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NHFF short films: Short on time, big on delivery

Friday’s last short block of the day was a rollercoaster of films. From a drama to a thriller, to a comedy – the hour and a ten minute block left viewers winded, relieved and genuinely entertained.

The block opened with Operation Barn Owl. The film rotates around Ellen as she floats through the surprise proposal her childhood friend, Jonah has planned for his girlfriend Ashley. Director Satsuki Okawa commented on how important it was to her to capture the emotions that Ellen was battling as she helped Jonah while simultaneously pining for him.

Dog Food was a jolt in a different direction, inviting us into the world of a young butcher and his beloved dog, Ralphie. A love interest, played by Amanda Seyfried, could not deter from the consistent hate mail and a lurking male figure that the viewer’s mind turned straight to upon the disappearance of his dog. The title of the film leaves you filling in the pieces when he is invited to dinner at the home of the young woman and her roommate brother – the ominous figure throughout the film. When they imply after dinner, that they had fed him one of his own animals, he loses it – but we snap to silence and hear the dog whimpering, safe in the bathroom. With blood on his hands, he feeds Ralphie and the audience erupted in applause.

Welcome Chinatown, a comedy out of Canada. Precious Chong is a quarter Chinese, a statement that invokes unique responses from all of those around her. In the midst of a divorce, Precious is endearing and honest as she tries to connect with a part of herself that she feels she has lost.

Alatoni, a 4-minute film from New Hampshire, is over as quickly as it begins. A husband deals with his unfaithful wife in the only way he knows how. As his wife is tied up in a chair crying, he takes his own life, graphically cutting himself in front of her.

Goudreault explained that the premise of the film came from many conversations had with friends who had been hurt by a loved one. Goudreault wanted to convey, in a purposefully extreme fashion, an outward expression of grief equivalent to the pain felt within. The slicing of his wrist is explicit, grotesque and painfully realistic.

An audience member asked the question we all were wondering, “What was that?”

The answer was decidedly less stomach-churning than the scene.

“Ham,” said director Christopher Goudreault, who expressed his excitement at NH Film Festival being his first ever film festival.

He explained that the visual scene was one of the most difficult scenes to film, but that he simply used store-bought ham from his local grocer – proving that it is truly incredible what you can do with everyday things right in your backyard.

Finally, the block concluded with 216 Mois, an innovative drama from France. Maureen, a ventriloquist is famous for her act – but her act, her son Charles that she has been carrying for 18 years is desperate to be born. The imaginary and insightful drama ends with the inevitable but leaves viewers with a profound sense of relief.

As you plan your schedule out for this weekend’s screenings, be sure to check out the short blocks. The short films can be as complex and ardent as a feature. You don’t want to miss them.

Check out this year’s NHFF picks on the Festival Schedule for more details on what shorts you can catch tomorrow at the Moffatt-Ladd House. Still need tickets? Head over to the Box Office.

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