Small Is Beautiful

With a single tongue-in-cheek image — a naked, tattooed couple sharing an oversized pair of boxers — the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films poster has achieved what so many programmers and curators have attempted over the years: making short movies sexy. Once the skin pulls you in, though, crafty SF Shorts founder and director James Kenney has a lot more up his short-sleeve than titillation. Eschewing the subgenre of gimmicky, one-joke short-shorts, he’s packed six meaty programs with fully realized miniature dramas and documentaries. “Program 1: Flights of Fancy” (screening Sept. 9 and 12), for example, proffers a poignant collection of relationship sagas highlighted by local filmmakers Robert Arnold and Cynthia Mitchell's disarmingly casual and piercingly tender All Animals. The sun-dappled vignette of a conflicted husband and his deaf daughter on a California backroad captures the aching ambivalence and hard choices of postdream America. For rendezvous with more salacious outcomes — remember the poster art — check out “Program 4: Hello, My Name Is (),” which promise films of “love, lust, and sex” (Sept. 11). Just keep in mind that the typical SF Shorts film runs more than 10 minutes, well beyond the average duration of coitus per a 2001 study.
Sept. 9-12, 2009

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