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CCFF 2017: Shorts Programs 1 & 2

May 13, 2017



Each year at the Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF), film critic Collin Souter has compiles a selection of short films and carefully compiles them into two programs. Although it was down to the wire, I can say this is the first year I was able plow through all sixteen shorts (which are split into two programs, screening today and tomorrow), which offer quite a variety of tone and styles – from animation to documentaries to experimental works – some really work and become quite memorable, while others may leave you perplexed. I respect and value Souter’s knowledge of filmmaking and eye for curating what must be a daunting project and appreciate the time and energy he’s put into presenting festival viewers a chance to broaden their cinematic experiences. 

HERE’S a great interview with Souter about the Shorts for this year, which also touches on the process of curating the Shorts Programs.

For time sake, all I’ve included in my rundown of all the films below is a very brief description of the short and my rating….




Hopptornet (Ten Meter Tower)




Screening: May 13, 2017, 1pm


Directors Mark Borchardt (“The Dundee Project”) and Laura Moss (“Fry Day”) will be in attendance for a Q&A.


Drawn & Recorded: Teen Spirit tells the story behind one of the most iconic songs ever written, animated in the style of a pop-up book. It all goes back to the night Kurt Cobain was inspired to write Smells Like Teen Spirit. Narrated by T Bone Burnett and directed by Drew Christie. RATING: ***

Approaching A Breakthrough – Back in New York after a stint in Los Angeles, Norman Kaminsky (Keiran Culkin) has a terrible argument with his girlfriend (Mae Whitman) just before running into a string of characters from his past. Despite his best efforts to run away from his problems, Norman can’t seem to escape them. Directed by Noah Pritzker. RATING: **1/2

Hopptornet (Ten Meter Tower) – A ten meter diving tower. People who have never been up there before have to choose whether to jump or climb down. The situation itself highlights a dilemma: to weigh the instinctive fear of taking the step out against the humiliation of having to climb down. TEN METER TOWER is an entertaining study of the human in a vulnerable position. Directed by Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van Aertryck. RATING: ***1/2

The Dundee Project – In his long-awaited follow-up to 1997’s “Coven,” filmmaker Mark Borchardt steps behind the camera again with “The Dundee Project,” a documentary chronicling a small town UFO festival in Wisconsin. Featuring interviews with eccentric locals, including “UFO Bob,” the film explores the annual ritual, which is equal parts sky watching and heavy drinking, and leaves Borchardt pondering whether any of it really happened at all. Directed by Mark Borchardt. RATING: **

Kaiju Bunraku – Here’s a day in the life of a husband and wife living in a world of giant monsters. Directed by Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer. RATING: ***

Tough – Some things can only be understood with maturity. New light is shed on childhood cultural misunderstandings when a Chinese mother and her British born daughter speak as adults for the first time. Directed by Jennifer Zheng. RATING: **1/2

Fry Day – An adolescent girl comes of age against the backdrop of serial killer Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989. Directed by Laura Moss. RATING: **

Hell You Talmbout – In the wake of the country’s social and political current events, Hell You Talmbout artfully confronts police violence, racial discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement through spoken word, tap dance, and most importantly, its impact as seen through the eyes of our youth. The inspirational young dancers of Seattle’s Northwest Tap Connection, a social justice-oriented dance studio, come together to confront the inescapable outrage that they feel living in a world plagued with injustices in the Black Community. Directed by Denzel Boyd, Joseph Webb, Tyler Rabinowitz. RATING: **1/2




Because the World Never Stops




Screening: May 14, 2017, 2:15pm


Because the World Never Stops – When we tune into a newscast, we expect a reassuring authority, but is what we see anything other than a performance? Shot behind the scenes during a live broadcast, Because the World Never Stops is a revelatory look at the hidden side of the evening news. Directed by Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van Aertryck. RATING: ***

The Arrival – A little boy feels betrayed when his mother has another son and decides to give her a taste of her own medicine–by summoning another mother. Directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. RATING: ***

Dawn of the Deaf – When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of deaf people must band together to survive. Directed by Robert Savage. RATING: **

Victor and Isolina – Creatively visualized through 3-D printing, two elderly Latinos embark on a resonating he said/she said account of the events that led them to live separately after more than 50 quirky and stressful years together. Directed by William “Davy” Caballero. RATING: ****

Night Shift – Olly Jeffries (Tunde Adebimpe | Band TV On The Radio, Nasty Baby) is an on-again, off-again actor. His long term gig as a bathroom attendant erupts on this night, forcing Olly to face his failing marriage and fleeting dreams. Directed by Marshall Tyler. RATING: ***

The Collection – Two friends stumble upon a unique and valuable treasure trove of movie memorabilia in Omaha, Nebraska. Directed by Adam Roffman. RATING: **

Nutag-Homeland – A non-narrative hand-painted visual poem about ideas of diaspora, homeland, and the tragic mass-deportations of the Kalmyk people during WWII. Directed by Alisi Telengut. RATING: **

Mare Nostrum – On a Mediterranean shore, a Syrian Father makes a decision that puts his daughter’s life at risk. Directed by Rana Kazkaz & Anas Khalaf. RATING: ***




Victor and Isolina

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