It's About Time

This inaugural Anaheim International Film Festival will give your eyeflaps a workout

Speaking of clever visuals, they are the best thing going for The Lost Thing, a 15-minute animated short and joint Australia/U.K. production directed by Shaun Tan, who wrote the same-titled children’s book, and Andrew Ruhemann, who stumbled upon the book at a children’s fair. It tells the tale of a boy who finds a living contraption of some sort and figures it must belong to someone. But when he tries to find the owner, he is rewarded with societal indifference. We’re all just too damn busy to see kids or whatever the hell they drag behind them.

Another strong 15-minute animated contender from the U.K. is Martin Wallner and Stefan Leuchtenberg’s A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation, which has the added benefit of vocal star power courtesy of actors Joseph Fiennes and Sir Ian McKellen. A moving poem about grieving, A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation finds a young man dealing with his father’s death from cancer. Your Uncle Walt’s cartoon this ain’t. (For one thing, Disney mostly killed off moms.)

From the corner of the documentary world occupied by examinations of spelling bees, crossword puzzles and Scrabble comes San Diego filmmaker Kevin Tostado’s Under the Boardwalk, which explores all things Monopoly. If you really, really, really love the board game, you will really, really, really love this flick. The game’s history, pop-culture significance and worldwide reach gurgle up as Tostado builds up to the 2009 Monopoly world championships in Las Vegas. Zachary Levi of TV’s Chuck narrates. Just one quibble from this corner of the game board: It’s unclear if Tostado means to expose nuts who surround the game as nuts or if he is one of them.

A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation
A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation

Those who gravitate toward goofy-hipster shorts should check out Luke Matheny’s black-and-white valentine God of Love, about a schmuck who croons jazz while hitting bull’s-eyes on dartboards in what has to be the greatest lounge act ever. Thanks to a mysterious gift, he goes from being lovestruck to a love-striker. Slightly Cupid would be a fitting alternative title.

While I can’t actually recommend the following films, they do have interesting set-ups: Baseco Bakal Boys (Children Metal Divers), from first-time Philippine director Ralston Jover, dramatizes impoverished boys who dive into dangerous waters to retrieve scrap metal for cash. American Bully, from Hollywood-via-New York director Dave Rodriguez (Push), is a brutal drama about a gung-ho high-school senior who, before he joins the Marines, takes his hatred of Arabs and immigrants way too far. And visual effects artist-turned-first-time writer/director Tom Phillips’ Sometimes the Moon Is Velvet is a partly animated, mostly live-action short about a fisherman obsessed with an accidental catch.

Visit the AIFF website for show times and other information about the films previewed above and a whole bunch more ready to give your little eyeflaps a workout.

Anaheim International Film Festival at UltraStar Cinemas at GardenWalk, 321 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 399-0300; Opening-night premiere and festivities, Wed. Gala and screenings, $50; screenings only, $10. Festival runs Oct. 14-17, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. General screenings, $5-$10; special screenings, $12; all-day pass, $15-$30. Master classes, workshops and panels, $10-$25 each. Awards presentation in Sequoia Ballroom at Grand Californian Hotel, 1600 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim. Oct. 16, 5 p.m.; VIP World of Color show at California Adventure, $150 (space limited). Closing festivities at GardenWalk (gala, screening, after-party), Oct. 17, 5 p.m. $10-$50; all-access pass, $350.

This article appeared in print as "What Took So Long? An overdue international film festival debuts in the town Walt Disney built."

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