Harlem's low budget aerospace program, the intrigue of low-budget filmmaking, and the cold-blooded murder of John Stamos provide the highlights in this imaginative collection of shorts. As with any assemblage of shorts, some are stronger than others, but the good easily outway the bad in the first set of American shorts at the ciff.The top three: Old Negro Space Program is a parody of Ken Burns' documentary on urban black history. nasa is whites-only, the times being different back in 1957, so a group of African-Americans decide to form nassa, the Negro-American Society of Space Astronauts. Despite low budgets and rampant racism, they manage to make their way to the moon, only to have "the man" bury their accomplishments. Terrible Photoshops and repetitive jokes somehow make this one utterly worth seeing. Find it online at www.negrospaceprogram.com.
The Climactic Death of Dark Ninja is "a film about making a film about ninjas." The cast is a bunch of young action film enthusiasts doing their best to make the ultimate action short. Just because the hero only knows one martial arts move and the extras are so few the same one has to die at least seven times, it doesn't discourage them in the least. Watch for a mannequin in the star-making role of Dark Ninja himself.
I Am Stamos features everyone's favourite sexy Uncle Jesse, the man who willingly divorced Rebecca Romjin, Principal Scudworth's Clone High nemesis, John Stamos himself. Through a birthday wish gone awry, whenever character actor Andy Shrub is photographed, the resulting image is of Stamos. A slick producer uses this mock-Stamos in a low-brow sitcom, ruining the real Stamos' career. Colourful, well directed and consistently funny, I Am Stamos easily ranks among the best of the shorts at this year's fest.
A couple of the shorts are merely competent, but altogether this first collection of American shorts provides a glimpse at some potentially great filmmakers. Proof there is still vitality left in the American film community.