We haven’t done a shorts stack in a while! I’ve missed it, to be honest. The shortlist voting window closes today, so we wanted to take a look at two live action shorts that could find themselves in the hunt to continue on the road to Oscars. Which one of these sounds like a surer bet?
Cassius has been working as a garbageman for years, and if he had any passion for the job at all, it seems to have been lost. When he returns home to his apartment, he is alone except for the company of his pet bird. A lonely photograph of a young Cassius with a young woman sits admiringly as he chain smokes in darkened space. When Cassius is unceremoniously laid off, his life takes an even more dire turn.
When Cassius gives his money away to someone else on the subway and sets his bird free, we are helpless to stop him. He draws himself a bath, plugs in a hairdryer, and closes his eyes as he hits the switch…but nothing happens. His determination to end his own life is thwarted by faulty wiring. Cassius sets out to replace the fuse, but no bodega, hardware store, or corner shop has the right replacement. “Too old,” they almost all tell him, as if they are insulting him one last time while they can. Is the fuse blowing due to his building’s lack of maintenance or is it not his time to go yet?
Director Kevin Haefelin drenches us in mood–Cassius apartment is kept mostly dark–but he leans into some unexpected humor given the themes and unexpected turns The Fuse takes. Jorge Gambino keeps a hardened look on his face, and we realize there are equal amounts of sadness in his eyes. He and Danny Trejo need a collaboration–stat.
How we process trauma varies from person to person. We need to respect how people cope and deal with things have happened in their lives, and that thesis is sneakily planted in Nitzan Mager’s Run Amok. This is a film that is bound to leave an impression on every viewer.
Meg drags her enormous harp case down the hallways of her school to meet her friend, Penny, before they enter Principal Linda’s office. They are there to pitch a show to her, and the principal is touched that these young girls are putting a performance together to commemorate an event that happened a decade prior. Just the image of that huge, black harp case is enough to draw us in. Some of us don’t even take the harp into consideration when it comes to instruments, let alone think about how it’s transported.
Meg plays while Penny sings, and the first song is Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. Principal Linda and Mr. Shelby (who encourages Meg’s creativity) are confused and then alarmed. They cut the song short, and express concern that the song is not appropriate. “You’re doing a re-enactment of the whole thing?” Linda asks. “Well, yes. But it’s a musical,” Meg replies, matter-of-factly. It doesn’t take long for us to realize what real-life event occurred ten years ago, but we soon learn why Meg wants to produce this show.
Mager’s bold film is presented in a light fashion, but, no doubt, some people will want to have a conversation when it comes to treading lightly when it comes to trauma and what is and is not appropriate. Do we have the right to tell someone that they can’t cope with their own lives in a specific way? I don’t think we do. Meg is turning to creation to help her pain–she is hoping that this performance will also give her answers to the questions left behind.