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clip May 2010: District 9 and the short-film frenzy

May 11, 2010

Short films haven’t always gotten much love. Filler at the cinema before the real movie, back in the day. Or what Bravo screens between it’s real, imported U.S. TV shows. Or what they bundle together for one massive compilation of shorts at film festivals. Within the profession, they were sometimes seen or pitched as a kind of video business card or CV, an “I did this!”

District 9 has helped open a new door. Shorts, according to this recent L.A. Times story on the trend, are the new black in the film industry. To quote the story’s passage on Alive in Joburg:

“Several years ago, no one had heard of the modest nine-minute science-fiction film or its rookie director, Neill Blomkamp. But under the tutelage of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, the short was honed and chiseled into District 9. The rest is film lore. Backed by the muscle of a studio marketing campaign, the film became one of the biggest hits of last summer, an Oscar nominee for best picture and one of the best-received films of 2009.”

Now, a good short – good as defined by hits on YouTube and how many times it’s relayed from one studio exec’s iPhone to another’s – is gold. And gold is being paid.

Here, for this month’s edition of 11th ave’s clip film feature, are a couple of films for your viewing pleasure and so you can brag to  your friends at Oscar time, “Oh the short? I saw it ages ago.”

First is the seed of District 9, Alive in Joburg, followed by the shorts mentioned in the L.A.T. article: Ricardo De Montreuil’s fugitive thriller The Raven, then the scary Mama (which I, unfortunately, couldn’t embed) by Barbara and Andres Muschietti, followed by the very War of the Worlds-ish short on which Sam Raimi has staked a claim, Fede Alvarez’s Panic Attack.

Click here to watch Barbara and Andres Muschietti’s Mama.

– Denise Duguay

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