The best thing about Bee Petting -- a one-minute short featuring just that, and nothing else -- is also what works best about the Short Attention Span Environmental Film Festival: This assortment finds its stride when it's just what it says it is. The 2-hour mini-fest plays at Miami Beach Cinemateque Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Short can be sweet, but at times short can feel long. In the spirit of the diminutive festival, which crams 17 shorts into the space of one feature-length movie, the ever attention-span-challenged Riptide herewith offers a mini-review:
The Lost People of Mountain Village: It drags. Overtaken by its own self-estimation, this short feels long at 13 minutes. Is it a satire? Why should I slog through to find what might be a joke in there somewhere?
ALIVE, like Bee Petting, is just that, an extended, arresting fantasia in which a pair of dragonflies are seen oscillating through life. At 3 minutes, it felt too short, which means it's just right.
Chickens in the City : Equally delightful. An artful short-form doc, clocking in at a tight 7 minutes, about chicken lovers that just about made me one too. Bonus points: Watch for the German Shepard.
The 2.5- minute Bees , sung by Dude Dude Chick, is a brilliant little piece of pop perfection, Sesame Street meets Adult Swim. Like many other shorts in the fest, only loosely "environmental," but a great toe-tapper nonetheless.
garpenfargle, a day in the interior life of a bijon frise, was trying even for a dog lover like Riptide.The Last Race is a subtitled doc about a Nepalese tribe, and at a ponderous 22 minutes, it felt like it was the longest of the shorts. (It was, unfortunately.)
The Great Hopkins Rescue tells the little known story of a publicity-seeking stunt pilot, Charles Hopkins, who in October 1941 marooned himself via parachute atop Devil's Tower (the natural monument best known in recent times for its central appearance in Close Encounters of the Third Kind). The rock-climbing expedition that rescued him is re-enacted in this punchy eight-minute doc.
Zakary Zide: Environmental Artist is a pretty, four-minute marriage of photography and music that is cumulative in effect. Grocery Store Wars transfers Star Wars to your local supermarket, in a tale of the the Organic Rebellion's fight against the Dark Side of The Farm. Starring Cuke Skywalker, Obi Wan Cannoli, Tofu D2, Ham Solo and Chewbroccoli, it's a pretty damn clever six minutes.
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Sanitary Fill is a creepy display in which a female subject consumes a bite at a time of processed, packaged foods as they pass by her on a conveyor belt. Diet Coke...beer...American cheese... Graham crackers... The minute-long short quickly becomes an uncomfortable grotesquerie of overconsumption. Nature's Blueprints is about Eugene Tsui, the creator of a fascinating mollusk-like house and a design for a freeway through the Straits of Gibraltar that looks like a spine, part-floating bridge, part-tunnel.
Tracking the Pacific Fisher is an 11-minute look at efforts to conserve habitat for this weird-looking, feral ferret-dog in the West. Bug Girl is one bug flick too many, but the last short, the 10-minute Project InSECT, about a painter of enormous bugs (some canvases are more than 9 feet tall), rounds out the fest with a flourish.