Short Focus: OWA 2014

The festival is just a few days away, and we’re all excited for you to see the films at the inaugural Other Worlds Austin.  Programming a festival, you get to see so many amazing movies, and you want to tell everyone about it.  It seems like lots of people are talking about the features, so we wanted to make you didn’t miss a few of our favorite shorts playing the fest!


Jordan Brown,
Programmer and Director of Submissions


Do as I say, not as I do.  Dave learns the hard way when his robot apprentice, Al, surpasses him in ways he doesn’t expect.  In explaining to logical-minded Al what is expected in human interaction, Dave must also acknowledge the fact that humans don’t always say or do what they really should.  How do you explain this to a robot when you can’t even answer the question for yourself?  This short effectively and painfully explores what would happen if we could only stop our damn human hang-ups from getting in the way of our relationships.  Check it out on Thursday, December 4th in Shorts Program 1: Dystopian Visions.


The age-old question of the sci-fi genre: just because you are able to do something, should you?  Scientific advancement is a lonely and divisive frontier.  You get a sense of where this story is heading before it gets there, but the decision the protagonists face is no less devastating.  Ethics debates abound in this 20-minute short, and it’s sure to invite plenty of arguments (or, you know, rational discussion).  Not to mention, it has probably my favorite ending of all the shorts screening this year.  See it for yourself in Shorts Program 3: On To Tomorrow, playing Saturday, December 6th.


Bears Fonte,
Founder and Director of Programming


SciFi is not afraid to get a little campy, and this flick is fab, flirty, and fleshy fun.  It’s an Ed Wood – Barbarella mashup that follows the invasion of Earth by the seven sexy Goddesses of Merkabatron, bringing their message of love to a post-apocalyptic world.  The film has amazing production design, considering it was shot and edited in 8 days and is possibly the sleaziest thing we are playing... which is my way of saying it can’t be missed.  See it before Space Milkshake Friday, December 6th.


Talk about high production value!  I really hope this ten minute short ends up being the opening scene in a potential feature because it sets up a really interesting premise, a sort of Blade Runner from the android’s perspective (unless you believe that’s called Blade Runner).  I can’t wait to see the crime spree that follows. The CG on this is phenomenal for a short, and the actors are fantastic, with a very nuanced performance from our robot ‘Clyde’ and his ‘Bonnie’ girl next door.   


Courtney Hazlett,
Programmer and Hospitality Director


Fast-paced and action-packed, this short presents the relationship between two roommates when it comes to the last sweet treat in the house. Roommates appropriately merges comedic elements with over-the-top battle scenes as we see these two men epically fight over this pastry. Everything about this film works wonderfully together from the music to the effects. The only question is: who will end up with the donut?  Check it out Friday December 5th before Bloody Knuckles.

Martian American

If there is one film at this year's festival to truly tug at your heartstrings, Martian American would fit the bill hands down. Dressed as a stereotypical tourist, a Martian travels to Los Angeles to become an American. He desires to start a new life yet he faces many struggles along his journey from culture shock to insecurity. Overall, this film is delightfully unique and wonderfully told.  See it December 5th in Shorts Program 2 – Passage to the Unknown.


Kelsey Hockmuller,
Programmer and Social Media Director 

One Last Question

Quick and dirty, One Last Question is a fun thrilling look at time travel as a way to cheat the system. One Last Question gives a dire situation a sense of fun, as actor Hal Schneider's desperate face slowly morphs into a smug grin. He only needs to ask one last question, and one last question, and just another one last question... Check it out in our Friday, Dec 5 in Shorts Program 2.


Space drama Vimana takes a look at one oft-forgotten aspect of interplanetary travel: how does one reconcile religion with a new reality? As two Indian astronauts try to deal with the death of their captain on a one-way voyage away from Earth and home, their heart-breaking dilemma pulls Vimana away from being a run-of-the-mill space drama. Though the visual effects of space are gorgeous, what really sells the film are the performances, as Ravi Kapoor and Hina Khan struggle to win each other over to their own frames of mind. See it Saturday, Dec 6 in Shorts Program 3.


Reid Lansford,
Programmer and Registration Director


Never before has a post apocalyptic landscape seemed as barren and foreboding as it does in Gasmask. Beautifully shot in muted grays, the drab imagery serves only to heighten the tension and mystery within the films seemingly empty world. The story may seem familiar- a drifter wondering the countryside, his face hidden beneath the titular mask, comes across an isolated family and cautiously accepts their offer of food and shelter. The pleasant facades on both sides quickly vanish, and what happens next is by turns shocking, gruesome, and darkly funny. While most films in this sub genre are usually content to be mindless action thrillers, Gasmask focuses on its characters and their ever shifting moral compass, a tool that appears necessary to survive in their world. Gasmask is that best kind of film- one where you're never quite sure where it's going next. Check it out Thursday December 4th in our Shorts Program 1: Dystopian Visions.


The big question behind all SciFi is always "What if?" That simple phrase precedes questions both big and small, and always brings with it a series of consequences. Recoil, which will play before our feature presentation of The Phoenix Project, is a mind bending short that asks that question on multiple levels. One decision springs forth a ripple effect of possibilities and consequences, some positive and some negative. Faced with the ambiguity of the unknown, one astronaut is forced to weigh these choices when presented with a life changing possibility. Even with a widely imaginative scope and impressive special effects, Recoil is a very human story that asks what one person would risk to save someone they cared about.  See it Saturday, December 6th at 10:30 before The Phoenix Project.


Dan Repp,
Programmer and Events Coordinator


I have watched a ton of shorts in the last few years and it feels like a majority of them go the serious route.  I’m not saying that having a serious tone is a bad thing, but it is refreshing when a short comes along with a lighter tone and faster pacing.  Gear was that short for me. It was really fun to watch.  It does feel like it is a piece of something bigger and that it was made to get backing to make a feature but it still successfully tells a story.  The plot follows a young girl fighting to help her robot friend in a futuristic world.  The CG character in this short is amazing.  Rarely do I see CG done so well in shorts.  I would highly recommend checking out Gear and I hope they find funding to turn this into a feature.  See it Thursday, December 4th in Shorts Program 1 – Dystopian Vision.

The Developer

The Developer has a serious tone, a seriously batshit crazy tone.  What I loved about this short is that it has qualities of an experimental film, but it still has a very interesting story.  It follows an Oracle named Lens and takes place sometime in the distant future in Budapest .  He is hired to find out who stole important documents from the government.  This is another short that uses CG very well.  The CG builds a beautifully dark and gritty future Budapest.  This short really draws the audience into its world and that is really hard to do within the short runtime.  The Developer is both creepy and gorgeous.  I enjoyed the world they created and the storyline that develops the character very well.  Check it out in Shorts Program 1 – Dystopian Visions.