Short Selections | Ryo Hirano, Till Nowak, Tor Fruergaard, Jonathan Bougher & Nicholas Corrao

Welcome to Short Selections, a space for reviewing and talking about short films and clips of the comedic and experimental variety.

During Artscape this year, I hid from the rain in the Charles Theater, which presented many of the short films that made this year’s Maryland Film Festival. But Michael, you might ask, why should I drive, park, then walk to a theater when I can just watch short video clips anywhere, instantly?

Good question. Living in a world with an infinite amount of short clips to choose from online, I am interested to see which pieces are deemed worthy for presentation in real space. Later, I would find that even though the instant on-demand platform of the Internet is known, tested, and perfect for shorts, the full versions of these films are not always available to watch online. These are short videos that are being asked to be considered differently than the clips that get passed around on Facebook (Shit ‘X’ People Say, Autotune the News).  

Some creators are adamant about keeping their work in this theater space, but you’ve come all the way to the theater, and you’re prepared to sit for a while. The curation of short films grouped together is like watching a live audio/visual mixtape. The variety of genres and forms that exist in feature length films can be found here: it can be a story, a music video, an abstract collage of images and sounds, it can be disparate clips of sporting events. Since the format is shorter, whatever we are being presented with, or challenged with, one can always think, “it will be over soon, so I might as well pay attention,” or,  “at least it will be over soon.”  

Can they be judged to work on the same level, technically and  as full length movies? I think they can. In terms of definitions, anything under 15 minutes would qualify.

Of note:

Hietsuki Bushi

by Ryo Hirano (profile)

8-bit samples mixed with Spanish guitars? Sold. Both the animation and the music are a collage. Everything is distorted, but connected. Time and linear experience are played with, to a song with lyrics that were written sometime around the 12th century. (Read the full description on YouTube for a more eloquent explanation) 

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Centrifuge Brain Project

by Till Nowak (

This film had the most impressive use of digital filmmaking. Regarding the the cgi vs. models debate, of Star Wars and sci-fi, generally: we don’t knock cgi categorically, when it’s done well we are impressed (District 9). When it’s bad or sometimes even when it’s done too well it’s loathsome and distracting. This film hits it perfectly and compelling story to boot: the white haired scientist obsessed with trying to transcend human limitations through escapist amusement park rides. If you can catch this piece at a festival near you, I’d recommend it, currently it does not exist in its entire form online, but there’s a teaser here, which doesn’t come close to revealing the absurd heights the piece takes us to.

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By Tor Fruergaard (website)

This claymation Red Shoe Diaries, an R-Rated Wallace and Grommet, does something quasi-experimental film-festival animation isn’t usually known for: presenting a complete story arc. During the opening credits, we get a smiling couple moving into their apartment. You can guess where it goes from there. As the opening tune ends we immediately see distance, judgment, and low self-esteem. We follow them to a swingers club, and it’s obvious which half of the couple wants to be there. Venus does everything a short story should do, and does them in claymation, the perfect medium with which to capture the unfortunately droopy texture of flesh.

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VENUS ENGLISH SUBTITLES from Den Danske Filmskole on Vimeo.

Come on Down and Pick Me Up

 by Jonathan Bougher, Nicholas Corrao (website)

This short documentary about an outside artist was filmed in Rosedale, MD. It’s moving and void of any pretension or irony. “My friends come in and say they wouldn’t know where to start. I don’t know where to start either – just pick something up and start going at it. Then something starts to happen.” I wish the full version available online, but it does not appear to be so. Here are clips and an interview with the creator:

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And that’s all for now. Tune in next week.  

Matt Levin