Tribeca Festival 2024 Short Film Reviews

Short films comprise an important part of the Tribeca Festival each year. Although I don’t generally cover shorts, I was able to catch a few exceptional entries that deserve a little attention. These films may not be long, but they’re high quality.

Catharsis

Catharsis - Brian Logvinsky’s experimental film shows the influence of David Lynch. It’s an intriguingly bizarre tale about a young dancer named Alex (Harrison Ball) with anger management issues following the death of his mother. They come to a head when he beats someone up at a club. His aunt Anya (played by rock legend Deborah Harry) makes him see an unorthodox therapist, Dr. Leechny (Marc Geller), whose nightmarish, hypnosis-based techniques unlock something in Alex’s mind. The centerpiece of this 17-minute film is a dance sequence with Alex moving down a NYC street, the camera following and eventually swirling around him. Catharsis is beautifully photographed and full of kinetic energy. It’s great to see Debbie Harry onscreen again, too. This stylish short holds you in its grip from beginning to end.


Jumpman

Jumpman - If you own a pair of Nikes, you probably won’t look at them the same way again after seeing Tom Dey’s Jumpman. This 22-minute film introduces us to Co Rentmeester, a photographer who was hired to take pictures of a young Michael Jordan. He came up with a conceptual idea that involved capturing the basketball phenom in the midst of a jump, his arm stretched out with a ball in his hand. If that sounds like the famous Air Jordan logo, you’re right. Rentmeester claims Nike ripped off his image. The movie dives into his allegation, then goes into the reasons why photography is difficult to copyright, making it easy to swipe the work of artists. It’s a gripping story that looks not only at the creation of an iconic image but also the David vs. Goliath battle that sometimes takes place between creators and companies.


Shut Up, Jack

Shut Up, Jack - Imagine, if you can, Inside Out combined with Curb Your Enthusiasm, and that will give you a sense of Alec Bewkes’ 9-minute comedy short. Bewkes also stars as Jack, an awkward guy trying to fit in at a party. He makes a risqué joke that goes over poorly, then spirals into anxiety. His mind is represented by a room where multiple versions of Jack, including a “cool” Jack, argue about how to best respond to the gaffe. Shut Up, Jack is a cringe comedy that’s about cringe, as none of the character’s ideas go very far in improving the situation. Despite running less than ten minutes, there are several really good laughs to be found here. I’d like to see Bewkes adapt his story to a feature-length film.


Lice

Jooyein [Lice] - A 12-year-old girl named Roshni may have a case of head lice. To keep her secret, she spreads a rumor that the class outcast, Chakor, has it. The two then strike up an unexpected friendship. That may sound like a strange concept for a movie, yet it works. In a mere 13 minutes, director Vindhya Gupta paints an authentic portrait of adolescent insecurity and burgeoning friendship. What’s especially impressive is the depth of the performances given by the two lead actresses, Perry Chhabra and Priyanshi Sharma, both whom convey a world of emotions with just their eyes. Jooyein [Lice] is a sweet, sensitive tale that makes you forget you’re watching a movie and feel like you’re eavesdropping into the lives of Roshni and Chakor.


Depression Is a Beast

Depression Is a Beast - Actress Jenna Kannell has appeared in The Bye Bye Man, Terrifier 2 and Bad Boys: Ride or Die. In Courtney Dixon’s documentary short Depression Is a Beast, she describes her history of depression and how she found comfort in watching horror movies – a comfort that led her to eventually seek work in the genre. As Kannell narrates her own tale, she also appears in staged scenes designed to dramatize depression using horror iconography. The effect is dazzling because it really captures the terror experienced by people who suffer from depression. Coming at the topic in a horror-infused way might inspire fright film fans dealing with depression to seek the kind of help Kannell has. Running 11 minutes, Depression Is a Beast brings a valuable new perspective to the conversation around mental health.



© 2024 Mike McGranaghan