Short Session 7 was seen as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Time for even more Melbourne Documentary Film Festival shorts, because there are so many to get through. Today we look at Short Session 7. So far we’ve had a ton of fantastic shorts, I don’t really see them dropping the ball any time soon.

Until Further Notice (Directed by Tiffany Hsiung) is the story of a small community that formed during the pandemic. See, when the world decided it would be fun to just stop functioning for a few years, Toronto chef Luke Donato was quickly out of a job because restaurants had to close and so he decided to start an online cooking class that’d take place over Zoom. The short consists of segments of these classes (that look fantastic, Luke seems like a great encouraging teacher and his students seem to love him) and interviews with participants who not only explain what the class itself means to them during this difficult time but also just how important it is for them to learn how to cook these recipes. It touches on the pain of the pandemic, on living alone, on the need for community and how we manufactured that feeling of togetherness when an airborne virus made being together an impossibility. The short itself is the most satisfying dish, expertly assembled with love for everyone involved from the finest ingredients. Truly special in every way.

Bundini (Directed by Patrick Green) explores the life of Drew “Bundini” Brown, a name that you might not know right away but you’ve certainly heard one of his famous phrases… “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. Drew was the trainer and hype man for the legendary Muhammad Ali and for the first time, the spotlight is on Bundini’s life and it’s truly fascinating. With narration by Bundini’s son and biographer, this short gives a grand overview of Bundini’s legendary career as he worked for Sugar Ray Leonard before being recommended to help train Muhammad Ali. His story is full of ups and downs, fights with Muhammad, disagreements over religion and so much more. Every second of his life sounds fascinating and is gloriously shown in a beautiful and heartwarming tribute to a man who stood on the edge of the ring and helped one of the greats realise his full potential. The film asks “Who is your Bundini?” and after watching it, I just wonder if anyone could ever live up to the standard that this man set.

Eight Steps (Directed by Masina Taule’alo) tells the story of making it through the Australian education system from the perspective of an autistic child. Not only is this film fantastically made, but it’s a film that proves what a lot of people have been saying… namely that we should be letting those who are not neurodivergent tell their own stories because it’s truly incredible when they do. This film is raw, honest and powerful. It shows just how hard it is getting through the education system when you’re autistic, it’s unafraid to point out the hardships that go with it. Just the pure number of schools Masina had to go through is staggering. Hopefully, this will get some attention and maybe someone can improve things… mostly, I want it to be noticed because it’s a great documentary and should be seen by everyone.

Eight Steps Short Image
Eight Steps (2020)

What About Our Future (Directed by Jaime Leigh Gianopoulos & Claudio Cruz) follows a group of young climate activists in Canada who organised one of those big strikes for climate where a bunch of school kids walked out of school to protest to defend their future. Witnessing the passion that these kids have is powerful, they’re fighting against pretty much everyone in power in order to try and save the planet that they have to live on and their determination to get something done is encouraging as hell. Seeing them prepare rallies, meet with politicians, do their research and spread their message all while trying to complete high school would be powerful enough, but combining it with the heartbreak that comes with seeing the adults (who should know better) denying them a possible future by sucking up to gas companies makes it incredible. With these kids leading the way, hopefully the future looks bright… hopefully, they aren’t too late to save us all.

The FBI’s Secret War (Directed by David Reppond) tells the story of how the FBI infiltrated the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in order to try to disrupt their efforts to put an end to the horrific Vietnam war. By listening to the account of one member of the VVAW, we learn about how the FBI tried its hardest to turn this group of peaceful protestors into a violent mob and how those veterans would have to fight against bogus charges that were designed to stop them before they could achieve their goal of ending the war. This is the short from this session I need to see as a feature-length version, the story told here is compelling and horrific and you just know there’s so much more that we could learn. This is the stuff that spy thrillers are made of and it’s just as compelling and dramatic, except this actually happened.

Deepfake Therapy (Directed by Roshan Nejal) explores the new therapeutic method to deal with grief, Deepfake Therapy. The idea is to use deepfake technology in order to create a recreation of a deceased loved one that the patient can speak with, all under the guidance of a professional grief therapist. The technology used is fascinating, though out of respect for those who passed we never actually see the deepfake in action. The effectiveness of the deepfake isn’t really essential knowledge in this case because the film instead focuses on those who are using this therapy and shows how powerfully it impacts them to have this one final communication with a loved one. Seeing them run through the gamut of emotions is powerful, almost overwhelming at times but somehow it never feels exploitative. It’s showing this new frontier in therapy that could help a lot of people and based on this short, it looks like it has a good chance of doing exactly that.

And that’s all the shorts from this session. Only 3 more sessions to go, what order will I do them in? Who knows, I’m a rebel so I might never do them at all just to be spicy and mix things up! YOU CANNOT TAME ME. can you tell lockdown has made me crazier?

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