What to see at the DC Shorts Film Festival

September 18, 2013

The 10th annual DC Shorts Film Festival begins Thursday, bringing more than 150 films from 23 countries to venues in D.C., Virginia and Maryland. The movies -- all lasting between a minute and 30 -- have been sorted into different screenings that last about 90 minutes. Festival founder and director Jon Gann calls it a tapas approach.

"So in a 90-minute show you see about nine films," he says. "Something local and something foreign, something that taxes your brain and something fluffy. I feel like we take everyone on an emotional ride."


Graffiti led to inspiration for the Canadian film "Stalled," one of the selections at the DC Shorts Film Festival. (Photo by Dave Delvecchio)

The films were selected from about 1,200 submissions, and the slates are carefully curated, so you can't really go wrong. Even so, people always ask what to see, so here are a few films that have us buzzing:

"Chinatown"

Yi Chen's documentary looks at the evolution of the Washington, D.C. neighborhood through the lens of three residents, who are trying to hang on to the last vestiges of Chinese culture on a strip where an increasing number of storefronts are chain restaurants and bars.

"A Little Something on the Side"

Stephen Tobolowsky directed and stars in this comedy. The actor, known to many as Ned Ryerson (bing!), plays a husband trying to cut loose while evading the constant surveillance of his overbearing wife (played by another blast from the past: Justine Bateman).

"Stalled"

This experimental Canadian film uses messages scrawled on the walls of public bathrooms as a starting point to craft five different vignettes.

"The Morning After"

In this romantic comedy (director David Renaud's second selected for DC Shorts), the meet-cute takes place in bed after a woman has a wild night out. The only problem? She's engaged.

"Mi Ojo Derecho (Apple of My Eye)"

A favorite of festival director Gann, this Spanish drama by Josecho de Linares follows the relationship between a boy and his grandmother.

"Caution, the doors are opening!"

This year, the festival is focusing on Russian filmmakers, showcasing 18 shorts from the country. In this animated entry, buttons rule the world.

Tickets are $12-$15 per screening and $20-$40 for online access to more than 120 films. An all-access pass to screenings and online films costs $100. For more information about ticketing and showtimes, visit the DC Shorts Film Festival site.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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Maura Judkis · September 18, 2013