I am a big fan of the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival. All the filmmakers have unmitigated passion for their craft which gives the festival a grassroots feel waiting for community support.
Most of the entries submitted to the ShortFest move on to bigger and better things such as being nominated for an Academy Award. This year, the selections are wide-ranging with varying themes from love to the horrors of war. Here are my picks to help you enjoy the fest.
“Friend Request Pending”
Dame Judi Dench stars in this funny and smart look at the world of social media. Directed by Chris Foggin, “Friend Request Pending” is part of the Opening Night: Make ‘Em Laugh and Modern Communication lineups. You will laugh and fall in love with this movie. Wait until you see Dench toss online acronyms like LOL and OMG. Even “The Avengers’” Loki aka Tom Hiddleston shows up for a funny cameo.
“The Missing Key”
A splendid, beautifully-drawn animation that’s part of the Short Stories from Down Under series. Directed by Jonathan Nix, “The Missing Key” is about the power of music and the things people do to harness it. This mostly silent film is a surefire Oscar Best Animated Short Film contender!
“What You Looking At”
A fierce drag queen and an even fiercer burka-clad woman get trapped inside an elevator. What follows next is a comic and endearing look at how opposites can be truly alike. Directed by Faryal, “What You Looking At” is part of the Opening Night: Make ‘Em Laugh and Gay!La series.
“Jesus Loves Youssef”
A young boy on the verge of adolescence must find the perfect balance between Catholicism and puberty. Lebanon’s Ephrem Kossaify creates an honest portrait of a boy trapped between construed good and evil. This is part of the Rites of Passage series.
“Hot in the Zipper”
I thoroughly enjoyed this campy tale from director James Westby about three distinctly different women vying for the affections of a piano-playing single man. Set in 1947 Manhattan, this witty homage to the tough dames of the past mixes humor and music to great effect! “Hot in the Zipper” is part of the Opening Night: Make ‘Em Laugh and Love, Lust…and Other L Words series.
“Road to Peshawar”
Set in 1988 during the last days of the Soviet-Afghan war, “Road to Peshawar” tells the tale of a father and his injured Afghani girl who must walk towards the Pakistani border for medical help. This unpredictable and affecting look at the horrors of war is also thoroughly heartfelt. Directed by Hammad Rizvi, “Road to Peshawar” belongs in the War and Remembrance festival series.
“Johnny Loves Dolores”
The plight of Filipino migrant workers is explored in this bold and affecting film from director Clarissa De Los Reyes. Johnny (Raul Arellano) is a money-remittance clerk who falls in love with Dolores (Princess Punzalan), a mother who entered the U.S. illegally so she can provide a better future for her daughter in the Philippines. The melodramatic nature of illegal immigrants is washed away by the splendid performances. “Johnny Loves Dolores” is part of the Love is in the Air series.
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