By David Finkelstein | October 24, 2011

“The Glitter Emergency” is a short fairy tale film by Paul Festa about Peggy, a one-legged girl with a peg leg, who dreams of releasing her inner ballerina. Most of the video closely mimics the look of silent era films, and the narration is told through occasional intertitles.

Peggy is comically portrayed by Matthew Simmons, who also created the character. The story is a variation on Cinderella. Magic pixies, ably danced and portrayed by Jaime Garcia Castilla and Martyn Garside, use enchanted glitter to summon Stringendo, a violin-playing magical creature in disco pants and platform shoes, dramatically portrayed by Festa, who gives a bravura performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto which forms the musical basis for the film. Peggy is terrified by Stingendo, but is finally won over by him, and in the manner of all fairy tales, she makes it to the Ball and triumphantly merges with her Inner Ballerina, played in classical style by dancer Sylvie Volosov.

Along the way, there are many amusing and fanciful sequences, as Stringendo chases Peggy through Dolores Park and San Francisco’s Mission District, eventually landing in the Bay. This short film abounds in creative visual strategies, delightfully mixing simple animation, cardboard boats, and, at the final Ball scene, garishly lit color video.

The film’s underlying message is one that I find troubling: it seems to be saying that the only thing that disabled or poor people need in order to overcome social oppression is to change their attitudes and find their inner creativity. It is a message that bothers me because it ignores the political nature of oppression, and the necessity for people to join together to fight for their rights. Nevertheless, as a mostly light-hearted fantasy film, with enormous visual and musical inventiveness and strong performances, “The Glitter Emergency” is entertaining, fun, and full of pleasure and joy.

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