Like all compilations, this collection of award-winning short films from Chile, Australia, Norway, Poland, Brazil and Germany is uneven. But the individual components are unusually strong; the best are excellent, and the least-distinguished are above average.
Based on a story by Mexican poet and novelist Fabio Morabito, the 17-minute, Chilean director Hugo Maza's "La Perra" (2002) revolves around a wealthy couple (Claudia Celedon, Boris Quercia) who compensate for the emptiness of their lives with sex, liquor and cruel accusations against their maids, whom the wife declares thieves. When plain, quiet Camelia (Catalina Saavedra), repeatedly demonstrates her scrupulous honesty, the wife becomes increasingly incensed, bitterly insisting that Camelia is not only a thief but an insidious bitch, the titular perra. Australian writer-director Daniel Askill's 11-minute "We Have Decided Not to Die" (2002), is a tone poem divided into three "ritual"; in each, death is eluded through a series of computer manipulations. A woman (Kasia Werstak) rises from the bottom of a pool in "Birth"; a young man (Daniel Askill) leaps gracefully from between two cars that collide with each other head-on in "Between"; and in "Rebirth," another young man (Jordan Askill) leaps from the window of a high building. The end result is handsome but thin. Norwegian feature filmmaker Hans Petter Moland's melancholy, nine-minute "De beste gar forste" follows a group of aging blue-collar workers on a forest hike. Their numbers are thinner every year, but their faith in the power of solidarity is undimmed; they work together to free a pretty young backpacker from a bog, only to find themselves trapped, singing "The International" as they slowly sink. Based on a story by Hungarian-born writer-director Andre de Toth (best known for the pioneering 1953 3-D horror film HOUSE OF WAX), Adam Guzinski's excoriating, 27-minute "Antychryst" (Poland, 2002) chronicles the bitter revenge of three small boys against a vicious bully (Marcin Zaluski) who declares himself a demon; a small, sharp variation on The Lord of the Flies, it's tough to watch and tougher to forget. Brazilian writer-director Jane Malaquiass' 15-minute "No Passo da Veia" (2002) follows a devoted grandmother (Francisca Ribeiro da Silva) as she undertakes an all-day trek to sell a chicken and use the proceeds to buy a birthday gift for her grandson (Luciano Araujo); it's a poignant slice of life in a poor fishing village. Finally, Andreas Hykade's black-and-white animated fable "Ring of Fire" (2000) sets a story of beauty, brutality and eroticism against the backdrop of Old West imagery. Though narrated in English, it was made in Germany and refracts the imagery of the American frontier through a nightmarish prism of tentacled women, phallic violence and fragmented bodies. It's a creepy closer bound to lurk in your dreams for years to come.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: NR
- Review: Like all compilations, this collection of award-winning short films from Chile, Australia, Norway, Poland, Brazil and Germany is uneven. But the individual components are unusually strong; the best are excellent, and the least-distinguished are above avera… (more)