Don’t let the title Homeland Security conjure images of American flags, militia rednecks and Condoleezza Rice in your mind’s eye. This series from the Worldwide Short Film Festival concerns itself with houses, homes and families.
Sounds cohesive, but there are as many moods and approaches to “˜home’ as films in this series. With such a myriad of styles and subjects, it’s best not to look too hard for the connection. The opening film, The Seamstress, might be the least related to its group theme: a manic and scary animation, The Seamstress blends aspects of The Illusionist animation style with the surreal content of Spirited Away. While the plot is somewhat abstract, the animation and mood leave a dark impression.
Two Dogme 95-style films make their way into Homeland Security: Dol (First Birthday) and Last of The Snow. The latter overtly pays homage to Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg’s minimalist Dogme 95 movement. I suppose that this makes sense; with camcorders and limited resources, it might be hard to find useable locations outside the home. Dol (First Birthday) narrates the complexities of a gay Korean American couple’s relationship with one of the couple’s traditional Christian family. It’s subtle and hyper politically correct. Last of the Snow just screams ‘Newfoundland.’ A young couple and a goofy neighbourhood kid look to hit the slopes at the end of Winter. Subtle and cute.
There are a few other highlights, such as Unwieldy Beast, a short documentary about a man who built a piano-bicycle hybrid, but the best short film by far in Homeland Security is Seven Years of Winter. You know that awful-looking movie Chernobyl Diaries? This is not that, although the two films unfortunately share their content. Seven Years of Winter: post-Chernobyl fallout, a seven-year-old boy is sent repeatedly by an older man (a big brother type) into the Chernobyl site to scavenge for passports and other documents which can be sold. The boy trusts his older companion, even as the man knows that he’s slowly killing the boy. The film feels so real — disturbingly real! I read that it was actually shot at Chernobyl. What I thought might be excellent set design now feels haunting. Go see this!
Homeland Security screens on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm and Sunday June 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm. Check the Worldwide Short Film Festival website for details and tickets.
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