FYIDC: Get Shorty

by Editorial

The D.C. Shorts Film Festival delivers big entertainment in 27 minutes or less.

By Anne Kim-Dannibale

"Friend Request Pending" starring Penny Ryder and Judi Dench by Chris Croucher, directed by Chris Foggin.

In a city with dozens and dozens of film festivals and film-centered events, D.C. Shorts, the 9-year-old brainchild of Washington filmmaker Jon Gann, is probably best suited for the workaholic Washington lifestyle. All the films are under 27 minutes, which makes it easy to see a good number of them (or at least get a few quick hits in) without going cross-eyed. And the 140 films hailing from 27 countries run the gamut, creating an eclectic collection of celluloid fun. You won’t be bored. They’re also already audience approved, as Gann enlists a jury of audience members to hand-pick each one. It’s a good bet you’ll find more than a few to your liking.

Take for instance, “Friend Request Pending,” written and produced by the U.K.’s Chris Croucher, with Chris Foggin taking the directorial reins.  In this light-hearted comedy, Judi Dench spends the film’s 12 minutes experiencing the pitfalls of using technology for romantic pursuits. Sweet. You could book-end that with the heart-wrenching story of two Iranian women connected by a tragic secret in “Suddenly, Zinat” directed by Navid Azad. Or, try an animated short, perhaps something like Afarin Eghbal’s hauntingly beautiful documentary “Abuelas” or the silly-yet-exuberant Bangladeshi entrant “Attack of the Killer Mutant Chickens.”

An Iranian woman's world is sent into turmoil when the drug-addicted biological mother of her daughter shows up to reclaim her child in "Suddenly, Zinat."

"Abuelas," an animated documentary about a grandmother in Buenos Aires awaiting the birth of her grandchild uses real-life testimonials and animation to explore a troubled chapter under the Argentinian dictatorship of General Videla in which some 30,000 Argentinian's "disappeared."

Nayeem Mahbub's "Attack of the Killer Mutant Chickens" is just plain fun.

This year’s festival, which gets underway the first week of September (tickets are on sale now), includes even more reason to make the trek out to all four venues (E Street Cinema, Burke Theater, Atlas Performing Arts and Angelika/Mosaic). As in past years, organizers have enlisted the help of local talent in other ways: comedians performing live before certain comedies, burlesque artists doing their (ahem) “thing” alongside the festival’s more titillating selections. This year, it’s all about food. Eight food-themed flicks will include snacks prepared by chefs from Rasika West End, Bibiana, the Inn at Perry Cabin, PS7, 701, Birch and Barley and Hank’s on the Hill, among others. PLUS, parties around the festival are set to feature the mixology talents of Gina Chersevani, most recently of Hank’s on the Hill.

Families have plenty to choose from as well, with a number of free screenings of various child- and teen-appropriate selections timed to fit a busy family’s schedule.

Less-social cinemaphiles can skip that communal movie-going experience and watch online, too. Organizers are offering most of this year’s selections in HD through any tablet device or desktop computer for just $20. But, chef-prepared snacks are available only in theaters.

D.C. Shorts Film Festival, Sept. 6-16, at Landmark’s E Street Cinema, U.S. Navy Memorial Burke Theater, Atlas Performing Arts Center and the new Angelika Film Center/Mosaic. Tickets are available now, here. Free events require advanced ticket reservations.

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