the candler blog

Deadcenter X Review: Kids Fest Shorts

Deadcenter 2010, Film Festivals, Reviews

Deadcenter X LogoA series of great shorts that redefine the manner in which “kids work’ is compared with “professional,” one in which “kid/student” is simply an age level rather than a definition of cinematic ability of expression or articulation.

Amy Bench’s work In this Place at first glance suggest a rudimentary application of graphic compositing, as a young woman shifts through background layouts of bright and exotic locations. We come to learn that Jane, a young explorer, is simply finding the means of escape from the low contrast, and more realistically photographed, 35mm footage with her mind’s eye of exploration in bright HD imagery. While this juxtaposition in itself holds a fascinating approach towards these two mediums and their relationship with young filmmakers, it also provides a justification for these compositing techniques that imply this artifice is of the love and excitement of imagination. Jane’s boring conversations with her condescending older brothers further perpetuates her desires for escapism, but when she attempts to develop her imaginary travels through video distribution, the distributor tells her the material is unrealistic and overly amateurish. Jane focuses her skills as a dreamer and video-maker to delight and reconnect her family through a love video made specifically for them, as she brings them into the emotionally bright HD footage away from the oppressive and dreary 35mm realism, bridging the gap between the optimistic visions of youth and falsely-imposed definitions of cinematic quality.

Temple Tucker’s The Ribbon captures the delicate balance of young imagination’s existence through thoughtful cinematic composition that relies on tasteful and tactile imagery as well as contemplative moments of what would otherwise be an overly internalized world. The young girl, who almost waits for the departure of her mother to explore the situations in her mind, beckons for a spark of inspiration that can take her beyond the confines of her quotidian day-dreams. A fascinating moment finds the young girl performing shadow puppetry of sword-yielding maidens fighting dinosaurs that ends in a burning at the stake. Though these moments suggest dark undertones of self- deprecation and social ostracization, they are important contrasts of imagination to the beloved pink ribbon that takes her to playgrounds of packed excitement and possibilities. The complicated depiction of a child’s fears meshed with their dreams are the result of amazing observation of a child’s wonder.

Three great and fascinating shorts by young filmmaker Bunee Tomlinson suggest he is quickly becoming one of Oklahoma’s most prolific and talented young filmmakers to watch, two of which are not to miss:

His first film, Mom’s Favorite Vase is a unique coming-of-age buddy comedy of two young preteens whom break a vase while mom is busy in another room. They spend their day piecing together this vase in hopes of mom overlooking its ruined stature, only to come to futility. The smartest choices about this film are it’s clear character building between the audience and these young boys, whom surprise you with every moment of the expression of frustrations beyond their years, which further removes them from the day’s playtime to complete this project in hiding.

Without a Doubt, Tomlinson’s next short follows a decision of love-choice between two suitors: a teenage pen-pal, or current teenage boyfriend. The film is funny because of its balance of awkward teenage love and a real emotional underpinning of excited new connections, but it is also amazingly able to maintain a charm and innocence in every gesture and call for “love” by the washout pen pal, who’s performance leaves no doubt he firmly believes in romantic clichés despite the failures of it’s affect.