Arts Desk

D.C. Shorts, Showcase 11: Giant Mutant Chickens and Gérard Depardieu!

Short reviews of films from this year's DC Shorts Film Festival

A decadent platter of genre offerings from all over the globe, Showcase 11 is a mostly entertaining but somewhat morose collection. Though these showcases don't tend to have a discernible theme (apart from the family-themed showcases), it’s worth noting that three of the films are all centered on a death, and that two of those are focused on grieving widows.

However, there’s a surprising amount of sentimentality here, and plenty of humor—particularly in Special Delivery and Murgi Keno Mutant (Attack of the Killer Mutant Chickens—to help lighten the mood.

Grenouille D’hiver (Winter Frog): Though Gérard Depardieu’s last notable performance may have been a self-righteous urination on an international flight, this depressing yet charming melodrama finds the celebrated actor as a winemaker mourning the recent death of his wife. Lonely and heartbroken, Depardieu flirts with thoughts of suicide until a young Asian tourist eagerly arrives at his vineyard for a visit. Stunning cinematography and (naturally) stellar acting highlight this French film.

Chores: In this eerie, dialogueless piece, a farmer is plagued by visions of his dead wife. Though as the night goes on, it becomes clear that something more sinister is happening and he must face the spirit lurking within his house.

Lady Razorbacks: This micro-documentary follows a team of Pacific Islander female rugby players in a sketchy East Palo Alto neighborhood. Though faced with many daily hardships within their communit—including a shooting on the field during their first practice— each woman profiled finds salvation in different ways through the sport. Shot in standard black and white, the doc is fascinating but its barely four-minute run time makes it feel incomplete.

Le Nid (The Nest): Well-shot but somewhat lacking French comedy about an actor who loses his cool when he finds out he’ll be completely bald in less than five years.

Mirror Image: In this sharply edited, amusing short, a man confronts the kind of ennui you can never truly escape from—yourself.

Murgi Keno Mutant (Attack of the Killer Mutant Chickens): In the not-too-distant future, the end of days won’t be from disease or zombies, but rather giant mutant chickens. This outrageous Bangladeshi short follows a team of kung-fu-fighting chefs as they hunt bloodthirsty chickens to keep their restaurant afloat. Come for the mid-'90s Japanese-style animation, stay for the giant mutant chicken sex scene.

Special Delivery: A mailman panics when he accidentally drops his cigarette in a resident’s mail slot. He frantically bangs on the door to alert the owners, but no one’s home. As the cigarette slowly burns through the mail, starting a small fire, he deploys the only, um, tool he can think of to put it out.

Behind the Mirrors: In this taut Peruvian thriller, a couple who works at a skeevy motel panics when they find the dead, naked body of a popular news anchor in one of the rooms. Though as it turns out, nothing is quite as it seems once the police arrive.

Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at E Street Cinema

Monday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at E Street Cinema

Saturday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center

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