SF&FFF's Beatgirl kicked my ass and I liked it
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SF&FFF's Beatgirl kicked my ass and I liked it
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

I love Beatgirl. I don't know if I want her or if I want to be her.

Beatgirl was just one of the 20 short films screened February 7 during the 4th Annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival (SF&FFF) at the CineramaTheater sponsored by SIFF and EMP/SFM.

The films were a mixed bag, but an amazingly fun mixed bag. Short science fiction and fantasy (short story or short film) is a tough go. Conventional wisdom says genre such as these require space to create other worlds - time that just isn't available in a short format. I think it can work and I think it's easier to do with film, but it's no easy task. That's why, I believe, the SF&FFF is a mixed bag. However, even the lesser flicks are fun to watch.

There are some good films here and I've decided, in the spirit of the awards season, to hand out the first annual Scotty Awards. The Scotty Awards are specific to the 2009 SF&FFF and in no way reflect anything other than my personal opinion about this fun little group of short films.

Best Makeup: Eel Girl
This film is good, old-fashioned, creepy fun. They say there's somebody out there for everyone, and this mad scientist has found his somebody. Except for her webbing and dental peculiarities, she's really just the girl next door. Who wouldn't fall in love, even if you can't take her home to meet the parents?

Best Cinematography: Notes from the Acrid Plain
Haunting and creepy with a pleasant retro look, Notes from the Acrid Plain is full-on apocalyptic horror film gone right. It's a tad too long, but the claustrophobic sets and muted colors are perfectly photographed by William Evans.

Art Direction: Scion
I couldn't tell you what this thing was about, but it was nice to look at. I wanted to turn the sound down and just enjoy the visuals like I'm always tempted to do with Tarkovski films. The pallet is mostly blues and greens with surprising composition that never feels intrusive which isn't all that surprising since there's not much of a story to intrude on.

Best Acting by a Water Hose: Hose
The title character is great. Who knew a hose could be so emotive, so sensitive, and so damn funny? You will want to coil him up, throw him over your shoulder, and take him home to water your garden. The story is also fun, the animation rocks, and there's even a good villain.

Best Ending: The Heist
This flick is a one-trick pony, but a good one-trick pony. The special effects are nicely done and the length is right. From three-headed cats (look quick) to unfortunate nudity, the beginning and middle get passing marks. But it's the brilliant ending that makes this one special.

Best SF&FFF Film from Montana: The Communicators
Yeah, yeah, it's the only entrant from Montana, which means this award is faint praise at best. And that's about right, as saying it was made in Montana is its best attribute.

The Why Doesn't Your Camera Move Award (tie): The Communicators & Tiny Spaceship
It's 2009, kids. I made my steady-cam with two pieces of pipe and a lead weight for 12 bucks. I know you can move that camera. Stationary cameras are why watching movies made before 1920 is so claustrophobic. Free the camera, please; set the camera free.

Most Tortured Metaphor: Fade
This Aussie film should have been about four minutes long and it would have been thought-provoking without being tedious. I do dig the egalitarian listing of the crew in alphabetical order without any specific job titles. So, to the crew that apparently directs by consensus, I get it. I promise, I get it.

Best Acting: Outsource
This is great short film. It looks expensive and its world is drawn so believably and the story is so engrossing that I totally bought the premise. And in all this goodness the actors never get lost. Nice job.

Best Sound and Best Film with a Dumb Name: Things Last
Aside from the aforementioned name, this movie is awesome. The sound is professional, textured, and perfect. The sets are finely crafted and complex. The CGI is seamless and compliments the story without becoming the story. The costumes, the art direction, the acting, the story: check, check, check, check. Congrats to Constant van Hoeven, Susanne Bakker, and Jitte Hockstra on a solid film and one very cool robot with asymmetrical eyes.

Best of the Fest: Beatgirl
You must see Beatgirl. There are a number of great films in the group, but this is the one you'll talk about on the way home. Beatgirl is hot. From her bodacious tits to her firm ass, you are going to fall in love. I'm not sure if I want her to take the mask off or not, and I'm sure not going to ask. Beatgirl is tough and smart and, oh baby, can she move. It's worth the price of admission all by itself.

Contact the critic at scott@sgn.org.