Shorts That Are Not Pants 2021: Our Review of ‘Shorts Block: Yellow’

Shorts That Are Not Pants 2021: Our Review of ‘Shorts Block: Yellow’

Today I chose to watch and review the Yellow block in this year’s Shorts Not Pants festival. There are themes popping up here, like power dynamics that are more complex than it seems.

Friends come from unexpected places. That’s the lesson in Suzanna Mirghani’s Al-Sit, depicting Nafisa (Mihad Murtada), a typical girl except that she works in a cotton field in Sudan. Her friends cheer for her since today is her wedding day. But the titular community matriarch (Rabeha Mohammed Mahmoud) is grilling her fiancé Nadir (Mohammed Magdi Hassan). I’m thinking about flying to Sudan for this woman to insult me.

The shorts here deal with localities, as it moves to another country within the Islamic world – Iraq. Qatar provides funding and probably substitutes as the former country in A.J. Al-Thani’s The Black Veil, where a woman, Reem (Sana El-Habib), hires a driver to look for her parents on the outskirts of Mosul during the early days of Daesh. The film toes the line between providing levity and awkward humour. But it dials those elements back to show the seriousness of the situation.

The block then transitions from showing films about adult children’s perspective to showing a story with a parents’ perspective. In Arun Fulara’s My Mother’s Girlfriend, an older Indian Muslim woman, Reunka, sneaks off meet her girlfriend Sadiya (Anju Alva Naik) without knowing that Reunka’s son Mangesh is watching their every move. Bisexual lighting looks smudgy here but it’s nice to see older women as sexual beings without oversexualizing them.

If you think watching queer love is a jolt, wait until you see Bára Anna Stejskalová’s Love is Just a Death Away. Dogs interact with insects in a dumpster. I just watched this an hour before writing my review and I already need a refresher for some of the things that happen here.

Again, maybe it’s me but Matthew Ritenour’s War and Honey has the same problems of it not 100% sticking to my memory, but it sticks better than Love. There are, um, loving depictions of honey harvesting as well as its harvesters. These harvesters happen to be Ukrainians recovering from PTSD during the recent war with Russia. Despite the problems I pointed out earlier, it’s straightforward and it mostly succeeds in its intentions.

If viewers think war is dark enough, the block gets darker with Simon Schnellmann’s To The Last Drop. Or maybe not, because it shows an animation of a beat waltzing with a chemo drip. I can already sense an end credit scene of Schnellmann enduring chemo. But his film neglects the fact that chemo is a backwards way to treat cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those crystals people, I’m not getting into my opinions on cancer treatment here. Animation has decent use of lines otherwise.

Dirk is the Dutch protagonist in Guust Mulder’s Home, where he deals with Atlas, a ripoff of Alexa who becomes sentient and tries to send compromising videos of him without his consent until he does what they ask him to do, The warm tones here provide the right kind of absurdity to the short.

I almost forgot about Pamela Fuller’s Get Out of My Head which looks like your typical coming of age teenage short except for when either protagonist wears prosthetic heads a la Frank. The shorts eventually differentiate between the times when they have the heads from when they don’t. A sweet short.

The last protagonist we see is the titular Spanish speaking mother (Juana Samper) in John David Edwards’ Mama, where she and her child crash into abandoned but well kept houses in rural British Columbia. I like the impressionistic approach here. The viewers don’t need to know her motivations to empathize with her, at least that’s true on this case. And the two minute long take of a mother reassuring her child is everything. Good way to end the block.

Order tickets to Shorts Not Pants here.


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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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