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A&E Film Fest Reviews

Student Competition screens shorts [Block B]


Simorgh (2013) – 4.5 stars

Even if you don’t know the story of the Persian poem “The Conference of the Birds” by Farid ud-Din Attar, you can still enjoy this beautifully animated adaption, “Simorgh.” Instead of using narration to bring this poem to life, writer, director and producer Meghdad Asadi Lari uses music. And it’s hard to say which is to love more – the dramatic symphonic music, the intricate design of each bird or the calligraphic art that was incorporated into the short. All that can be said about this short is that it was beautiful.


AM800 (2013) – 3.5 stars

AM800 is the station that fosters Clyde Thompson’s belief in conspiracies, and despite all of his crazy, he makes you want to venture into the dark with him. Tracy Miller’s narration and performance is brilliant. He’s the one that makes you want to see what’s beyond the unrealistic hole-in-the-wall and uncomfortably colorless tunnel to get the answers.


Bull (2014) – 4 stars

For the amount of dialogue there is in Bull, it’s surprisingly hard to figure out exactly what is happening. Yes, writer and director Max Martin might have a touching story about a boy returning home from a clinic, but the forced ambiguity gets annoying. If it weren’t for Jesse’s jokes about his eating disorder, we’d still be guessing what was wrong with him. And don’t expect to find out what’s up with his brother. Despite these quirks, you’ll go right along with Jesse, because Stephen Joffe (who plays Jesse) is able to capture the character in just the right way.


Little Shaddow (2013) – 3 stars

Little Shadow has everything people love in a film – a broken family with a strong dad back from war, a son trying to find his way, a bunch of rowdy teenagers, spin the bottle and a pretty girl with big boobs. Oh, and it’s set “back in the day,” because who doesn’t love that. The cinematography and overall quality of the film is great, but writer and director Toby Fell-Holden just needs a big injection of originality. All in all, this film isn’t bad; it’s just not memorable.


Thundercluck (2014) – 5 stars

This cut-out animated short stars a mighty Viking chicken called Thundercluck, and follows the tale of this hero who has to battle evil warriors and save the day with his special powers. Writer and director Paul Tillery proved his mastery over the animated short with this funny flick. The hilarious narration and Egyptian-esque animation come together so perfectly, you’ll want to watch it again.


The Pinewood Man (2014) – 4.5 stars

The laughs continue as the “leader of a tribe” (played by Michael Horse) tells the fireside story of Frank, The Pinewood Man. Frank is misunderstood and doesn’t know how to talk to his son, and when his wife leaves him for another man he has to prove himself by competing in the Pinewood Derby, which his son hates. The jokes are as good as ever, the comedy spot on and James Madio’s performance as Frank is what pulls and keeps it all together.


H7N3 (2013) – 3.5 stars

Ebola might not have hit this town, but something has and it’s nasty. But you wouldn’t know that from the fake cough coming from the sick daughter throughout the whole short. Put that aside and it’s alright – you have parents fighting the whole time and an underdeveloped field doctor protagonist who’s trying to figure out if this little girl has “the virus.” The ending keeps things interesting but doesn’t make up for other faults in the film.


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