Short is the new tall

The “Sacrifice and Redemption” shorts program at the NW FilmCenter offers enough cutting commentary on views towards race,religion, sexuality and morality to keep any budding sociologisthappy. Shilpa Sonthankar’s “Biography of an American Hostess,”which explores the quiet and insidious forms of racism experiencedby the hostess of an Indian restaurant, should have them discussingover their gin and tonics long into the night. During the moreabstract pieces, they can simply nod their heads and whisperknowingly to one another about such and such allusion to Marxisttheory.

Meanwhile, the artists/filmmakers in the audience will be happyto dissect every image and angle, teasing out the meaning fromshorts like Rob Tyler’s “Salad Shooter,” in which the same saidkitchen implement mangles a lovely pile of fresh vegetables forover three minutes. How does it connect to the theme? Well, thinkabout anything long enough…

Short film aficionados will certainly marvel at the craft ofthese energetic filmmakers, praising the love and skill they haveput into their work, as well they should. So much care and time hasbeen given to the acting and production of shorts like Dylan AikoSmith’s “Man Feel Pain,” that as you watch the Christ-figurenailing himself to his apartment wall, you almost feel guilty fornot watching it at say, the Sundance Festival where it shouldrightfully be screened.

Those simply looking for a night of entertainment will certainlynot be disappointed either, as there’s enough thrills, drama andeye candy in the program to rival any Saturday night at the localmultiplex. For instance, Chel White’s short “Magda,” a gorgeoustale about a contortionist and a fateful accident, proves thatstop-motion animation can still put all of Disney’s computers toshame in just five minutes. Take that, you bitch-assed mouse.

The only criticism about the “Sacrifice and Redemption” shortsprogram is that it may offer too much diversity and breadth ofvision. You may find yourself still dwelling on a previous filmwhile trying to enjoy the current piece being presented in anentirely different medium. The small sacrifice for a program suchas this one is that you must toss linear thinking out the windowfor a little over an hour. However, the redemption comes in beingexposed to a wealth of talent rarely seen.