Film festivals abound in our bailiwick, so going for short is a sensible solution. It worked for the 30-minutes-or-less Poppy Jasper Film Festival in faraway Morgan Hill, for instance. You can't argue with the essence of the short-and-to-the-point film; it's hard to go wrong in 10 minutes.
Short-attention-span cinema is highlighted in the Petaluma Film Alliance's 2012 Film Fest Petaluma. Heavy on animation and drama, light on documentary, there are 28 films in three separate programs.
Where to begin? Bobby Young's handsome and locally made "The Squash" is a story of a poor farmer who begins mysteriously receiving cash inside his vegetables, serving as a parable for our times about the perils of taking the fast money in farming.
Well known is the Oscar-winning "Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," a painstakingly animated, Louisiana-made tale that combines The Wizard of Oz with Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. Superior film shorts are on show from Canada, Australia and France. "The Maker" follows a chimerical hare made of cloth and flared human teeth who toils away on a mysterious something. In "Nullarbor," an old geezer challenges a young hotshot to a drag race in the tractless desert. And "Dik," by the Australian TV actor Christopher Stollery, concerns a child caught making an age-inappropriate drawing.
The French films highlight creeping angst, with titles like "Moi" and "Personne" ("no one"); one called "Angel Dust" could be billed "Just when you thought it was safe to hide in your bed . . ." "Planet Z" by Momoko Seto is for those who enjoy observing the progress in their compost heaps (mine's far more compelling than many a Hollywood release). Seto uses microphotography to catch the sci-fi quality of the slow speed and up-close angles of vegetable decomposition. Those who dislike cauliflower, for example, can watch as that cruciferous vegetable finally gets what's coming to it.
Film Fest Petaluma runs Saturday, May 5, at the Mystic Theatre. 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Three programs at 2:30pm, 7:30pm and midnight. $10–$15; all-day pass $25. For full schedule, see www.petalumafilmalliance.org.