Shorts That Are Not Pants 2020: Our Review of ‘Block 7: Sparks’

Posted in Festival Coverage, What's Streaming? by - November 17, 2020

Viewers can find love anywhere, whether it’s in the wild wild west or the French version of that wild west. Shorts Not Pants has a whole block that they call ‘Sparks’, but did they fly here?

The titular role Daniel Perez’ Archibald’s Syndrome (Tom Hudson) can control other people’s hands. He eventually robs a bank and kidnaps a woman and they get into hijinks. I get that a lot of French cinema borrows from American iconography. But French filmmakers made that iconography into their own. Perez’ version of Tarantino’s crime romance misrepresents the cinema of both countries. He also makes both look like they’re in derivative decline.

A Bosnian tram becomes the setting in Thanasis Neofotistos’ Route-3. The short shows that some white boys like Amar (Enes Koslicic) might plan to say hi to a hijabi who is suggestively eating an orange. But God has plans. Amar is as awkward at 17 as I am at 33, but no one is making a short film about me and the same should have gone for this guy.

Some young love, however, deserves cinematic treatment more than others. Michael-David McKernan’s How To Fall In Love With a Pandemic is a documentary short showing his Irish self having to live with his new American girlfriend. That’s what happens when women fly and land in Ireland when the WHO announces that COVID is a pandemic. That announcement cancels her flight back home. The one bad thing I can say here is that he shows her job interview flaw but not his. But he combines car vlogs, split screens, and drone shots and make them seamless. They’re cute and I root for them, mostly because they brought this block’s best short.

Writer-director Kristina Wagenburger brings us her new short Today or I’ll Die. It’s about a Quebecois youngster (Emilie Bierre) reacting badly when her hookup date gets cold feet. There’s a twist here that makes this outdoor date worse.

Maxime Girard is another writer-director from Quebec. This year he brings us The PHD. It’s about an academic, Bruno (Felix Emmanuel). And he doesn’t want to tell his boyfriend that he couldn’t go through his PHD interview. This short is twenty minutes long but it couldn’t establish why someone as immature as Bruno would be in a relationship. Us LGBT+ people are self aware enough not to juggle a failed relationship and a failed career simultaneously. That’s something straight people do because they’re boring and entitled. We manifest our boring personalities and sense of entitlement in different ways.

Alexa-Jeanne Dube is an actress getting her hand in writing and directing shorts. Her offering is BKS, showing two or three way split screens. Sometimes the screens would show a confession. And at others it shows a flashback of an infidelity next to a person fingering bath salts. The bath salt thing is Dube’s attempt of making this into an ASMR video, but her methods distract from her storytelling.

Sara Dufosse’s The Ice Cubes is about a woman, Louise (Louise Manteau), getting a visit from her ex. Their silent moments are captivating enough to make me forget the one take gimmick and the bad lighting.

Toxic takes to a northern Mexican exurb that becomes more isolated when an accident puts the region on quarantine. One of the people on quarantine is a woman (Monica Huarte) giving her husband a smack down when she realizes his infidelity. 2020 is a year that made us believe in crazy, but how does a cheating husband forget to take his phone everywhere?

India is the setting of the last short, Sunday. It refers to a weekly ritual of a man (Shrikant Yadav) who takes a boat to get a haircut and facial treatment from a cute hairdresser. The man next door casting helps here but some shots could at least reinforce the crush better. And I know that not all countries in the global south are alike, but showing this as a closeted man’s only gay encounter reinforces really backward stereotypes.

For passes and tickets go to

  • Release Date: 11/14/2020
This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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