By Kareem Sheikh
Learning doesn’t have to mean a thick textbook or a standardized exam. Since the beginning of modern language, we’ve been sharing information through stories, and with the advent of film, those stories became much clearer. Now, these brilliant filmmakers need only a few minutes of your time to open up your mind, and if you’re wise, you’ll let them.
Here are five short films at VIFF—fictional and nonfictional—that will teach you something new about the world:
1. American Psychosis
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and activist Chris Hedges discusses modern-day consumerism, totalitarian corporate power and living in a culture dominated by pervasive illusion. An incredibly succinct analysis of society on the edge of collapse from the writer of War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists, this is an illuminating and frightening view of the possible future in these trumped-up times.
2. The Tesla World Light
As one of the most prolific inventors and scientific minds of his generation, Nikola Tesla has been largely undersung outside of scientific circles. Moreover, many people are unaware of his relationship with his benefactor, the eponymous JP Morgan. Set in 1905, this short will ensure that the name Tesla lives on as more than just a fancy car.
3. Batriachan’s Ballad
A bizarre story of everyday life in Portugal becomes a warning about the xenophobia that threatens the populace. This fable might not be a bedtime story for kids, but adults around the world could learn a thing or two.
4. Voices of Kidnapping
For two decades, a Colombian radio station has invited families to transmit messages they hope will reach their kidnapped loved ones in the Amazon jungle. A peek into an invisible, violent world that you won’t see on the news.
Screens in Left to Their Own Devices program
5. The Crying Conch
Regardless of how much we think we know about the West Indian slave trade, the individual stories that survived that mass cultural erasure are spellbinding. For this short, the life of an 18th-century Haitian slave rebellion leader will inspire you to reconsider your perceptions of brutality—and resilience.
For information and tickets to all of the short programs at the festival this year click here.