A Film Festival for the Attention Deficient

D.C. Shorts Is Running Through Sept. 16

By Benjamin R. Freed - CityPaper Arts Desk
|  Thursday, Sep 9, 2010  |  Updated 8:15 PM EDT
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A Film Festival for the Attention Deficient

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"Banana Bread" — a family comedy in time for the High Holy Days.

Banana Bread — a family comedy in time for the High Holy Days

Between Filmfest D.C., Silverdocs, the Environmental Film Festival, the D.C .Independent Film Festival, the Goethe Institute’s Film Neu and other suburban events, Washington is hardly lacking in film festivals. But not everyone can muster the patience and attention demanded by a slew of under-the-radar movies making their public debut.

Fortunately, we also have D.C. Shorts, the seventh edition of which kicks Sep. 9 off with screenings at Landmark’s E Street Cinema and the Navy Memorial and runs through next Thursday, Sept. 16.

At a preview luncheon last month, festival organizer Jon Gann lamented that nearly all short films go unseen by general audiences, and it’s difficult to argue with that. Outside of Pixar movies and the annual grouping of Oscar nominees, short films seldom enjoy a release beyond their filmmakers’ immediate circles.

Gann wants to change all that. Some of his methods include sending constructive rejection letters to the vast majority of the 801 films that tried to get in, sponsoring a screenplay competition during October’s ScriptDC workshop and issuing his own set of awards. He’s also recruited some star power among the short film community with a screening of Academy Award for Best Documentary Short winner Music for Prudence followed by a question-and-answer session with its director Roger Ross Williams.

But in a testament to the relative obscurity of short films, Williams is probably best known for being Kanye’d during his Oscar acceptance speech by his co-producer Elinor Burkett, a bizarre moment that capped a bitter creative disagreement and lawsuit that wove in and out of court.

D.C. Shorts is offering up 97 films this week spread across nine two-hour groupings, and Arts Desk is aiming to review them all. Over the next week, Arts Desk contributors Erin Petty, Tessa Moran, Adam Gorod, Matt Siblo and I will offer up our one-sentence takes on each entry. We’re calling them, somewhat predictably, Short Reviews for Short Films.

A Film Festival for the Attention Deficient was originally published by Washington City Paper on Sep 9, 2010.

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