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Review: “BRAT” by Charli XCX
Published June 12, 2024

Local filmmakers channel Wes Anderson’s charm in short film contest

The winning films are to be shown before the Main Cinema’s showing of “Asteroid City.”
The+film+was+released+last+weekend%2C+but+still+an+entertaining+movie+to+see.
Image by Graphic by Mary Ellen Ritter
The film was released last weekend, but still an entertaining movie to see.

In response to the release of a new Wes Anderson film, the Minneapolis Film Society held a short film competition sparked by the visual storytelling of Anderson, held from June 7 to 16 at the Main Cinema.

Three winners were chosen after filmmakers submitted 90-second videos in Anderson’s directorial style. The winners will have their films screened at the Main before Anderson’s much-anticipated film, “Asteroid City.”

The competition drew from a flood of entries from all around the Twin Cities. Participants accepted the challenge of recreating Anderson’s distinct style which is distinguished by meticulously framed shots, vibrant colors and symmetrical compositions. 

“All of the videos submitted had an incredible amount of thought and detail put into them,” said Kendall Murphy, the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Minneapolis Film Society.

Tristan Crawford, director of “The Spare Companion” (one of the winning shorts) has written and directed his own short films for years now. He made “The Spare Companion” with cinematographer Eric Reimer who he met during their studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. 

“With Wes Anderson films there are ‘rules’ to try to follow, like certain close ups, certain wide shots and of course symmetry,” Crawford said. “I think the story was another thing I wanted to keep in mind while writing this. Keeping the narrator dry but the story almost wholesome and whimsical.”

“Asteroid City” is a film set in a post-WWII New Mexico town, with a population of 87. It features a star-studded cast playing the inhabitants of the town including Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston and many more. 

Anderson uses a televised production of a play (also titled “Asteroid City”) to tell a story within the story. 

On one hand, there is the drama behind the scenes between the cast and crew of the television show. These events are shot in black and white, and a 4:3 ratio frame typically found when shooting with 35 millimeter film. 

On the other hand, there is the story within the story, following the characters of “Asteroid City.” These are depicted in widescreen with the rich color palette found in many Anderson films. 

With symmetrical shots and meticulously placed sets, each frame is carefully composed. The level of attention to detail is astounding, with even the smallest items and background details serving to enhance the plot and draw viewers into the movie’s world.

“Asteroid City” is full of Anderson’s deadpan, dry humor which left the audience laughing throughout the entire film. It is a lovely fusion of artistic brilliance, moving storytelling and quirky wit. 

The film features themes of romance, death, family and aliens. It shows how people come together during confusing times and how a community can build off one another. Anderson does not reinvent the wheel of his directing style, but as a fan of his work, he did not need to.

If you enjoy his distinctive cinematic approach, this film is a must-watch. And, if you catch it at the Main Cinema, you can also see the winning submissions of their contest before the showing of the film.

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