Short films have long been the first step into filmmaking for most directors, and getting those films into festivals has always been an important component of that step. This has changed somewhat in the YouTube era, but there’s still a lot to be said for the curation aspect of festivals. In terms of pure variety of content, you can’t beat the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films, now celebrating its 13th anniversary — as is YouTube, for whatever that’s worth. Modestly describing itself as being about “grabbing someone by the eyeballs and making them think, feel, and react,” the festival features shorts from 25 countries divided into six programs.
A highlight from the USA is Mark Knight’s Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing), a six-minute simulation of a walk through various sylvan glades, which in Japan is considered a form of relaxation. Far less relaxing is Raško Miljkovic’s Kris, a Serbian film — though not A Serbian Film, thankfully — in which the lone survivor of the apocalypse searches for food and shelter while being guided by the voice of a woman whom he calls, you guessed it, Kris. And fresh from winning third prize at the Cinéfondation competition at Cannes is Lucia Bulgheroni’s Inanimate, about a young woman who begins to question the nature of her stop-motion reality.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.