DC Shorts tackles “Technology Addiction”: Top films are “Rated”, “Video”, and “Get the F__K out of Paris”

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Monday night, September 12, 2016, DC Shorts held one of its “Tackling the Issues” film sets, “Technology Addiction”.  It was shown at Landmark E Street cinema in one of the larger auditoriums, about half full.   In the QA the comment was offered that some films are not online yet because other festivals will not accept them if they can be found online (although DC Shorts will, and has an online festival).

The longest film was “Modern Love”, set in Montreal (bur in English) by director Nicolas Beachemin (20 min), with QA.   A blond, already furrowed 28-year-old connects with a young woman with a blind dating app.   Over time, various circumstances hinder their meeting (like her dropping her not life-proofed phone in soapy water).  But sometimes your love is closer to you geographically than you think.

The best film of the night is one of the next two.

Rated”, by John Forston (QA), 19 minutes,a delicious satire,  presents a typical San Fernando Valley family (played by Forston’s own wife and kids) where one morning every adult has a “YRLP” rating floating in the ether above their head, visible to all.  John’s wife got only 2-1/2 stars and finds herself discriminated against as a parent at a school meeting and the by a local restaurant, which will admit only those with 4-star ratings or more.   In the QA, Forston says he was inspired to make the film by the fact that Uber lets drivers rate consumers (as does Airbnb,  I think), which means that some consumers could find themselves cut out of the markets even as customers.  It’s obvious to draw a parallel in this film to past racial segregation.  But the idea could extend to excluding people from “life” for “cosmetic” reasons, like overweight, or having too much or too little body hair, or even something like “B.O.”.  The film could also be viewed as an extension of the idea of “online reputation”, which affects small businesses even more than people because of user reviews.

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Video”, by Randy Yang, appears to be shot in Washington DC, perhaps near Logan Circle.  A white woman, and young lawyer, berates a homeless black man selling stuff on the street.  (Actually, he really wasn’t panhandling.) Two young black women videotape her and threaten to post it on YouTube immediately (using the “Capture” app).  The threat that the video could go viral would threaten the white woman’s chance to make partner in the firm.  The two women try to blackmail her to get the video deleted.  There ensues some conversations about how white people perceive black people, especially women, visually.

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So Good the See You” annoys me as a greeting in social happy hours, and here it is a comedy (10 min) by Duke Merriman on not so radical hospitality.  A couple from Manhattan visits old friend Zoe at a party in Westchester, perhaps Scarsdale.  An overheard cell phone call ruins everything, leading to a confrontation reminding me of Roman Polanski’s “Carnage”, although the vomiting was kept off camera.

Get the F__k out of Paris”, by Greg Emetaz, presents a “Survival Mom’s” idea of impending apocalypse.  Doing laundry in a ritzy area near the Seine, a young woman gets a text message from a friend in the CIA that at midnight, every cell phone in Paris is going to explode.  What really happens at midnight?  The film has some structural concepts like the short story “The Ocelot the Way He Is” in my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book. (treatment ).  The film also fortuitously (if accidentally) capitalizes on Samsung’s flammable Galaxy battery recall (WSJ story).

Syrah”, by Mike Holt (4 minutes) is a comic version of Siri, with a slightly middle Eastern flavor, albeit in the Bronx.  One of the characters looks like “Jaws” from the Hames Bond movies.

Life Smartphone” by Chenglin Xie, 3 min, China, animated, speculated what happens if everyone simply lives inside their own smartphones.  The animation resembles Danganronpa somewhat.

Still pictures: Volunteer activity at AATP “Meal Pack” Monday on Mall, and “Donald Trump”.

(Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 10:30 AM EDT)