The Movie Waffler Seattle Shorts - <i>THE ADEPT / SIGNS EVERYWHERE / BREATHE</i> | The Movie Waffler


We review three shorts from the upcoming Seattle Shorts Festival.

The fifth annual Seattle Shorts Film Festival takes place November 14th-15th and we've been given an early look at some of the shorts competing. Click the image below to book your tickets.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

The Adept
To create a credible intensity of emotion, or to build narrative suspense, is no mean feat in a short film. The brief window of a short’s running time doesn’t allow for extensive character development, protracted plotting or suspenseful scene setting. Short film making is the art at its very essence; where character, narrative and atmosphere are conjured almost immediately, or not at all.  In The Adept, Seattle witnesses an exciting endeavour at a sci-fi tinged thriller, a genre which relies on complexity of motivation and plot, and is therefore often overlooked by the short film medium, more often a vehicle comfortable with the ‘punchline’ dynamic of horror or comedy. A yuppie couple, in their brushed steel kitchen apartment, agonise over a dilemma which faces them in their shared profession. The two (Adam Greydon Reid and Jennifer Spence) are physicists, and while they mull over quandaries pertaining to data, mass and quantum superpositions, Ben, an amateur magician, gets out his playing cards to help him focus. However, the magic he executes involves more than simply hide the lady… As he expertly shuffles the pack, the cards slip and slide over each other as if they’re alive. And perhaps they are, because, in a flourish, they disappear! It turns out that Ben is more Prospero than Paul Daniels; he is an adept, a real magician.
As Ben and Maddy make good their escape from gun wielding government spooks, the film explores the mystic nexus between science and magic, the symbiotic phenomena that also constitutes the yin yang of cinema itself, and which is done exciting justice by The Adept.

Signs Everywhere
Signs Everywhere sees further seemingly impossible manifestations, with an average family guy (Tony Doupe, playing the appositely named ‘Mann’) shutting himself off from his squabbling family and the everyday monotony of commute/work/commute/home. You can’t blame him; as he stuffs his ipod headphones into his ears, we can hear his wife angrily inform their daughter that in her ripped jeans she looks ‘like a homeless person’. However, the swelling sadness of the music he attempts to block the world out with doesn’t entirely work, and as he makes his way through the day, he sees people brandishing signs that detail their various foibles and fears: the office doorman is ‘Suffering from PTSD’, a twentysomething in the park is ‘Living in Denial’ and, most horribly, the woman in the next cubicle holds up the plaintive ‘I Fear My Husband’.
Signs Everywhere suggests that the ostensible connectivity of technology (the daughter has a mac, workers stare into screens, Mann cleaves to his ipod) has eroded authentic human interaction. The mother’s insult has an ironic callback later, as the film culminates in car collision involving a homeless lady and an ensuing moment of genuine contact. The Twilight Zoney concept of Signs Everywhere intrigues, and, for a film about a privileged, well off white dude realising the worth of his lot, is strangely affecting.

No such privilege checking is to be found in the claustrophobic terrors of Breathe. Set in 1944 Warsaw, we follow a group of Scouts as they traipse in panic through the sewers of the city. Based on true events concerning the Polish victims of Nazi occupation forced to use Warsaw’s tunnel system in order to evade capture, the film also features the turncoat Germans that aided their escape. Breathe is grimy and oppressive, creating a true sense of panic as the characters scramble for their very lives among the dead water and filth. At only 5 minutes 12 seconds, Breathe is brief but effective, conveying its unflinching message of courage and humanity with lasting impact.