The Long and the Short of It: A Look at HIFF's Short Films

Sophie Linnenbaum, left, the director of "[Out of Fr]ame," and Tara Mercedes Wood, the director of "Things Used to Be Hidden," attended the screening of "Tilt and Shift" short films on Friday. Christine Sampson

A pair of parking garage security guards exchange notes in code, and their seemingly boring overnight shifts are slowly revealed to be filled with surprises. An actress reflects on her auditions, her makeup sessions, her method-acting abilities -- all to play the role of a lifeless body, time and again, in film and television. A man who exists in a form that is mostly invisible to other people joins a support group for those just like him.

These are just examples of film concepts comprising the Tilt and Shift program of shorts at the Hamptons International Film Festival, one of several such programs with various themes being screened over the course of the festival.

In "Things Used to Be Hidden," Tara Mercedes Wood, the filmmaker, delivers a four-minute film featuring what appear to be animated, talking animals giving documentary-style interviews about the fallout from an event that has left them all emotionally vulnerable. The twist at the end, which shall not be disclosed here, is fairly mind-bending. Following the film, Ms. Wood, who is from Germany, said she was inspired by the aesthetic of the 1978 documentary "Gates of Heaven" by Errol Morris, about the pet cemetery business.

"I was really interested in filters and perception," Ms. Wood said.

Perception is another key factor in the 15-minute documentary "What Happened to Her" by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan. Danyi Deats is an actress who plays corpses on screen. Her narrative gets pretty grotesque at times. 

"You have to take yourself to somewhere else," Ms. Deats says in the film.

Indeed, the entire selection of Tilt and Shift films accomplishes that.

"Love" is an abstract, animated tale of a faraway planet that undergoes changes when an atmospheric event causes the planet's life forms to discover one another and interact in new ways. "Berlin Metanoia" is the portrait of a city gone mad when a mysterious black cloud creeps across the sky: A bear causes mayhem after somehow getting loose from the zoo, a young girl unearths pirate's treasure in her sandbox, a man catches a bomb that falls from a World War II-era American warplane that appears in the sky, and more, as tourists take selfies along the way. And "[Out of Fr]ame" features a support group for people who consider themselves "outtakes" in life. Following the screening, Sophie Linnenbaum, the director, said she was inspired by the Alfred Hitchock film "Vertigo," and the characters in hers mirror various psychological conditions such as codependency and attention deficit disorder.

The Tilt and Shift program screens again Saturday at 12:45 p.m. at Southampton Cinema.

Among the short film programs screening during the festival are Get Off My Cloud, a selection of comedic shorts playing Saturday at 9 p.m.; Women Calling the Shots, a program of shorts by female filmmakers, screening Sunday at 3:45 p.m. and Monday at 3 p.m. at the East Hampton Cinema, and Away We Go! Shorts for All Ages, a program of family-friendly films on Monday at noon at East Hampton.

A number of short films are also competing in the documentary and narrative competitions. The narrative shorts competition films will screen Saturday at noon and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the East Hampton Cinema, and the short documentary competition films will screen Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. at East Hampton.