February is the shortest month of the year, after all

Get ready for a treat. The Northwest Film Center’s early February films span all genres.

Get ready for a treat. The Northwest Film Center’s early February films span all genres. Between the clever cartoons, magnificent shorts and unbelievable documentaries, you’re bound to find a morsel of cinematic joy that fits all your entertainment needs (and they just keep getting better and better!).

“Peepi Live,” originally presented by the Sundance Film Festival, is a dramedy about two farmers in rural India and their fiscal struggles. The poor Natha and Budhia cannot make ends meet when they find themselves in terrible debt. Considering the government’s program to assist the families of farmers who have died, Natha contemplates the possibility of suicide to pull his poor family out of their misery. Directors Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui create a satire that does not fall short on asking important philosophical questions about the nature of sacrifice. (3 out of 5 stars)

“The Gruffalo,” directed by Max Lang and Jakob Schuh, may be a familiar title. It is based on the well-known children’s book.  At 27 minutes long, Lang and Schuh’s piece has just enough time to bring the classic tale to life. The film centers on a heroic mouse whose journey leads him to three different predators. His wits prevail as he tells each predator about the Gruffalo, a menacing creature who is just scary enough for children and just hilarious enough for adults. Upon hearing the threat of the Gruffalo, the predators flee, leaving the smart mouse to his peace. Lang and Schuh, in one way or another, succeed in creating an all-ages masterpiece that is sure to invoke wisdom in all viewers. If you enjoyed any Dr. Seuss film or “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Gruffalo” will be 27 minutes well spent. (3.5 out of 5 stars)

“Silence Beneath the Bark” is an animation fan’s must-see. The short follows two friends as they embark on a winter wonderland adventure. Not only is the animation a joy—Director Joanna Lurie makes soft simple lines work in fluid, serene action—but the overall artistic value of the film is unsurpassed. The composition, color choice and artificial lighting are so well executed that each frame is like an independent painting. (4 out of 5 stars)

“Let’s Pollute” is a lighthearted look at a very serious topic. Director Geefwee Boedoe takes viewers on a child’s crayon-drawing animation adventure. The simplicity of the art coupled with its serious message illuminates the blatant truth of civilization’s consequences. A bird flies freely and happily in one scene. In the next, when it encounters a cloud of smog, its eyes immediately X out. Although comical, the shot is also disturbing. This simple, candid look at the repercussions of the consumerist culture brings with it a sense of immediacy and a call for action, which is why its appeal spans to all audience demographics. Perhaps this simple reminder is the best method. (4 out of 5 stars)

“The Lipsett Diaries” chronicles the diary of Arthur Lipsett, a revolutionary Canadian filmmaker. Perhaps the most impressive of the shorts shown at the Northwest Film Center for the beginning of this month, “The Lipsett Diaries” truly offers a profound performance. The animation is wonderful—that alone is enough to see the film. Each frame expresses days and days of effort and love. The impressionistic style is appropriately chilling, with regards to the storyline that leads up Lipsett’s eventual suicide. A gut-wrenching film, “The Lipsett Diaries” by director Theodore Ushev captures all of life’s emotions into 14 minutes. (4 out of 5 stars)