Last weekend I headed out to the Chicago Underground Film Festival, which was was a great experience. One refreshing thing was seeing shorts of different genres programmed together, instead of separated by category dividers between documentary, narrative and experimental films.
On the documentary (and therefore LEF-related) end of the spectrum, a few I personally liked:
History Minor Ryan Garrett, 19min. This film followed a Vietnam War re-enactment in Mississippi. It was pretty fascinating to see and hear young men taking part this strange war game, playing characters from a generation that’s still alive today. This won “Best Documentary Short” and the cinematographer described how the filmmakers had to take part in the re-enactment themselves, living in the fake press quarters.
Broad Channel Sarah Christman, 14min. A really crisp, saturated 16mm examination of the shoreline on Broad Channel Island in New York City. The film looked beautiful and paid attention to arresting small visual details to give a nice sense of place.
Irma Charles Fairbanks, 12min. This portrait of a female wrestler and wrestling coach in Mexico City took a turn for the musical, even with some minor dancing, and it also had very good end-credits sequence.
Second Law: South Leh St. Mike Gibisser, 14 min. A film that takes place entirely in an elderly woman’s home as she contemplates moving to assisted living. It really captured the texture of the house with sequences of sheets, stove burners, dust in the air etc.
Heavy Metal Parking Lot Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, 17 min.
I love this 1986 documentary, even more so on the big screen.
There were many more, potentially wonderful films I didn’t get a chance to see, but it was really encouraging to see these examples of what documentary filmmakers are doing with ingenuity and scarce resources.