Film note: Shorts, but sweet

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One of the most enjoyable movie watching experiences each year is when the five Oscar-nominated short films are screened back-to-back. Watching these shorts is a miniature lesson on the latest trends in filmmaking. Often these films—especially the animated ones—are geared to children. The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival has programmed Time for Shorts specifically with children in mind. The six short films in the program add up to a total of 70 minutes and run a gamut of topics and styles.

Time for Shorts is screening as part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival on April 26 at St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis. For information and tickets ($9), see mspfilmfest.org.


The two first films—very short animated pieces that total 10 minutes—recall the style and entertainment value of the Wallace and Gromit films. “Carrot of the Theatre” is a fun claymation about a rabbit who covets a snowman’s carrot-nose, resulting in a hilarious incident inside a theater. The second claymation, “Miriam and the Flood,” isn’t as witty or slick, but the visual offerings will be enough to hold any 5-year-old in wonderment.

To rate and comment on Time for Shorts and every other film in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, see tcdailyplanet.net/filmfest.

“Cookies for Sale” is a short (and, at 4 minutes, very tight) film that takes a comical look regarding the business of selling Girl Scout Cookies—and just how determined some pint-sized salespeople can be. Kids will get a kick out of the battle of wits between a neighbor who doesn’t want to buy any cookies and the young girl who won’t take no for an answer. Similarly, “Free Parking” tells another story regarding control, but this time in the form of two siblings playing a game of Monopoly. This film was by far my least favorite—perhaps it was the 70’s setting in which it took place, but for me it had a didactic feel that would be more at home on an episode of Sesame Street.

The other two films, “Baluba Runa” (from Norway) and “Moonman”(from Germany), are the longest in the set, running 17 and 29 minutes respectively—so attention spans might be tested a bit more, especially by “Baluba Runa.” The film has no animation or special effects, and its story is by far the most sophisticated. It is my personal favorite out of the 6 short films. It tells the story of eight-year-old Runa and her excitement for an upcoming visit by the Prime Minister. “Moonman” features dazzling effects as it retells the story of Tomi Ungerer’s classic picture book. The man living on the moon comes to earth, only to realize it’s not the place he wants to be. While I wasn’t a fan of how the character is portrayed on screen (the sounds and grunts were just too similar to E.T.), the film will hold children’s interest with its dreamlike sequences.

All told, Time For Shorts is a great selection for families to enjoy during the festival.

Stephen Sporer works at Macalester College in St. Paul and has reviewed films for KTFM, San Antonio’s most popular radio station. He recently moved to the Twin Cities from New York, where he studied theater at Sarah Lawrence College as well as acting and singing at a wide range of venues.

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