Forgive me, I know I’m a week late since POV aired the shorts program (you can watch all the short films online at the above link), but I was away and I just saw them…and they were so cool! I hope that you caught them too, maybe in much the same way I have come across some great programs in the past — channel surfing and then stumbling on something so unlike anything else amongst your 400 channels, with no shrill editing, fake actors or images of Lou Dobbs — that you became mesmerized. This happened to me once when I happened upon a doc about water towers. I don’t know who aired it, but I was immediately reminded of it when I saw City of Cranes.
Cranes illuminated for me how special short films are: they can be more universal and deep than feature-length films, exactly because they are short — like a haiku. For me, Cranes had a beauty to it, but also a dangerous glimmer of 9/11, with its constant theme of urban repair and disrepair and frequent shots of airplanes flying over head. Did anyone else take note of that? Or is it because I’m a New Yorker, where 9/11 struck closest, and where we’ve had more than our share of crane accidents in recent years?
But that’s what’s so great about these shorts. They can say different things to different people. The filmmakers’ agendas are less important. Is Nutkin’s Last Stand a satire or a serious depiction of the squirrel problem in the U.K.? Could Utopia Part 3 have been presented with any less context? But that’s cool: these are poems. Perhaps 34 X 25 X 36 shows its hand most, with its grainy abstract depictions of mannequins: it’s as if it were saying, “here is an art film.” Or, perhaps, a product of a grad school dissertation. Bring it on!
My one complaint is the one commonality amongst all four shorts: They each use serious, plodding, dreamy music juxtaposed against images to create a dramatic impact — a sort of Koyaanisqatsi effect, if you will. I wish filmmakers could mix up their musical selections more. It’s a trope that needs tweaking.