- Responding to Roger Ebert’s reviews
- T/F Film Fest
- About Vox
Review by Laura Heck
In a round up of 20 short films created by girls who were 18 years old or younger, the Secret Lives of Girls event, held for the fourth year, showcased what is so cool about teenagers today. The overarching theme of these films, whether intentional or not, was how these girls view the world around them. Teens are able to navigate the adult world, the media, the emerging technologies with enviable ease, but that doesn’t mean they figured out their place in that world. These girls care about social issues like climate change, the way the media affects us and helping others feel like they belong (many of the shorts dealt with LGBTQ social issues), but their hesitancy is clear; they are still searching for how each of them fit into the world as a broad and scary place.
Many of the films shown were professional quality. Many showed promise, heart and complex techniques. All of them showed care, thought and insight.
Here are a few of my favorites. You can find the full list of shorts here at Citizenjanefilmfestival.org.
While We’re Asleep by Kate Nilsen, Emma Marmor, Summer Matthews, & Daniel Tayara: The opening short of the collection was about the way children interact with their dreams. In a charming and insightful film, the filmmakers seemed to put the camera in front of the kids and just let them speak. The wonderfully brilliant things these kids said caught the adult audience off guard with the universal truths they accepted without hesitation. This blissful innocence and hope was at once inspiring and heartbreaking — and definitely amusing. From gorillas to Sasquatch to dragons to the harsh fear of being put in handcuffs, these kids dream the darndest things! The refreshing tone matched the colorful, easy, playful nature of the cinematography.
Bump in the Night by Amelia Mott & Oriana Golden: In this short documentary about the Eastern Washington Paranormal group, a healthy dose of skepticism and whimsicality are mixed together. The characters of the group of paranormal hunters could be anyone — they just happen to spend time searching for ghosts. The filmmakers are careful to highlight how much logic and “science” goes into their ghostly investigations. With beautiful shots and stories of an old, romantic hotel in Washington, the film has a warm, personal undertone while still letting the audience be skeptics of the realities of the ghost hunt.
Lonely Girl by Delia Amos: What started out as an uneasy, apprehensive piece about what it means when someone asks, “Are you lonely?” turned into a quippy, smart and sarcastic film that took audiences into the mind of a savvy, intelligent teenage girl who clearly stands out from the crowd. With acted-out scenes of the same girl patronizingly asking variations of “Are you lonely?”and screen shots of the definitions of words such as “lonely,” “lonesome,” “independent” and even “whew,” the film showed the subtle difference between teen angst and teen strength.
Daniel by Roxanne Mauras & L’Eunice Faust: Daniel is a delightful gay teenager living in Manhattan who wants to be a performer because, as he says, it probably doesn’t require a college education. But he doesn’t want to have to kiss girls if he gets a straight girl, so maybe he won’t be. In probably the most prophetic moment of the short for me, Daniel says he would be lying if he said he has big dreams; he’s still figuring out how to accept the life he lives now. Daniel, though an outsider, speaks for a generation.
Voodoo Child by Roz Naimi & Joe Kitaj: This film reminded me of the mockumentary style of MTV’s attempt at nerdy coolness My Life as Liz, a show that I kind of loved. A winsome but awkwardly enthusiastic girl looking for Dirty Dancing love creates a voodoo doll of a boy in her high school and uses it to make him fall in love with her. The topic of this film could have been trite or childish, but adult-themed jokes (the, ahem, reactions that resulted from rubbing the crotch of the doll) and a healthy dose of sarcasm gave it heart and relevance. Sophisticated camera work helped take the film to the next level of amateur to impressive.
Vox rating: VVVV
THE RATING SYSTEM
VVVVV = AWESOME! SEE IT TWICE
VVVV = DEFINITELY GO SEE IT
VVV = HMM… IT’S OKAY
VV = EH… DVD MAYBE?
V = DON’T BOTHER
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