A number of short films are screening during the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and they deserve as much attention as the feature films.
The Other Morgan
This film quickly rose up to the top of my list of SXSW short films after viewing. It’s a hysterically absurd comedy. A young exterminator (Alison Rich) learns that there’s another version of her (Mary Holland) out in the world. As you can imagine, she begins to question all of her life choices. Honestly, I would say more but I don’t want to give it away before you watch. I really hope that Alison Rich makes a feature film out of this!
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Alison Rich
CAST: Alison Rich, Mary Holland, Jim O’Heir, and Chloe Wepper
The Mohel is about James (Daniel Maslany) and Lola (Kaelen Olm) as they face family expectations and financial strain upon flying in a mohel (Sam Rosenthal) for their son’s Brit Milah ceremony. For non-Jewish readers, this is what is referred to as the ceremony for one’s circumcision when boys are eight days old. The covenant between G-d and Abraham in Genesis 17:10 requires males getting circumcised.
I like this film but there’s also something to be said about what happens when the rabbi leaves. In short, Rabbi Fishel says that James and Lola’s son isn’t Jewish because Lola’s conversion was done by a controversial rabbi. This is really a whole conversation in and of itself. If you read my interview with writer/director Charles Wahl on Monday, you can see that we had a nice conversation about it. I’m also coming at the film from an Orthodox perspective although I did grow up attending a Conservative shul. Even in Orthodox Judaism, there are mixed opinions regarding the circumcision of non-Jewish children. Some will do the circumcision because it will mean a first step in a proper conversion down the road. Others won’t have anything to do with it.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Charles Wahl
CAST: Daniel Maslany, Kaelen Olm, and Sam Rosenthal
The gist of the film is that hidden secrets cause tension when two estranged sisters, Andy (Mary Holland) and Emily (Sarah Burns), are forced to confront each other while preparing for their ailing mother’s (Florence C.M. Klein). The film feels more relevant now than during its 2019 production.
Jess Brunetto makes her directorial debut with the film. If you’ve been wanting to see more of Mary Holland after watching Happiest Season, there are two short films during SXSW! I also think there is some potential here to expand Sisters into a feature.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Jess Brunetto
CAST: Mary Holland, Sarah Burns, Florence C.M. Klein, Jorma Taccone, Angelina Spicer, and Rob Huebel
Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before
Marvin Wexler (Charles Rogers) has never had coffee before. This film was shot during the pandemic and doesn’t ignore it. I better warn you now if you’re suffering from Zoom fatigue and want to move on to other short films. Anyway, Marvin is trying coffee for the first time and he wants to talk with anybody willing to listen to him. Does he succeed? You’ll just have to watch the film!
I’m a caffeine addict but I get my caffeine through Diet Coke. I cannot explain it but I do not drink coffee or tea. As such, I will never have Marvin’s experience of drinking coffee for the first time. You do you, Marvin!
DIRECTOR: Andrew Carter
SCREENWRITERS: Kahlil Maskati and Andrew Carter
CAST: Charles Rogers, Annie Sertich, Aaron Lamarr Burleson, Nirav Bhakta, Elizabeth Franco, Grant Reed, Malgosia Tolak, Malcolm Nicholas
Reklaw is as midnight it gets for midnight short films! If I’m watching this film, you already know it isn’t a horror film. This was my last SXSW film of Tuesday following four features and two other short films. That’s a lot of films if you ask me. Honestly, I really need to watch this a second time to truly understand it. Or maybe there isn’t a need to understand it? I don’t know. It’s certainly a work of art and I could tell this upon my initial viewing.
Basically, there is a team of altruistic vigilantes destroying evidence. Their goal here is to keep the maximum amount of people out of prison. However, the killer decides to revisit one of their clean-ups. It doesn’t really work out so well.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Polaris Banks
CAST: Lance Henriksen, Tasha Guevara, Scott Allen Perry, Clara Francesca Pagone, Polaris Banks, Bill Stinchcomb, Michael Cortez, Michael Schnick