Filmfort is the home to many indie film premieres, and film shorts are no exception. On Friday, March 23, the Mixed Shorts block made its way to The Flicks to bring audiences a collection of nine shorts, all diverse in themes, ideas and in this case, questions. Some of these questions came without answers. One short film in particular, titled “Who Decides,” points blankly to its inquiry: who decides whether you live or die? Not long after, “The Accomplice” graces the screen with the kind of dark comedy that makes one wonder whether or not they should feel guilty for laughing.
“Who Decides” features an elderly, religious woman in a hospital bed when a young red-headed girl approaches her, asking her how she knows God exists. From the first line of dialogue, viewers knew the controversy was lying underneath the cinematic elements that grasped the eye of filmgoers. Rather than simply asking one whether or not God is real, the film asks for the evidence. When that isn’t enough, the question then becomes: if God isn’t real, who does decide? Typically, I have struggled to find short films that evoke true meaning and emotion within my brain, but “Who Decides” genuinely made me think about my own existential crisis, challenging the beliefs that I had forever claimed as my own. Throughout the several minutes that the film persists, it was incredibly important to use self-reflection in order to truly process the information on-screen.
In the second short, “American Horror Story” actor Evan Peters is featured in a short film about a man who accidentally becomes the accomplice to a bank robbery gone wrong. A businessman comes home from work to exactly 17 voice messages on the answering machine—each of the messages becoming more frantic and urgent than the last. Jerry, played by John F. Beach, is focused on his friend’s life rather than his own sanity; while this is an admirable quality, it quite literally kills him. One thing that was particularly daunting about this short was its timing in playing at the festival. At the end of the short, Jerry is killed by police after they mistake his telephone for a weapon, and in real news, a man named Stephon Clark was recently killed for the same reason. The difference? Jerry in the film was white, and it felt somewhat like a mockery of a serious current event. That said, the film was produced in 2017, so the screen timing was simply poor, and most likely an unfortunate coincidence.
All in all, these two films were certainly the standouts of the Mixed Shorts block at The Flicks, and they left the audience with new conversation starters upon leaving the theatre. Whether discussions about religion, guns or currently circulating news stories attached to social issues, filmmaking clearly has the power to change mindsets and start the flow of civil discourse in our communities. In this case, Boise was certainly blessed with the opportunity. In order to continue these discussions, we must continue to create art. In the meantime, I believe these two films were a great way to start.