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By Brad Slager | April 30, 2003

For the second year in a row, Los Angeles will be the co-host city of the Japanese based “Short Shorts Film Festival,” which features a diverse group of short films from a variety of countries. The festival is comprised of two programs that feature a collection of entries making their premieres in Los Angeles at the American Cinematheque Theatre.
Running for two days, the festival opens on Wednesday, April 30th with Program A, and continues on Thursday, May 1st with Program B. Showtime for both showings is at 7:30 pm.
Program A:
QIK2JDG ^ **** ^ USA 5 min. Dir. Nick Spano ^ Richard Moll stars as a man in desperate need of a gas station’s bathroom and has a harrowing experience. It is a well-shot scenario that lets the visuals tell a story. After reliving the experiences of those who made their mark in the stall, he reveals something about himself as he leaves his own tag behind.
Ikesu ^ *.5 ^ Japan 3min. Dir.Kenya Shimizu ^ Rather basic clay animation tells a bitter-sweet story of selflessness between sea creatures.
La Gotera (The Leak) ^ ***.5 ^ Argentina/Cuba 13 min. Dir. Benjamin Avila ^ Set in Havana on New Year’s Eve of 2000, this film focuses on a woman who reminisces on her past. After fond memories of her father, she has a stark recollection of a pivotal moment with her son, as well as her country’s future, and she has to come to terms with the regret of actions not taken. The blanched film and the woman’s fate manage to convey the plight of today’s Cubans.
Splatterfly ^ ** ^ Australia 1min. Dir. Andrew Horne ^ A brief claymation that is based on an Australian comic strip by Michael Leunig. It shows one man’s scatological battle with a butterfly.
Jour De Chance (Lucky Day) ^ *** ^ Belgium 16min. Dir. Frederic Ledoux ^ This short follows a silent homeless man as he endures the scorn from the rest of the community. A small windfall for the man is curtailed by the staff of a local grocery, but this leads to more significant events. An alteration on reality then provides a more somber resolution for the viewer.
Night Out ^ **** ^ Ireland 8min. Dir.Jason Tammemagi ^ Animated using modern rotoscope techniques, with no dialogue and a night-club soundtrack, the film follows a man and a woman as they independently prepare for a night on the town and eventually encounter each other. They share some romance, but quickly go separate ways, only to have a chance meeting at a later time. The slick animation and monochromatic schemes work well to give an indictment on the ephemeral nature on modern relationships.
El Espantapajaros (The Scarecrow) ^ ***.5 ^ Spain 9 min. Dir. Gonzalo Zona ^ There is some pleasant cinematography here with the story of a scarecrow who awakens to discover that he has been paired with a second co-worker, a silent crucifix erected in his field by clergymen. It manages to be comic and stark while moving at a languid pace.
The Platform ^ **** ^ New Zealand 4 min. Dir. Robin Walters ^ A hit-and-run comedy. While he is waiting for a train, a man catches fleeting glimpses of something around the corner. Investigating brings about the revelation, but by then it is too late. It is a one-gag feature, but the photography and editing deliver the humor effectively.
Rosso Fango ^ ***** ^ Italy 13 min. Dir. Paolo Ameli ^ Set in France during World War I, this films is a beautifully shot piece that focuses on a sole English soldier and his experience with a German in a crater under heavy fire. Based on a true story, the decisions of the soldier could have historic ramifications.
Mt. Head ^ **.5 Japan 10min. Dir. Koji Yamamura ^ Animation short that follows a frugal man. After collecting cherries he has to grapple with the unique effects of eating the fruit.
Program B:
Carmen ^ **.5 ^ USA 18min. Dir. Alexander Payne ^ This is the first short from the director of About Schmidt. Drawn from the opera of the same name, it features an intellectually challenged gas station attendant who is put in charge of the store. This leads to love with a tragic-comic ending.
Suzuki ^ * ^ Japan 1min. Dir. Keichiro Kyuma ^ Strange story of a relationship between a woman and her robotic lover.
Q ^ ** ^ Australia 3min. Dir. Jeremy Weinstein ^ The title says it all. A variety of people have to deal with the stress of standing in line, with a mouse being the only clever mind of the group.
Fish Never Sleep ^ ** ^ UK 6 min. Dir. Gaelle Denis ^ A simply drawn animated tale of a sushi bar worker who cannot get to sleep. She later learns why it is that fish prefer to remain awake.
Baseado Em Estorias Reais (Based on True Stories) ^ ** ^ Brazil 15min. Dir. Gustavo Moraes ^ A realistic depiction of guerilla activities in the countryside of Brazil.
Supermarket Trolleys ^ *.5 ^ Australia 1 min. Dir. Andrew Horne ^ Another claymation based on Michael Leunig’s comic strip. This traces the farcical circle of life of shopping carts.
Paroles, Paroles ^ * ^ France 4min. Dir.Ron Dyens ^ A peculiar saga filmed in black and white and set at the turn of the century about a couple and their dog who take a doomed balloon ride.
Last Stand ^ **** ^ USA 22min. Dir. Gabe Torres ^ A very well made drama set in the wake of the doomed battle at Little Big Horn. A surviving, but wounded soldier encounters an adolescent Indian warrior and the two overcome their natural desire to destroy each other. Despite the language barrier, they reach an accord that transcends the obvious hatred between their peoples.
The Ball ^ *** ^ Mozambique5 min. Dir. Orlando Mesquita ^ A whimsical study that teaches how effective the condom programs in Africa can be. With the widespread distribution of the product, a new use has been implemented by young boys who have more of a passion for soccer than for girls.

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