(SIX SHORTS: 1) “La Perra,” written (in Spanish, with English subtitles) and directed by Hugo Maza, 17-minutes; 2) “We Have Decided Not to Die,” written and directed by Daniel Askill, 11-minutes; 3) “United We Stand,” written (in Norwegian, with English subtitles) by Are Sjaastad and directed by Hans Petter Moland, 9-minutes; 4) “Antichrist,” written (in Polish, with English subtitles) and directed by Adam Guzinski, 27-minutes; 5) “The Old Woman’s Shop,” written (in Portuguese, with English subtitles) and directed by Jane Malaquias, 15-minute; 6) “Ring of Fire,” written and directed by Andreas Hykade, 16-minutes; Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jonathan Howell; New Yorker Films; 2006)

“An uneven but imaginative and diverse collection of shorts.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An uneven but imaginative and diverse collection of shorts from Chile, Australia, Norway, Poland, Brazil and Germany. The films range from slightly above average to very good. Like most shorts, these films have been largely ignored by the public. It has been part of a series that Jonathan Howell has been regularly programming for the Big Apple’s BAM since 2000, the film also has a few theater releases at out-of-town festival sites.

My favorite was the Chilean erotic satire “La Perra” (The Bitch) (2002) directed by Hugo Maza and adapted from a story by Mexican poet and novelist Fabio Morabito. It has a bored wealthy upper-class couple role playing sexual fantasy games while pretending the sweet maid they just hired is a bitch and a thief.

Australian writer-director Daniel Askill’s “We Have Decided Not to Die” (2002) is a lyrical piece divided into three “rituals” of modern day transcendence, that’s competently executed through computer technology but its trippy images never really tripped me out.

My second favorite was Norwegian feature filmmaker Hans Petter Moland’s “De beste gar forste;” it’s based on a story by Hungarian-born writer-director Andre de Toth. It follows eight octogenarian blue-collar workers on their annual forest hike, whose numbers lessen every year but not their belief in solidarity; they stick together to free a pretty young backpacker from a swamp and then find themselves stuck in the mud, and instead of complaining wait patiently for help and joyfully sing “The International” as they slowly sink.

Adam Guzinski’s “Antychryst” (Poland, 2002) was the film I least liked because it was such a heavy watch and the rewards weren’t that great uncovering such masochistic behavior. It tells of a bully visualizing himself as the Antichrist in a post-apocalyptic sandy wasteland setting; as the game slowly gets out of hand with the Antichrist having the three younger boy playmates follow his sicko whims, the game becomes more daring and sinister and deadly; it’s a take-off on The Lord of the Flies.

My third favorite was Brazilian writer-director Jane Malaquiass’ “No Passo da Veia” (2002), an earthy slice of life film that follows an elderly grandmother as she leaves her poor but happy fishing village and is taken by sailboat to the mainland marketplace to buy her handsome fisherman grandson a birthday gift of a deodorant once she sells her chicken.

Andreas Hykade’s black-and-white animated fable “Ring of Fire” (2000) is narrated in English but was made in Germany. It’s set in the Old West, and has two horny cowboys take cover under the shade of a giant rock during the day and at night their sexual desires get the best of them and they drift off into a bazaar and incomprehensible Dali-esque landscaped nightmare that includes violent images of abused women and fragmented bodies. It’s mysteriously vague but certainly unpleasant and creepy—not quite the frontier place you would expect to find John Wayne.

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