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Julian Sands in “The Escape”

I had a chance to watch seven of the narrative short films in the Tribeca Film Festival. Some of them include big stars and have excellent production values.

It’s the last one on the list that caught my attention most. Check out this rundown:

“Approaching a Breakthrough” – In this short by Noah Pritzker set in Central Park, Kieran Culkin plays Norman Kaminsky who is having a terrible argument with his girlfriend played by Mae Whitman. Suddenly, he’s confronted with several people he owes money to, including two past therapists. Of course, this is all in his head.

“Curpigeon” is a sweet 10-minute film by Dmitry Milkin with beautiful animation and no dialogue. It’s about pigeons and the elderly men who feed them in the park. I have to admit that it was heartwarming enough to bring tears to my eyes at the end.

“The Escape” – In this enigmatic British short by Paul Franklin, Julian Sands is told by a man that he can go to another world and escape into a fantasy of his own choosing. The acting, direction, and production values of this almost 20-minute film are all excellent, and it’s compelling during its duration.

“Fry Day” is a piece about a teenage girl who is coming of age right around the time of Ted Bundy’s execution. She hangs out near the prison to take photos of the people who are waiting to hear that Bundy is dead. A boy shows interest in her, and a man stops to ask her if she needs a ride. Through the expressions on her face, we see her confusion about how to deal with her fears and conflicting feelings. An interesting study that could make for an even more interesting feature. Directed by Laura Moss.

In “Life Boat,” Stephen Dorff plays a guidance counselor who forces six teenagers to engage in a game of survival in which they have to decide who they would save and who they wouldn’t if they had to make that decision. It’s a brutal, momentarily violent exploration with an excellent performance by Dorff. Written and directed by Lorraine Nicholson.

“Odd is an Egg” – This animated short directed by Kristin Ulseth is about a kid named Odd who is afraid his egg-shaped head is going to get injured and crack. Then, he falls in love with Gunn and discovers that what he fears most may be the best thing that ever happened to him. It received the Best Animated Short award from the jury.

A still from “The World in Your Window”

“The World in Your Window” – This New Zealand short by Zoe McIntosh was my favorite of the narrative shorts I watched. Again, I hope she’s able to turn this into a feature. The acting and production values are stellar, and it even has a gorgeous score by Rhian Sheehan. Kudos, too, to cinematographer Marty Williams. The story is about a boy and his father living in squalor, as his dad tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to recover from the loss of his wife. The boy tries to take care of his dad and gets some help from a local transexual, whom the boy sweetly calls “Mr. Lady.” I cried at the end.

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