Each week the folks at Cinema Circus show a series of short films on Wednesday evenings at the Chilmark Community Center. The films begin at 6 p.m. but at 5 p.m. the circus — complete with jugglers, face painters, stilt walkers, food and music — gets underway.
An advanced screening of the films is arranged with a young Island cineaste, plucked from the target audience. In a world with few certainties, the kid critic is the critic to trust. Unfettered by economics, societal pressure, perhaps even good taste, the kid critics have no agenda. They have no filters nor is there any chance of hyperbolic windblowing designed to get everyone to see the movie. In fact, fewer people showing up might mean more popcorn for these young reviewers.
This week’s program of short films is titled Working Hard, and the short films included are reviewed here by kid critic Ralph Bologna
The Music Box (Dir. Jennifer and Nicholas Oxley / U.S.A. / 2009 / 3 min.)
This is a live-action movie about a little girl whose music box is stuck, planning out a chain reaction to open it. Some of the things she uses are dominoes, a ball, a toy robot and books. It looks like it would be impossible to make in real life, but the movie makes it look like the little girl is really building it herself and it really works! At the end, the music changes from background music to the sound of the music box. It surprised me because it was very short. I give this movie four stars out of five.
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (Dir. Pete List / U.S.A / 2011 / 11 min.)
This animated movie is about Wilbur, a naked mole rat, an animal with no fur, who likes to get dressed up. The other naked mole rats don’t like to get dressed and they think that Wilbur is gross and weird for wanting to wear clothes. This is funny because it is the opposite of real life, where humans don’t like people to be naked in public. The other naked mole rats ask Grand Pah, the oldest, nakedest mole rat what he thinks about Wilbur and his clothes. What Grand Pah does might surprise you! I really enjoyed this movie and give it five stars.
The Henhouse (Dir. Elena Pomares / U.K. / 2010 / 7 min.)
This is more like a grown-up story and has no dialogue. It is an animated movie about a fox who wants to eat at a restaurant called The Henhouse. But when one of the workers quits and throws his apron away the fox puts it on. The boss sees him and thinks he wants a job. So the fox works at The Henhouse but has trouble dealing with the customers. He harasses a baby by eating its food and a hair from his fake moustache falls in the drink of a lady with a little dog. The end is a little weird and sad at the same time. He realizes he is lucky to have a job. I give it four stars.
Katie Loves the Kittens (Dir. Karen Villarreal/ U.S.A. / 2011 / 9 min.)
This animated movie is about a dog named Katie who loves her owner’s new kittens, but she gets a little too excited and chases them all around every time she sees them. One morning she sees the kittens’ food bowls but she doesn’t know it is cat food and thinks the food is hers. Katie is funny when she is trying to control herself but I don’t like this movie that much because it is more of a younger kids’ movie. It is a little bit boring and repeats itself. The one thing I did like was the scene where Katie looks through the windows into the room where the kittens are sleeping and there is a tree branch near her head. She looks just like the dog in the The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, when he has the branch tied on his head. I give it two stars out of five. If you have a little sister or brother, they will probably like this one.
Josué and the Cassava Stalk (Dir. Diogo Viegas / Brazil / 2009 / 13 min.)
This is an animated Brazilian version of Jack and the Beanstalk. The story is basically the same except instead of beans that grow into a beanstalk Josué trades his donkey for a type of root called cassava, that Brazilians like to eat, and it grows into a huge cassava plant after his mother throws the root in the well.Josué finds a giant at the top of the stalk, just like Jack. I liked when the giant falls off the stalk and then they show the gr aveyard with lots of little crosses and the giant’s grave with a huge cross. In the original story, Jack gets rich from a goose that lays golden eggs. In this movie, it’s really hard for the goose to lay the eggs, so instead Jack gets rich selling the cassava root, with the goose’s help. The characters’ eyes made me laugh. Josué and some of the others had big square black eyes andJosué blinked funny when he was surprised or thinking. Sometimes there was a funny sound effect when he blinked. I also liked the Brazilian music in this movie. I give it four stars out of five.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Dir. Pete List / U.S.A. / 2009 / 7 min.)
This was my favorite movie out of all of them. It is about a pigeon who wants to drive a bus but the driver warns the audience not to let the pigeon drive it. The pigeon keeps asking the audience if he can drive the bus but they keep saying no. You can join in shouting “No!” if you want. At first the pigeon is patient, but then he’s not. The pigeon gets very frustrated and tries to make a bargain. I really liked the sound effects when the pigeon shouts “Let me drive the bus!” and it echoes. The animation is funny because you can only see one of the pigeon’s eyes at a time. I also like the book that this movie is based on. I give it five stars out of five.
After the children’s films, there will be a screening at 8 p.m. of The Last Mountain, a documentary about the devastating effects of mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley. The film illustrates the way residents and activists are standing up to the industry that is so deeply embedded in the region. Forces are aligning to preserve the region’s precious natural resources. Is wind power the answer? With strong support from Bobby Kennedy Jr., a central figure in the film, awareness is rising in the battle over Appalachian mountaintop mining; both Mr. Kennedy and the film director, Bill Haney, will attend the screening and afterwards discuss the making of the movie and participate in a question and answer session.
Tickets are available at tmvff.org or 508-645-9599 or at the Chilmark Community Center starting at 4:30 p.m. on the day of the show. Admission is $14, or $7 for members of the festival (you can join at the door).