Creation and inspiration lay at the heart of Creative Control, a collection of seven varied shorts that reveal the motivation behind life and art as part of the official selection of the Worldwide Short Film Festival.
Bookended by two fabulous pieces, with a pair of universally compelling shorts in between, expression in extremely different forms was on display on the second evening of a festival that is ultimately itself about expression.
The first and perhaps the best piece of the evening, The Maker¸ a six-minute animated tale about a rabbit-esque creature feverishly toiling away in a cellar as an hourglass ominously works in the background, is simply stirring. His big, beady eyes are instantly evocative, and an ever-escalating violin in the background stresses urgency (there is no dialogue, only subtle gesticulations), as our creature-hero works as creating and animating a partner. Instantly gripping, The Maker is among the best shorts yet, with engaging design, music, and story, all achieved so effectively in such a short time. And then the sands of time run out.
At the other end of the night, and the artistic spectrum, is Withering Love, a half hour short from Denmark starring a most talented and versatile French actor in Denis Lavant (see his recent performance in Holy Motors, debuted at Cannes) as an older and isolated writer, Vincent, explaining the evolution of love to a younger, blonde bystander. Love can blossom instantly, the writer explains, only for it to start to fade, as your love he insists, will begin to forget you piece by piece. Vincent’s sad story leads him to an inevitable end, and he attempts to commit suicide, an effort undone by the woman’s determination. As he recovers, her curiosity remains piqued, and despite his insistence on being left alone, she presses on.
Driven by two great performances, Withering Love describes the cyclical and often inevitable nature of love, whereas when one love leaves, another is there to take their place, and it’s up to the user whether the ups and downs make it worthwhile.
Two other notable films from the collection are Gravity of Center and Daytripper, a pair of North American entries about two forms of art overlooked elsewhere in the shorts. In Gravity, a Canadian short, the RUBBERBANDance troup dazzles, as the quintet perform together and alone across a dreary hill expanse and a deserted warehouse, with each person and setting telling its own dramatic story.
Conversely, Daytripper offers laughter, mostly, with just a bit of self-discovery thrown in for good measure. From the U.S., this short tells of Stan, a loquacious and self-deprecating mechanic who takes up the lost art of chatting on the bus. At work his job is mundane, and at home he quietly longs for his attractive house maid, but on the bus he charms and entertains with anecdotes, queries, and an excellent Woody Allen impersonation. While the meaning is simple, as Stan slowly starts to realize that he can be comfortable and confident outside of the bus, the performance is sincere and the jokes are genuinely funny.
A comedian, a writer, a quintet of dancers, and one very focused worker make up the best of the creative shorts: their meaning is simple, but the end result is never necessarily the goal, it’s the process and how you get there that really matters.