A Look at the AFF 2013 Shorts Lineup (So Far)

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The full lineup for the 2013 Austin Film Festival has yet to be fully revealed, but the first wave of feature titles was announced a few days ago and news of the short film program has been inventively trickling out via the Twitter feeds of AFF Film Department Director Ryan Darbonne and Director of Programming Bears Fonte.

This week I checked in with Bears to find out more about the selections, which vary wildly in tone, style and worldview (that's a good thing, of course). He gave me brief descriptions of each film and also revealed which shorts have Texas and/or Austin connections. Whether you’re looking to push yourself to explore the unknown or just filling an empty time slot when you don’t know what else to see, sitting down for a couple of shorts programs is usually a smart film festival strategy. 

To help guide you a little, here's what we know about this year's promising AFF Short Films lineup:

  • Abandoned -- Haunted by memory, a Romantic grapples for meaning after the unexplained disappearance of his lost love.  
  • Barbie Boy -- A boy who plays with dolls is forced to reconsider things after his father tells him he's different.
  • Blessing in Disguise -- After being dumped, Katie is devastated to find out she has herpes. But when she meets a charming guy who also has herpes, Katie starts to rethink her fate. Maybe contracting an incurable venereal disease isn't such a bad thing - until she learns things aren't quite what they seem.
  • Bug People -- In this playful essay film, the filmmaker investigates our culture's discomfort with all things many-legged.
  • Colera -- A town take the law into their own hands, paying the consequences.
  • Conversation About Cheating With My Time Traveling Future Self -- This is an off-beat dramedy questioning faith, fidelity, and love following one man as he urgently travels back in time to tell himself one important thing: that his life will get better if he cheats on his girlfriend.
  • Delicacy -- A culinary connoisseur and a chef go on a hunt for a rare animal.
  • Dust -- Todd follows young Jessica, and her Mum home from school. He waits until nightfall before breaking into their house. While her Mum’s busy in the bath, Todd creeps into Jessica’s bedroom, where events take an unexpected turn...
    Fun Fact: This short stars big shot actor Alan Rickman. As Bears tweeted the other day, "how'd he [the film's director] manage that?"

  • Euthanas S.A. -- Would you like to die the same way your icon did? Would you like to imitate the death of some memorable scene? Euthanas Inc.: For those who need or want to put a legitimately spectacular end to their lives.
  • Fool's Day -- Fool's Day is a dark comedy about a fourth grade class that pulls an innocent April Fool's prank on their teacher... that accidentally kills her. Panicked and convinced they will go to prison, the blood-splattered classmates try to cover up the murder and dispose of the body before their D.A.R.E. officer shows up for his weekly lesson.
    Fun Fact: Fool's Day is the only short listed on BuzzFeed's 13 Films You Haven't Seen but Must See in 2013 list. 
  • Four Brothers. Or Three. Wait... Three (World Premiere) -- Three brothers have to figure out what to do with their newly undead brother before their parents wake up. A touching farce about brotherly love starring Emmy-winner Greg Rikaart, Marc Valera, Jeremy Glazer and Robert Sudduth. 
  • Grandma's Not A Toaster -- A whiskey-guzzling-mother-to-be, Susannah, tries to persuade her neurotic brother Arnie to help her steal their ailing grandmother's fortune. But things get complicated when their degenerate younger brother, Eddie, shows up with intentions of his own. Unfortunately for all of them, Grandma isn't goin' down without a fight.
    Fun Fact: Director Andrew Napier was a producer and assistant director for Curfew, last year's Academy Award-winning short film. 

  • Honeymoon Suite  -- Service is the top priority at this posh boutique hotel in Beijing, China, so when a mysterious American guest wreaks havoc, the new guest service manager must take charge to tame this beastly terror of a man while risking her own life to protect his secret and the hotel's reputation.
  • How to Sharpen Pencils -- A practical and theoretical treatise on the artisanal craft of pencil sharpening. The number one #2 pencil sharpener in the world, David Rees takes viewers through the delicate process of sharpening a pencil by hand.
    Fun Fact: Rees is well-known for his comic Get Your War On as well the web series Codefellas
  • Jody's Bra -- Jody's Bra is a charming, occasionally uncomfortable comedy about a 12-year-old girl and her larger-than-average bra. When Jody's oversized bra is stolen by the popular girls at summer camp and her social life is threatened, Jody must undergo an adventurous recovery mission.
  • Je T'aime -- Johannes is about to move to London with his girlfriend, but realizes he can't go through with it. There is someone else he loves.
    Fun Fact: This is a musical short. 
  • Loveseat -- Joe (Matt Jones, who plays Badger in Breaking Bad) is moving in with his girlfriend, which means having to get rid of his old treasured couch, a symbol of his bachelorhood. When he begins to change his mind about moving in with her, his couch comes alive to show him the real "cushion" in his life.
  • Mr. Invisible -- A lonely disregarded old man seems invisible to the world around him. But when he journeys to the heart of London, being "invisible" proves to be his greatest weapon.
  • Open Spaces -- A shy young Arab American living in New York City, Norman's life is transformed after he meets Kate, his elderly neighbor who hasn't left her apartment since 9/11. As their unlikely friendship grows, Kate encourages Norman to pursue his dream of competing in a TV talent show.
  • Ouverture -- Featuring the virtuoso Pianist Nadejda Vlaeva, this animated short is set to the classical piece "Ouverture" by Johann Sebastian Bach. Ouverture will entice audiences with its nuanced message and a timeless aesthetic.
  • Palimpsest -- A successful house tuner provides clients a unique form of therapy that examines subtle details in their living spaces.
    Fun Fact: Palimpsest is a Sundance Special Jury winner and director Michael Tyburski has been named one of Moviemaker's "25 filmmakers to watch."

