Short films rarely get the love they deserve: there’s no theatrical exhibition outlet for projects that don’t make feature-length running time, so many shorts languish on cable channels like Sundance or IFC and are talked about exclusively around Academy Awards time. Festivals like the sixth-annual HollyShorts provide, then, an essential opportunity for filmmakers and audiences alike. HollyShorts compiles programs featuring a dozen or so short films per night between opening night (August 5) and closing night (August 12), all of which are 30 minutes or less. Screenings will be held this year at the Laemmle Sunset 5 (aside from the opening night celebration, which will take place at the Directors’ Guild of America).
This year’s festival features around 90 short selections, up from the 23 screened at the festival’s inaugural 2005 run. There are some big names involved, too, as well as an indication of how popular 3-D is becoming. Here are some highlights…
1. Dick Van Dyke stars in The Caretaker 3D: Van Dyke stars as the magical caretaker of the Hollywood sign in this 1930s-set 3-D short that screened earlier this year at the Malibu Film Festival. Van Dyke’s character lives behind the “L” in the sign, and is based on real-life caretaker Albert Gothe, who lived in a cabin near the sign and changed the sign’s 4,000 bulbs when needed (though the lights were permanently removed in 1939). The Caretaker 3D screens August 5 at 8 p.m.
2. The music-video bloc: The music video, once an important and highly visible short format, is now in danger of disappearing altogether, now that MTV has officially dropped the “music television” from its logo and VH1 is more interested in Celebrity Fit Club. Even better? HollyShorts has compiled some amazing videos from artists that VH1 or MTV probably wouldn’t be interested in playing anyway. Selections from Bowerbirds, Florence and the Machine, Joshua Radin and Kid Cudi are among the videos screening on Monday, August 9 at 8 p.m.
3. David Arquette-directed 3-D short film to open festival: Yes, you read that correctly. Arquette directed The Butler’s In Love, which will be the first 3-D short to screen at a Hollywood short-film festival. Thomas Jane, Elizabeth Berkley and Arquette himself star in this short which screens August 5 as part of a bloc of films beginning at 8 p.m.
4. Kirsten Dunst directs Bastard: The talented (but apparently troubled) Dunst hasn’t popped up in much lately, so it’s delightful to read that the actress has directed this film starring The Hurt Locker‘s Brian Geraghty. Bastard screens August 7 at 8:30 p.m.
5. James Franco’s Herbert White: Franco’s a prolific shorts director (and delightful soap star) these days. He recently had The Feast of Stephen screen at Outfest, and now has the 14-minute Herbert White screening at the Laemmle Sunset 5. Michael Shannon stars as the film’s titular family-man-by-day, serial-killer-by-night. Herbert White screens at 10 p.m. on August 8.
For tickets to HollyShorts, visit the festival’s website.