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Check Your Shorts!

It’s a short film bonanza at the Santa Fe Film Festival

April 30, 2014, 12:00 am

Some years ago, I had occasion to attend a screening of the John Cleese comedy Clockwise at a museum in my hometown. Before the feature played, there was a screening of Java Junkie, Tom Schiller’s send-up of Twilight Zone-styled voiceovers and cautionary educational films. It stars Peter Aykroyd (Dan Aykroyd’s younger brother) as a guy who loses everything because of an unquenchable desire for hot coffee.

I loved Java Junkie. I laughed hysterically. About a year ago, I had occasion to see it again, and—spoiler alert!—it ain’t great. But Java Junkie spurred my never-ending love of film shorts, and the Santa Fe Film Festival has a ton of shorts. Yay! Here are some of the best showings, from the funny to the dramatic to the weird.

The Drain—Part of The Horror! The Horror! Shorts Program at Jean Cocteau Cinema—Director Collin Blair shows us what happens when you live alone too long; you start to hear voices coming from your bathtub drain. Steve (Rob Brownstein) has a banzai tree he cares for but not much else. He can’t even interact with a neighbor without being awkward. And you think someone this fastidious would have a cleaner tub. But whatever—this short delivers eerie laughs in fewer than nine minutes.

Playing with the Devil—Part of The Horror! The Horror! Shorts Program at Jean Cocteau Cinema—I’m not really creeped out by demonic possession stories unless those demonic possession stories feature dolls, which this one does. ‘Nuff said.

Citizen’s Band—Part of The Horror! The Horror! Shorts Program at Jean Cocteau Cinema—Another short, another awkward character, but unlike Steve in The Drain, Haven (Anna Bortnick) is all about action. When she hears over CB radio a woman begging for help to fend off an alien resistance, she forms an army with hilarious (and bloody) results. Some of the acting is clunky, but the visual style and LARP jokes make up for it. Good fun.

Deliver Us from Evil—Part of New Mexico Shorts at Jean Cocteau Cinema—Maybe Robert McDermott’s thriller takes itself a little too seriously, but this nifty crime drama about a killer with car trouble and the men who help him has a sustained tone and a perfectly bleak landscape. Craig Roath has a perfect face and demeanor for the killer and he’s matched by Bill Dablow as one of the men who gets wise to his identity.

Love Needs No Words—Part of Real People: Documentary Shorts Program at CCA—In this rough-around-the-edges documentary, a granddaughter tells her grandmother’s story, about the different ways people express their love. It’s a window into one family’s life, and—though I’m no sentimentalist—it’s a rare (and touching) experience that feels truly from the heart.

Nothing Like IvanhoePart of On the Nature of Hotness: GLBT Shorts Program at Jean Cocteau Cinema—There’s no narrative in Bug Davidson’s experimental short, but there’s great music, inspired set design and nifty lighting. I’m not sure what it means, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, I watched it twice in a day. Is there a soundtrack available?

For more information on the Santa Fe Film Festival's shorts programs, visit


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