Apr 30, 2017

'Shorts: Postcards' at Tribeca

On Friday evening I attended a program of five short films at the Tribeca Film Festival. They were titled 'Postcards,' presented as "five female-centric stories where the past meets the present." There was no introduction other than a brief welcome by a festival programmer who let us know that four of the directors were present in the audience. The theater was totally packed.

The films ran about 20 minutes each, with each one beginning right after the other. The first film, 'Viola, Franca,' was an incredibly powerful film about the first rape trial in Italy in the 1960s. Shot on film and very aesthetically European, it was an incredible way to begin the program. The second film was called 'Fry Day,' about a young girl coming of age in middle America. It was also heavy, like the first film, and my friend turned to me and said, "Do you think the next one might be happy?" I said probably not - the female experience is often not a happy one.

The third film, 'Dive,' was a Venezuelan film that fell slightly short compared to the first two. While still somewhat thematically heavy, it did not develop as much depth as the others had. The fourth film is where I really knew the programming was struggling, as we watched 'Tokyo Project' a big budget, indulgence from executive producer Lena Dunham and starring Elisabeth Moss. It very much felt like the outlier, and I feel like it was programmed for political reasons more than anything. It was also the man's story much more than the woman's, so I'm not sure why it was included in this series.

The final short was called 'Little Bird,' another period piece set in 1941 - I thought it was interesting to begin and end the program with such obviously period narratives - and while the editing might have helped the story have a little more clarity, it was a powerful, relevant story about abortion and independence.

It was the first time I have attended a shorts program at a major film festival, and overall I loved it; however, a couple of the films were not as enthralling as the others, and out of the 20,000 submissions I like to think they might have had some better options. Still, it's always exciting to see women's stories given center stage in a program such as this.

- Sarah Dawson

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