Thursday, April 23, 2015

Worldfest-Houston 2015: Summing Up

This year, I saw a total of 32 different short films from five different sessions: Animation/CGI Shorts, Drama Shorts, Family Shorts, Science Fiction Shorts, and Fantasy Shorts. Here is a list of the films that I think are particularly worth seeking out, in alphabetical order by title:

Death and the Robot
Director/Screenwriter Austin Taylor and Screenwriter Alex Thompson
Animated/CGI Shorts

The Devil Goes Down
Director/Screenwriter Nicholas Julius
Family Shorts

Director/Screenwriter Mike Grier and Screenwriters Jason Gallaty and Josh Grier
Animated/CGI Shorts (and Fantasy Shorts)

Director/Screenwriter Alberto Ruiz Rojo
Fantasy Shorts

Director/Screenwriter Ying-Fang Shen
Animated/CGI Shorts

Just Another Dance with My Father
Director Rob J. Greenlea and Screenwriter Diane Musselman
Drama Shorts

The Oceanmaker
Director/Screenwriter: Lucas Martell
Animated/CGI Shorts (and Fantasy Shorts)

Director/Screenwriter Wesley Tippers and Director Daniel Clark
Animated/CGI Shorts

Director/Screenwriter Jay Hubert
Family Shorts

Perfect State
Director/Screenwriter Tim Mackenzie-Smith and Screenwriter Ryan Philpott
Sci-Fi Shorts

And although it's comparing apples to oranges since there is such range of style and topic in this list, my favorite of the 32 films I saw was Flash. I felt it was the perfect example of restraint, of making the film exactly as long as it needed to be and not one moment longer. It also transcended the need for dialogue, which cannot possibly be easy to do. It was just a beautiful film that I wish more people could see.

I also had some other thoughts about the festival in general. First, I think it's a shame that attendance isn't better. A film festival of this size and quality is one of the perks of living in the fourth largest city in the country, so why aren't more people taking advantage of it? It's possible they just don't know about it; nobody I know had heard of this festival until I told them about it. I'd love it in particular if the festival could reach out to science fiction and fantasy fandom groups in the area, and perhaps targeting them with advertising specific to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Shorts.

Second, I wish there were a little more interaction between the filmmakers and what few non-filmmaker viewers are there. The filmmakers presumably interact with one another at the seminars, the hotel, and the awards events. But although the folks announcing the sessions said a few times that there would be time for Q&A after the films, it didn't happen in any of the five screenings I got to. The theater complex was not overly crowded any of the times I was there, so I would love to see a few tables set up where the filmmakers in attendance would go immediately after their screening session, with their names and film titles on table tents, and be available to talk. Attendance would need to be tackled before this, though, so there would be enough people there to talk to them.

Third, there were so many more films I wish I could have seen. Unfortunately for me, I have a standing conflicting event the first weekend of the festival every year, so I missed a bunch of short film screenings. Also unfortunately, I desperately wanted to see the Comedy Shorts but they were screened directly against the Sci-Fi Shorts.

Fourth, this isn't important, but I find it amusing that it takes two hours for me to watch any given short film session, and then it takes from three to five hours to write about it. Whew!

Finally, I really enjoyed what I saw of this festival. I'm looking forward to next year.

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