Don’t miss foreign short dramas at Orlando Film Festival

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"Pushing Night Away"
  • "Pushing Night Away"
With roughly 400 films, the Orlando Film Festival has grown into one of the largest movie festivals in the world. So chances are you will find something that suits your taste, especially if you’re into short films, which range from comedy to drama to science fiction to horror, and to just about any sub-genre you’d want. But before you go for the obvious, mainstream choice, please consider the “Foreign Dramas 2” block.

Having premiered on Friday night, that block plays just once again, on Monday, October 23, at 2 p.m. (As with all festival films, it’s playing at Cobb Plaza Cinema Café in downtown Orlando. This one is slated for theater 10.) Though the block includes just four films, three of the four are so good they could easily be short-listed for best narrative short at the Oscars. And the fourth is no slouch either.

The German-language Vera’s Tongue in my Mouth Full of Chocolate (3 stars on 0-5 scale), directed by Hellmut Mario Fulss, is an odd love story between an old socialist curmudgeon and a housekeeper who comes to work for him and his son. Though they can’t agree on food or politics, they somehow manage to bond over a bottle of Riesling. Unfortunately, just when the 13-minute film is hitting its stride, it ends. But, hey, being left wanting more is still an admirable achievement for a short film.
"The Transfer"
  • "The Transfer"

Piscina
(4 stars), or Pool, is next. Directed by Leandro Goddinho, this 29-minute Portuguese-language film is a unique and haunting examination of the Nazi’s persecution of gay men and women during World War II. Searching for the truth about her recently deceased grandmother and armed with only a half-century-old letter to guide her, a young woman seeks answers about her family’s history and her own identity.

Better still is The Transfer (4 stars), a deceptively simple 22-minute look at the transportation of a Palestinian prisoner by Israeli soldiers. Helmed by Michael Grudsky and filmed in Hebrew, the movie examines what happens when captor and captive are suddenly forced to set aside their differences and cooperate, if only briefly, for their common good. It’s a tiny lesson in humanist filmmaking.

The magical pièce de résistance is Pushing Night Away (5 stars), a 23-minute Norwegian film by Jade Hærem Aksnes. Pairing a desperate, suicidal man with a hopeful girl wanting nothing more than to survive, the film focuses on opposites: real and unreal, light and dark, life and death. Unapologetically surreal yet grounded in heartbreaking realism, it’s the best short film I’ve seen so far this year.

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