Washington, D.C., is home to many film festivals throughout the year, but the DC Shorts Film Festival is one of the most talked about and admired. In its 11th year, the short film festival has proven that all it takes is a couple of minutes to make an impression, whether it be a romantic drama, quirky comedy, sci-fi thriller or a powerful documentary.
The 10-day festival, which begins tomorrow and runs through Sept. 21, is the largest festival of its kind on the East Coast, featuring more than 135 films from 25 countries, ranging from two to 30 minutes in length and covering multiple genres. The main breakdown of the festival is 17 90-minute showcases screening up to nine films on various dates and locations, including Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, E Street Cinema and the United States Navy Memorial in D.C.
Certain films this year have Jewish themes and many others are directed by Jewish filmmakers, both local, national and international.
New to the festival this year is Alexandria resident Elliot Blumberg, a film editor for the local documentary He’s a Fighter. A seven-minute collaboration between him and three other filmmakers, the movie focuses on Antoine Douglas, a Southeast D.C. native who was born prematurely to a drug-addicted mother. The film follows his introduction to boxing and how he became successful at the sport, while graduating high school at the top of his class.
“He was just an inspirational character,” Blumberg said of Douglas. “I think everyone likes an underdog, someone who can look in the face of adversity and overcome it.”
Also in the festival is Israeli director Yoav Hornung, whose crowd-funded drama Deserted is his second short film to be featured. Presented in Hebrew with English subtitles, the film follows two female Israel Defense Forces soldiers as they complete their final assignment as officer candidates in an unforgiving desert terrain, when one suddenly realizes she’s lost her rifle and is determined to retrieve it before time runs out.
Hornung, a former IDF officer, was informed by his own training stories as he led the four-day shoot in the Israeli desert near the Dead Sea.
“I was very curious about making a film about a character lost in nature,” Hornung said. “I wanted to deal with general values, and show how low you will go in order to retrieve something. The film has to do with morality, humanity and decision making.”
While many actors in the films are unknown, you’ll probably recognize the star of first-time director Michael Slavens’ comedy What Cheer? Jewish actor Richard Kind (Spin City, Mad About You) stars as a recent widower who is constantly followed and tormented by an overzealous marching band – which only he can see – as he struggles to overcome the death of his wife.
“When people have gone through loss, they can really relate to the story,” Slavens said. “It’s cathartic in a way to be able to laugh and enjoy a silly representation of that grief, but in a way I hope is honest and truthful.”
Other films by notable Jewish directors include Lindsey Sitz’s Fondly, Maggie, a five-minute short that highlights the wit and wisdom of an 89-year-old Leisure World resident and Nicolas Weinfeld’s Run To Live, a documentary about a man who takes to running after developing a rare illness.
To view a full schedule, learn about special events and screenings, and for access to an online festival of more than 100 films, go to dcshorts.com.