Comedy films

Palm Springs ShortFest 2021 opens with comedy films and documentaries


The Palm Springs International ShortFest celebrated the return of in-person film festivals Tuesday night with a list of six ‘life-affirming’ comedy and documentary shorts, appearances by filmmakers and, potentially, a future red-haired spy.

The 27th annual ShortFest, held at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, is the first film festival in California to be held in person this year, according to Harold Matzner, president of the Palm Springs International Film Society. Last year’s event took place in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opening night lineup featured a mix of films meant to “put you in a good mood,” said Palm Springs International Film Society Artistic Director Lili Rodriguez.

“These are some of our favorite comedies from the festival and some of the most standout movies you’ll be seeing at ShortFest,” she added.

Following: ShortFest submissions are very ‘work’ oriented, organizers say

See the list: ShortFest kicks off this month in Palm Springs. Here are the 295 films

People enter the Camelot Theater to attend the opening night of the Palm Springs International ShortFest, June 22, 2021.

In “Break In,” Nousha (Kimia Behpoornia) accidentally sends an erotic fiction that she wrote about her crush for her crush. With the help of her best friend, Oliver (Riley Westling), she decides to break into her crush’s apartment and delete the text message, but, of course, things go wrong in the process.

“Break In” director, screenwriter and producer Alyssa Lerner and cinematographer Lucas Miller said on Tuesday that they decided to make “the silliest movie” with various puzzle pieces they had: their actress main, the other and two apartments to which they had access.

The short film is in competitionin three categories: Best Live Action Short Over 15 minutes, Best Comedy Short, and Best LGBT + Short.

“It feels really good. Honestly, we made this short film just to have fun together and practice a directing style that I’ve never done before, just to really go for the comedy,” Lerner said of several awards. “Even going into this festival, it was kind of like, ‘What? But it’s really adorable. And it’s nice to know that shorts can be a bit silly and not take themselves seriously. “

This is Miller’s first ShortFest, he said, and the experience has “so far been amazing.”

Among the short documentaries shown on Tuesday was “Just Hold On,” which featured 7-year-old Mutton Bustin champion Marlie McDonald of Houston. The event, similar to bull riding, features children riding or running sheep.

McDonald was born with an aggressive brain tumor and spent the first years of her life in hospital. Her parents always told her to hold on, as explained in the documentary, and she kept that motto with her when she became the Mutton Bustin champion in 2018.

Co-directors Sam Davis and Rayka Zehtabchi won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2019 for “Period. End of Sentence”. They said it took them a year to convince Nathalie McDonald, Marlie’s mother, to let them do the documentary, and that they only had two days to capture footage once she said Yes.

Actors and producers of "Just hang on" attend the opening night of the Palm Springs International ShortFest on June 22, 2021.

“It was kind of like, ‘Oh my God, Nathalie said yes, let’s get on a plane on July 4th and hang out with them,'” said Zehtabchi. “I think the most amazing thing about documentary, in filmmaking in general, is the ability to bring people together, and we kept saying, ‘Wow, it’s so cool that we’re in Texas in Right now, inside this family’s house, they “feed us, it’s so hot and we made new friends.”

Producer Mehrdad Sarlak said: “I have told them this many times, and I will say it until my last day, they are now part of my family, and I feel like a part of theirs. I love them very much. , and it was an honor to be able to tell Marlie’s story. “

One moment in the documentary that made viewers laugh was when Marlie McDonald said she wanted to be a spy when she grew up.

McDonald, decked out in cowboy boots and the Mutton Bustin ‘buckle she won, was asked on Tuesday if she still had any James Bond aspirations.

People attend the opening night of the Palm Springs International ShortFest on June 22, 2021.

“Well, my blanket is kind of burnt out already,” she said, which was greeted with plenty of applause and laughter from the audience.

“Just Hold On” premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival 2020, where it won the jury award for Best Texas Short Film, but Tuesday was the first time McDonald’s got to see himself on the big screen, which , she said, was “exciting” and even a “little weird”.

The film is in competition for the best documentary short.

The short film that drew the most laughter from the crowd was “David”, starring Will Ferrell, William Jackson Harper and Fred Hechinger. David (Harper) contacts his therapist (Ferrell) for an emergency session. Once they are together, David realizes that he is not the only one who needs help once his therapist’s son, David (Hechinger), interrupts the session.

Other films on the lineup included “Birdie”, “Don vs. Lightning” and “Snowy”. After the screening, a question and answer session was organized with the filmmakers present.

ShortFest will run through Monday and show 295 films, including 32 world premieres and 22 US premieres. More than 5,500 films from 104 countries have been submitted to the festival, organizers said.

Capacity in theaters will be up to three-quarters full and face masks are encouraged.

“Although the festival is a little different, our hope is that whether you are presenting a movie or watching movies that our next few days leave you inspired and engaged and most of all that you have a great time,” Rodriguez mentioned. “To you lovely, lovable people who choose to watch short films in theaters, you are a weird bunch, I love it.”

Ema Sasic covers health in the Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ema_sasic.


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