Positioned at the end of the calendar year, AFI Fest has a reputation for rounding up the hottest shorts winding up their festival circuit and launching new films that will be the shining stars of 2013. While the majority of festival’s 56 official selections came via traditional channels, AFI FEST Associate Director of Programming Lane Kneedler told Indiewire, “This year, there are a handful of short films that we found in unusual ways.”
Kneedler gave Indiewire a sneak preview of the festival’s shorts roster while highlighting programming backstories of five noteworthy discoveries.
Tumblr detective work: “Whateverest”
A fascinating 15-minute doc by Oslo-born music video/commercial director Kristoffer Borgli, “Whateverest” was social networking discovery.
Lane Kneedler explained, “One of our programmers, Dilcia Barrera, follows a lot of artists who have accounts on Tumblr. She saw photos and clips on Tumblr of the film as a work-in-progress, real behind-the-scenes material, and sought out the artist.”
“Whateverest” depicts a young man who calls himself Inspector Norse and copes with life’s disappointments by dancing in the streets and concocting homemade drugs. Norwegian DJ Todd Terje did a song inspired by Norse, which in turn inspired the documentary. Clips of both the music video and the doc can still be found on Tumblr.
YouTube Scouring: “88:88”
It used to be if a short film was available online it had no hope of being programmed at a festival. Now the line dividing Internet sensations and festival selection is obliterated.
“’88:88” was in a competition on YouTube,” said Kneedler. “We checked it out online and wrote to the filmmaker, asking if he would be interested in submitting to the festival for consideration.”
The 14-minute sci-fi thriller directed by Joey Ciccoline was a top ten finalist in the YouTube Your Film Festival, which had 15,000 entries. Ciccoline, who previously directed music videos and a comedy webseries, is credited with writing, directing, shooting, editing, producing and doing the visual effects on this very impressive short in which a woman chains herself down to fight against an all-powerful force.
Off the Beaten Path Scouting: “Bradley Manning Had Secrets”
“I saw “Bradley Manning Had Secrets” at the Rotterdam Film Festival screening room, in a little cubicle,” said Kneedler, who praised the animated short’s style and story. “We want people to keep talking about Bradley Manning, thinking about him, and I want as many people to know his story as possible.“
The 6-minute animated UK short by Adam Butcher builds on the actual instant messages sent by the U.S. soldier involved passing classified information in the WikiLeaks situation. The filmmaker and his animator Ben Claxton have spent decades collaborating on freeware computer games, which no doubt influenced their rotoscope technique.
Kneedler also recommends another off-the-beaten-path find, the amazing Brazilian 13-minute party setpiece, “Dogs Are Said to See Things (Dizem Que Os Cães Veem Coisas,” directed by Guto Parente, which was discovered at the Locarno Film Festival. “It’s always hard to predict, but I think maybe we’ll see ‘Dogs…’ in Sundance in 2013. It’s got a good year ahead of it. Another film I had written in my comments, ‘If this does not play Sundance, I’ll be shocked’ is ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,’ written and directed by Stephen Dunn. That’s one that came straight through the submissions process and is playing in front of a feature at our festival.”
Insider’s Tip: Nano Sci Fi Tales
The shortest films at AFI Fest are a trio of less-than-a-minute quirky sci fi scenarios created by Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, who is much loved on the festival circuit for his Oscar-nominated 2003 short “7:35 de la mañana” and features “Timecrimes” and “Extraterrestrial.”
“We’ve had Nacho Vigalondo at the festival twice now before with feature films,” said Kneedler. “Michael Lerman, the artistic director of the Philadelphia Film Festival, forwarded us a link to let us know that Nacho had new short films out. We love his short shorts and thought these would be a fun thing to pepper through a midnight shorts program.”
AFI FEST 2012 presented by Audi runs November 1 through 8 in Hollywood, California.