Are you, like me, a short-attention-spanned nerd? Then settle your mercurial gaze on this collection of queer short films with a science fiction twist, available to watch as a part of this year's Seattle Queer Film Festival.
Let's jump into the line-up of "Plugged In: Sci-Fi Shorts"...
Trashy Booty features two trans women struggling with finances and unhealthy relationships who happen upon a robot made of trash. The slice-of-life short follows them from a dumpster-dive gone wrong to a hostile roommate to a realization that their lives need a change—it’s a fine first act for a story that unfortunately cuts to credits just as things are getting interesting.
Bliss is Orange shows us an alternate near-future where everyone has chips implanted in their wrists that change color when your soulmate is near. In this cute little one-scene story, a nervous barista finds her chip flashing at an unexpected moment, and that the concept of “soulmates” may be more complicated than she thought, and that it might be better not to know.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt as uncomfortable as I did while watching Jeff Drives You, which I actually mean in a good way??? Somehow??? This is another very small near-future story; in this one, a lonely man takes a ride in a self-driving car with a very convincing artificial intelligence. The human and the car bond—hey, remember that movie Her?—and then the relationship gets weird. This is a story in which emotional vulnerability is commodified and punished, which left me feeling rather sad, but that a short film could produce so strong a reaction means it’s doing something right.
A doomsday short called Shelf Life is a slow burn—so slow I’m not sure if it actually ever caught. A delivery driver drops off packages to blithely laid-back customers who don’t seem to care that the world is clearly about to end. How do people comport themselves when the end of humanity is night? Apparently with a lot of dispassionate small talk and placid profundity while barely moving. This may be the mumbliest mumblecore I’ve ever seen, which I am certain some people will enjoy.
In Dissonance, a partygoer wanders into a warehouse where dreams are recorded on video, displaying strange images on monitors strewn throughout an environment that manages to impressively capture the vibe of the 1990s. Allowing his own dreams to be recorded, our protagonist descends into a strange mental art film, and that’s basically where we leave it. Okay.
The world has also ended in The Last Queen on Earth, in which a farmer awakens on January 1, 2000, to discover everyone around him dead. The millennium bug seems to have killed everyone but him, and while he’s burying what seem like every dead body on Earth, he finds himself drawn to the apparel on some of them. Before long, he resumes his farming career in a way that looks very different from how he presented previously. A wordless portrait of self-discovery, the story bounces along from one gory surprise to the next with a fun pace, an excellent soundtrack, and an energizing conclusion.
The Irish film In Orbit is modest and quiet and slow, a pensive love story recalled from the distant future. It’s more of a visual poem than a narrative, beautifully filmed, orchestrated, and performed, a tribute to how simple it is to fall in love, and how complicated that fall can be the longer it lasts. Tender, compassionate, and quite serene, I’ll probably remember this short better than all the others.
The suggested viewing time for "Plugged In: Sci-Fi Shorts" is Friday, October 23 at 9 PM. That said, all of the films this year are available to watch from October 15-25, 2020, once you click on the link you have 72 hours to watch the film.