That slightly creepy accordian player was wooing people into the cinema on Saturday afternoon. Not sure how succesful that was but plenty of people were craning their necks to look at him.
In the end I only saw two selections (you buy a ticket for a set of six, thematically linked shorts that run for about an hour and a half): a national set of only Japanese movies and an international set with the vague-ass title "A Sense of Wonder."
The Japanese selection featured three short animated pieces that weren't much more than musical interludes on some arty TV show. It also had quite a nicely observed piece about relationships in Tokyo and a brief, funny relationship skit where everything was drawn onto fingers. It ended with what was essentially an episode of macho sci-fi anime lunacy that was ok, but not what I really wanted to see at a short film fest. I wasn't that impressed.
The "Sense of Wonder" thing was much better. There was a fantastic Italian short about a disgraced football referee who is banished to Sicilian non-league matches. It was really, really good.
Then there was a very strange and beautiful film Danse Macabre that followed a body through death and all the various subsequent procedures, all the way to cremation, but all the while the body was moving, being lifted or sliding or falling. It's very difficult to describe, but again really, really good.
Oh, OK, I just looked it up and apparently it won the Best Canadian Short award and was described by the jury as being “of such devastating beauty that watching it was [like] having fireworks shattering your heart." That pretty much sums it up for me too. There's a thirty second trailer for the ten minute short on youtube too. I don't really know how one goes about tracking these things down to buy or whatever, but if you get a chance to watch this, do.
There was one film that was so excruciating for me (not saying it was terrible, just that I enjoyed it so little) that I was praying for it to end. There was an animation that I'm sure was good stuff but that I had a very hard time following for some reason. And there was a long, trippy thing that I could stand until it turned into a bad 90s rave video and after that, no matter how pretty it got it dragged interminably.
But still, three out of the six pieces were spectacularly good, really some of the best short films I've ever seen. The best one was probably Next Floor, again a trailer here:
... and I won't tell you more except that for the five of us who went it was unanimously voted the best film. Oh, I think both that and Danse Macabre were produced by the same company. Good work lads!