In a desert of feature length movies, it’s a delight to stumble upon this year’s slate of short films at the Virginia Film Festival. There are four separate programs of shorts, featuring a total of 29 short films—a grand total that’s much higher than in recent years. These films range in genre and style, offering something for (almost) everyone.
If you’re looking to dip your toes in short films, don’t miss the free screening of work by Light House Studio students on November 6 at the Downtown Regal. These 12 films encompass everything from offbeat animations to stylish music videos with documentaries and narrative films mixed in. The program is 46 minutes, followed by a discussion with the student filmmakers.
For those who don’t mind darting between theaters, there’s another shorts program immediately after this (also at the Regal Downtown). This program highlights six short documentaries, two of which should prove especially appealing to locals: The Art of the Moving Creature by Jessica Burnam and A Hundred Thousand Books by Zachary Parks Grigg. The first documents a recent UVA course of the same name, which engaged students in the creation of giant puppet-like creatures. You might have noticed some of these creatures parading around town, but this is your chance to learn why they came into existence and how they’re related to legendary special effects designer Stan Winston.
A Hundred Thousand Books is a short biopic focused on Charlottesville’s own Sandy McAdams. If you’ve ever stopped by Daedalus Bookshop there’s a good chance you’ve met McAdams. Those of us who have taken him up on his free-flowing book recommendations know how foolhardy it would be to miss this glimpse into his world.
Taking a more experimental approach to shorts, a program entitled DWELLING will screen on November 8 at the Downtown Regal. These six shorts focus on the idea of place and the creation of personal geographies, past and present. The works include a haunting exploration of the embodiment of life and death, a colorful and frenetic art school project examining the visual experience of space, slow-paced and meditative investigations into other cultures and more. By my count, the highlight of this program is Vashti Harrison’s Field Notes, an experimental ethno-documentary about Trinidad and Tobago, told through narrated oral histories and folklore. It’s worth it just for the beautifully grainy footage and tales of jumbies and lagahoos.
Rounding out the selections, short narrative films following a more traditional structure, and ranging from humorous to heartbreaking, will be shown on November 9 at PVCC.