We are excited to have Seattle writer Robert Horton as a guest blogger for season 3 of Reel NW. Here he introduces the season 3 shorts.
A group of themed short films gives you a chance to feel the similarities, the reverberations, between different offerings and different viewpoints.
Which is fine.
But there's something to be said for the chocolate-box approach to a package of shorts, as we get in ReelNW's collection for the new season; no theme, just the pleasure of ping-ponging through these disparate offerings from a group of filmmakers who have just one thing in common: some connection to the Northwest.
That mixture provides a look at the serious and the whimsical, the factual and the fictional, live action and cartoon. The serious comes to us full-on in the heartfelt The House I Keep, written by and starring Jhene Erwin and directed by Jennifer Little; or you might try a touch of the serious-by-way-of-gothic stylings of Matthew Brown's The Piano, where a performance of Schubert turns into a sinister bit of surrealism in a piano factory.
The factual is represented by Eric Becker's Honor the Treaties, an account of photographer Aaron Huey's vital work on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Huey quite rightly declares that the point is not to listen to him on the subject of what's happened to Native Americans in this troubled corner of America, but to listen to the people at Pine Ridge themselves. Here's hoping someone sees this film and initiates a program to put video cameras in the hands of locals.
Animation is here in the form of Sarah Jolley's movie-mad Skip, Tess Martin's simple-but-elegant Hula Hoop, and Seattle native David Viau's Preguntas Hermosas, the latter a mix of dreamy imagery and poetic snippets from Pablo Neruda and Carl Sandburg. All of which reflect a kind of fun in the creative act—the business of putting visions into play—regardless of what their subject matter is.
Meanwhile, in live action, Peter Edlund's Love, Seattle takes a basketball fan's spoken words (aimed at Sonics-stealing owner Clay Bennett) and attaches them to a black-and-white parody of the opening of Woody Allen's Manhattan. Very gratifying for those feeling bereft at the loss of NBA hoops in Seattle.
In observing the Northwest film scene, we see the long and the short of it: filmmakers who make features, and those who make shorts. It's important to acknowledge that creating a short film or two can be a step on the path to feature filmmaking—but, as this collection reminds us, sometimes the short film is a fine end in itself.
- Robert Horton