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A preview of the Arkansas Shorts Movie Competition

Amid the countless video noise of Instagram and TikTok, how will you discover rising filmmakers with actual messages that make you suppose and really feel?

Think about the seventeenth annual Arkansas Shorts Movie Competition, held on the historic Malco Theatre in downtown Sizzling Springs Friday, Jan. 5-Sunday, Jan. 7. This 12 months’s slate encompasses a file breaking 80 shorts from Arkansan, North American and worldwide filmmakers. The choices span a variety of genres, together with experiments that prioritize progressive storytelling over becoming firmly into a particular class. The pageant additionally guarantees Q&A classes, workshops, lectures and after-parties.

To get your palate moist, right here’s a preview/evaluate of 5 of the chosen gems — all shot in Arkansas — that shall be screening subsequent weekend. 

(Full disclosure: Finally 12 months’s Arkansas Shorts, I used to be so captivated by the films and creatives I encountered that I promptly began taking film classes at Low Key Arts, the group producing the occasion. Two of my movies shall be proven at this 12 months’s pageant.)

“Goodbye, Child”

Author-director Kristine Artymowski stars because the protagonist in “Goodbye, Child” (8:47), a poignant story a couple of widow grappling with the latest lack of her husband. When a tortoise exhibits up at her door, Kristine is satisfied it’s her reincarnated husband crawling in to rejoice their 51st wedding ceremony anniversary. Kristine’s hovering grown daughter, well-played by Mindy Van Kuren, lacks a compassionate view of her mom’s imaginative grieving. The filmmaker employs the tortoise character as a metaphor, tapping into the animal’s symbolism of endurance and endurance — qualities important for strolling grief’s journey. Artymowski makes use of music and dance as key grips, guiding the protagonist by her arc. If this movie doesn’t transfer you to tears, you’ll not less than ponder fantasy’s position in therapeutic.


For a youthful tackle the dangers of affection, try “Heartbreak” (6:57), the promising directorial debut by John Sullivan. On this coming-of-age drama, innocence takes the lead as Jacob (Dallas Yelvington) makes a convincing case for Addica (Elysia Religion) to be his girlfriend. Although she finds his strategy “dorky,” she readily falls for him a la Hollywood romance. We smile at their tender exchanges as their relationship unfolds in cinematic Sizzling Springs road and park scenes. In an affecting turning level, Addica blurts out, “I really like you,” and we count on Jacob to reciprocate, however he fumbles and freezes. Our hearts cringe on this shattering second, one which Jacob deeply regrets and should resolve. 

“Relaxation Not Assured”

Discover an absurdist spin on relationship failings and the burden of guilt with “Relaxation Not Assured” (15:28), a darkish comedy the place a person chooses sleep over self-examination. Director Gabriel Henk stirs our frustration with a middle-aged man (Marx Mitchell) who can’t emotionally meet the wants of his spouse, runaway daughter and drug-addicted son. Image this character because the lonely man on the bar in Edward Hopper’s well-known portray, “Nighthawks.” In daring, succinct strikes, we witness disturbing scenes as the person justifies his limp responses. With a musical background in piano and violin, Henk skillfully scores the movie with classical music, highlighting the irony and disappointment of an individual trapped in existential angst. Control this rising director; one other of his initiatives earned a spot within the 2023 Cannes Movie Competition showcase for rising filmmakers.

“Face of Your Father”

“Face of Your Father” (10:30) begins with a Homeland Safety cryptozoological TV alert, however the true hazard explored by the movie lies inside a house. Director Jacob McKellar bravely delves into the dynamics of a father (Ted Hoffstater) coming back from jail and the emergency confronted by teenage Owen (Jaxson Hamilton) as he confronts his father’s bodily abuse of his mom (Kendel Haycock). Owen’s mom provides to the psychological pressure by begging him to endure the monster-dad (“For those who love me, you’ll strive”), and we root for him to face as much as this home horror. A superb contact is the juxtaposition of animated segments from Maurice Sendak’s “The place the Wild Issues Are.” A line from the e-book, “We’ll eat you up — we love you so,” takes on layered that means. Chris Millham, McKellar’s director of images, enhances the depth with fractured pictures, excessive close-ups and weird angles.


We’ve all skilled that neighbor we will’t stand, the one who feedback on how we trim the hedges or assaults us with nosy questions. In “Screamer” (6:16), filmmaker Debra Fuller flips the script on this widespread situation by taking queer characters who usually discover themselves on the receiving finish of judgment and making them confront their very own biases. Fuller’s film comedically explores a neighborhood state of affairs between two lesbian {couples} — Miriam (Caroline Holt) and Sarah (Gwendolyn Paige Herzig), and Ruth (Caroline McPhail) and Naomi (Tracy Grinstead-Everly) — and their obnoxious neighbor, Peter (Jason Durkee). Miriam wakes within the evening to screams and works laborious to persuade her companion and mates that Peter is undoubtedly a wife-beater. However these characters and all of us want reminders in regards to the perils of exaggerating somebody’s faults to the purpose of turning them right into a villain.

Head here to buy tickets to Arkansas Shorts and to discover a full schedule of the pageant’s compelling choices. 

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