Los Angeles Jewish Film Fest 2016 presented an evening of five extraordinary shorts, each profound in their own way. “The Setup,” a story of a blind date gone awry. At first, the young man, a seemingly perennial bachelor on the quest to find the perfect soulmate, yet unforeseen circumstances such as a subway delay cause him to run in top speed to get to the date. Finally he meets the date, his ideal bashert, as they discuss Thoreau on the same intellectual wavelength, and click immediately with instant chemistry, only to find out this is not the actual date arranged to meet. As hilarity and twists of fate ensue, one learns we “don’t always get what we want,” and it’s hard “to love the one you’re with.” The filmmaker (Leah Gottfried) played one of the dates. This hilarious conceit is the pilot episode for a You Tube series, “Soon By You.”
Josef Et Aimee is set in World War II in Nazi controlled Europe. Aimee dreams of a friend and in her imagination Josef appears. This animated story amidst the horror of the Holocaust brings these two ill fated orphans together trying to connect. Tragically Josef stands in a field trying to cocoon from a caterpillar to a free butterfly, as he is ordered onto a truck. Aimee longs for him but whimsically, all that is left are birds flying around her, as his beloved sketchbook falls from his backpack, with pictures and poems avowing his forever love for her. Freedom at best is a tenuous event. She smiles as her fantasy world of butterflies seems to save her from devastating loss.
All These Voices takes place in the shell of a bombed out building. A wounded Nazi soldier finds himself amongst a theatrical troupe setting up camp in this building. A play is created all about Holocaust survivors, when a stirring noise reveals the hidden, lost soldier. He becomes involved in the play, and empowered, as he soul searches and discovers his own survival, with the telling “I Saw,” in a shriek, rekindling a kinship and bond, reinforcing the memories of the survivors themselves.
Return to Rivne is the story of two Polish women. One woman announces the passport is the only memory of her father; the rest of the town was destroyed. These 2 were lucky, as a righteous Gentile farmer and his wife hid them in a barn amidst rats and pests. They can hear the horror outside but only glimpse through a small window. Nazi monsters cause a ruckus all around them, as their world deteriorates. The farmer tells them they must leave abruptly, as their whereabouts were reported so they run into the forest, encountering a whole new set of elements to brave. They survive to tell their miraculous tale, and in 1949 come to America and reunite with their mother and father, even more incredulous. The two women go back to Rivne to see full circle where their story began and to seek closure.
The Little Dictator tells the story of a henpecked professor and his controlling wife. We see him in everyday life, i.e. errands, shopping, teaching, even washing dishes, by day; but by night, his imagination runs wild. He seems beleaguered with the tasks of the ordinary, yet like Walter Mitty, has a fantastical imagination which saves the day. When he goes to a party pre shabbat and doesn’t have time to complete his shave, in order to see his 90 year old mother in law, an uncanny scene takes command, as he imitates all dictators, and ends with a darling Charlie Chaplin impersonation.