 

  • Photobomb -- While on vacation, a photographer takes drastic measures to stop an incessant photobomber from ruining all his pictures.
    Austin Connection: Filmmaker Andrew Olson lives in Austin and is a UT graduate.
  • Pistachio Milk -- On the streets of Dhaka, young urchin Atif courts the beautiful social striver Shonali using only his wits and a bottle of pistachio milk.
    Austin Connection: Filmmaker Avram Dodson used to live in Austin -- he graduated from The University of Texas and his short films Art/Work and Rule No. 2 have screened at SXSW and other festivals. 
  • Record -- A father in mourning struggles to connect with his blind daughter. Amidst her collection of memories he soon learns that the colours of grief and understanding are more vivid when glimpsed through the eyes of the blind.
    Fun Fact/Austin Connection: Record is written and directed by actor David Lyons, who is currently in Austin filming Revolution.
  • Reza Hassani Goes to The Mall -- A recent immigrant journeys to the American cultural mecca that is the mall.
  • The Rider and The Storm -- Timmy Brennan is a New York ironworker who escapes the grind of the city through his true passion, surfing. But when Superstorm Sandy destroys his home in Breezy Point, Timmy loses everything -- including his board. As Timmy digs through the ruins of his home day after day trying to recover lost possessions, he is met with the kindness of strangers and finds solace once again on the ocean.
  • The Root of The Problem -- Set in the candy-colored world of 1950s suburbia, a reluctant young housewife suspects that the friendly neighborhood dentist is hiding a horrible secret. Is it just the anesthesia at work, or is there something more sinister hiding below the surface? Open up and say AHHHHHHHH!
  • Sleepless Cities (World Premiere) -- A young girl seeks revenge for the murder of her father in the midst of an ongoing bloodbath between warring cities.
    Austin Connection: The crew for this film is made up of UT students, and last year writer Zach Endres took home an AFF Audience Award for his student short The Teleported Man

  • StrAngel: The Angel of The Odd -- Edgar, a true bachelor who devoted himself to the compulsive logic of reason and the categorical imperative, not only denies the existence of coincidences and strokes of fate, he also despises those to which the inexplicable happens. True to his motto: "Every man forges his own destiny," Edgar sees bad luck as something of others, if someone experiences it, it is just their own fault. But fate (in the form of truly strange angel) is sending him on an odd path of reformation.
  • Talent Show -- Humor is rife in this bittersweet story about a local talent show. Fay Adams, one time dancing star, now runs the annual talent show at the local community church hall. This year Fay finds things are not going according to her rigorous regime...
  • Tome of The Unknown -- Tome Of The Unknown is an animated short about Wirt and Gregory, who get tired of walking so they borrow a car from a romantic songster made of vegetables.
    Fun Facts: This film was produced by Cartoon Network Studios and stars Elijah Wood as Wirt.
  • Umbrellacorn -- A 2D computer animated short about a unicorn who has an umbrella for a horn.
  • Whether You Like it or Not -- Charlotte Schapin (Marin Miller) has finally found her "Mr. Right" (Matt Lindahl) and won't take no for an answer. The dialogue's fast, the gal's faster, and the relationship progresses at ludicrous speed in this black-and-white, 1940s-inspired musical romp.
  • The Woman in the Dress -- A beautiful, mysterious woman enters the tailor shop of young Wei Li. Compelled, he follows her into a world where love and money collide, where allegiances are not what they seem, and where desire is followed down roads both thrilling and destructive.
  • ZZZZZZZ -- ZZZZZZZ is the story of a couple in love as they sleepwalk through the city at night.

We'll keep you updated as more announcements are made, and you can also follow the AFF blog and #AFF20th on Twitter to keep up with the latest.