Local Shorts

Date: Monday, 10/15/2007
Time: 5:00 pm

Venue: Lincoln Theatre
Tickets: Free

Type: Collection of short films

Metro Weekly Rating: starstarstar (3 out of 5)

by Randy Shulman

YOU WANT TO be nice to these aspiring filmmakers. You want to be supportive and give them a break. After all, they're often working with a budget that makes a Big Bite at 7-11 seem expensive. They are just trying to spread their wings and fly creatively, if only for a short distance.

You want to be encouraging. You want to. But it's tough.

Things start off promisingly with The Preacher and the Poet (starstarstar), which deals with Rev. Willie Wilson's toxic comments from a speech given July 4, 2006. ''It ain't natural,'' Wilson's recorded voice shrieks from the pulpit. ''Anytime somebody gotta slap some grease on your behind to stick somthin' in you, it's something wrong with that!'' Those words, and more, send chills. Director Dean Hamer gets some interesting reactions from local African-American luminaries such as Michael Sainte Andress (''I think he needs a lot of prayer'') and Rayceene Pendarvis (''The Bible says bring everyone in''), but one wishes he went deeper into the community.

Hamer juxtaposes Wilson's bile with the impassioned words of ''spoken word artist'' Kenneth Morrison. There's genuine soulfire in Morrison's delivery, and it replenishes your own soul, particularly after enduring Wilson's demented, homophobic rant.

Like a brain-starved zombie, Brian Tosko Bello returns yet again with Brian the Gnome Slayer 4 (starstar). Last year, it seemed Bello had finally grasped what it took to make a funny, engaging short comedy. Any progress in the ensuing year has gone straight down the crapper. This discombobulated installment of Brian is not just narrative-bereft (par for the course in a Brian film), but fails to unearth even one amusing nugget. Okay, well, one: An alarmed squeal let loose by Bello. More squeals please, Brian, and fewer tedious, self-referential jokes like, ''We're stuck in some poorly written, amateur short film.'' If someone's laughing in the theater, chances are they're related to the filmmaker.

The First Great Lesson I Learned (starstarstar) is an eloquently filmed monologue by an older gay man who recalls a life-changing experience from his childhood. House Guest (star) is an obtusely-related story of a (possibly homophobic) man who learns that his roommate is gay in the dead of night. The filmmakers need to go back to the drawing board and try again.

Talk to Me (starstarstarstar) is the sparkling gem of this collection. Directed by and starring Spencer C. Parker, it's everything you could want from an ''amateur, short film'' -- clever, adventurous, impressively executed and drenched in irony. This four-minute marvel makes the other 36 minutes almost worth sitting through. -- RS

[Editor's note: Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion with some of the local filmmakers and representatives of the Screen Actors' Guild.]



More information

Festival Venue:

Lincoln Theatre
1215 U Street, NW; Washington, DC 20009. (202) 328-6000. (map)
Directly across from Green Line Metro / U Street-Cardozo station.

Tickets:

You may buy your tickets or passes in advance: Online at BoxOfficeTickets.com or by phone at (800) 494-TIXS (494-8497). Or you may visit the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U Street, NW, WDC); the Landmark's E Street Cinema (555 11th Street, NW); or Lambda Rising (1625 Connecticut Avenue, NW, WDC).


For more info visit the official Reel Affirmations website.