitz. In an observation from dusk till dawn, it portrays the theatre of everyday life around the grim confines and captures the energies and activities of a world fascinated by this former concentration camp.

To be honest, I had a hard time following the thread or lack thereof although if I saw it a second or third time, it would probably come together. Starting with shots of soles of shoes getting glued in a factory, repaired and then laid out in a stack, then moving to a shot of a group getting photographed, followed by zooms in and out of wired fences and a rabi’s talk.

Endless Day followed, which was a short film in subtitles and takes on its own kind of darkeness, one which leads us to someone depressed, sleep deprived and unable to cope with the endless days that all run into one big blur.

For most people, sleep comes naturally, but for others, the night turns into an ongoing struggle to drift off into oblivion. This film explores what it’s like to be awake involuntarily and the feelings that accompany the passing of sleepless time.

Images mostly revolved around darkness implicating her inability to sleep. From dark images of branches, twigs, a train track, you too feel as if you’re in a lost faraway dream that will haunt you forever.

The Village was by far my favorite. Also using subtitles, the cinematography was amazing with great lighting and great angle shots, showing this small town life stopped in time.

Far away from any other urban centers, Itapuã is a small community with the characteristics and rituals of everyday life. The location, which sheltered 1,454 people and has more than 70 years of existence remains with only 35 residents all over the age of 60. No one likes to remember what the place was in the past, even though for many the memory is etched on their bodies.

Lastly, “Short Term 12” was the most popular movie at South by Southwest, winning top awards from both the festival’s jury and its audience. According to one piece I read about the film, Destin Daniel Cretton’s second feature-length film, based on his own experience working at a foster care facility, was never supposed to get made.  Cretton told the audience at the Topfer Theater in Austin that he “didn’t write the short to be a feature.”

Photos by Renee Blodgett. For more on Austin and festivals, including SXSW, go here.

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