Kia Ora and welcome to the August edition of the Show Me Shorts Screening Room. Here we’ll take a look at some short films you can find online that we find interesting and try to give some perspective, background, or at least some (hopefully) relevant anecdotes about the films we discuss on the 1st of each month.
I’m Heidi, the Festival Coordinator here at Show Me Shorts and this month I’d like to share with you three short documentaries that I’ve enjoyed. Making short documentaries is a growing trend, and this has been reflected in the Show Me Shorts Programme over the years. Documentaries seek to illuminate and inspire, but within this genre the range and scope is vast. In narrowing this subject down for this blog, I’ve decided to focus on three short documentaries that to me, are about realizing your dreams. They are all inspiring, not because of their technical skill, but because of the power of their subjects.
There can always been an uneasy balance between which element is more important: the story or the way in which it’s told? With documentaries you could argue that the subject is 80% of the story, and the other 20% is an added bonus. Certainly with feature length documentaries, it’s highly important to be able to make a film with high production values and a more complex narrative structure. But what about those tiny stories; those moments that are beautiful to capture but perhaps don’t have the story complexity, or you don’t have the knowledge, or the gear, or the time, to get them perfect? That’s when short documentaries can be the perfect form.
Kurt-E: In My Blood
The first documentary I want to share is one that featured in the Show Me Shorts programme in 2010. This documentary falls into the category of both not enough knowledge and, sadly, not enough time. However, it is powerful precisely because of its rawness. This is a reminder of the nature of life: there is not always enough time to do the things you want in the way you wanted. We forgive the technical failings because the beauty of this film lies in the brave honesty of the filmmaker, Kurt Filiga, and his family.
Kurt was 20 years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia, and had recently started studying media. He wanted to be a documentary maker. Documenting his battle with cancer gave him the chance to realize this dream.
Life On Six Strings: Guitar Documentary
The second film I’ve chosen is called “Life On Six Strings: Guitar Documentary” by Fred Tschepp. Here the filmmaker uses short film to tell an interesting story with limited scope and manages to put the subjects of the film completely at ease. It’s hard at times not to put our own value judgments on the family and their life choices, but they feel comfortable to tell their story, which, despite the low-budget quality of the film, is what gives this film heart. Ben is a young man who’s grown up in dubious circumstances in a housing estate in Croydon, outside London, “home schooled” rather eclectically, and stayed within his small comfort zone his whole life. But Ben has a passion for making guitars. This documentary is a touching account of how it’s not how huge your dream is, but how you realize it that counts.
Silver & Light
The final documentary shows much more technical skill. “Silver & Light” is a slick account of photographer Ian Ruther’s passion. It’s the portrait of a man who’s turned his van into a giant camera and goes around shooting huge photographs. His aim he says, is to connect all of America with their stories through the lenses of the camera (and social media). He invites people to ask him to their hometown so he can take photos of their towns. You can check this project out on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/ianbeaudouxcompany.
In “Silver and Light” you can see that the filmmaker is taking a risk to make something beautiful, but also reminds you how easily he could fail with the venture. And that kind of risk goes with every film – even the most promising ones are at some point a tenuous idea that can and would fail without the passion of the filmmakers that drive them. This quote from Ian Ruther sums up this film to me, and indeed the spirit of all three documentaries I’ve chosen:
“Life grants us a series of opportunities, and those opportunities come with a price … This project is about doing what you love. If you’ve been searching your whole life for something you love, and you’d found it. What would you be willing to sacrifice?”
I hope that these documentaries do what they’re meant to do, inspire you. Thanks for joining me and hope to see you next month for our September installment.