Tag Archives: Mike Stoltz


I’m a bit old to dance the “Slam”, but I still like to keep tabs on what the young people are up to. Please join me as I dive headlong into the short-form cyberspace transmissions of SlamDance 2021. (The festival’s entire slate, shorts and features can be watched online through February 25 for a $10 pass, $5 for students).  Some films may be online, in whole or in part, in other online venues; we’ve sprinkled in the occasional link or trailer.

For those who may be overwhelmed by my thoroughness, I can quickly (and highly) recommend the following for a 1/2-hour-or-so of programming: Opera (for awe), Passage (for weird), and The Danger in Front (for fun).


Letters from Your Far Off Country (dir. Suneil Sanzgiri; 18 min.)—It is doubtlessly mere coincidence that I watched this so soon after Hitler: a Film from Germany, but their parallel structure, and even general message, sync up uncannily. This movie explores “how history moves through us, and how we move through it”; and it asks, “What is one’s claim to the past?” It concludes “How we connect, how we comprehend, is up to us.” With a combination of contemporary news footage, 8mm-style home movies, song snippets, recorded speeches, and even what appears to be a Zoom conversation, Letters primarily addresses the Kashmir uprising in 1989, though the urgency of recent events is never far in the background. A thoughtful, moving video document, which I’m guessing will be banned by the local authorities.

Morning Sickness in the USA (dir. Cristine Brache; 3 min.)—Brache’s recorded phone conversation with her mother plays over a series of alternately odd and alarming images of pregnant women undergoing various observations. The mother’s anecdote about how she was sent to a mental institution for two weeks because doctors were unable to diagnose her strange nausea (“morning sickness”, as the title indicates) is amusingly related. The unsettling  photo-video undercurrent… less so.

Passage (dir. Ann Oren; 13 min.)—An androgynous foley artist sonically morphs into the horse for which they’re creating effects, and grows a handsome tail. I can’t help but think of Berberian Sound Studio brought to its (il)logical conclusion. Passage examines obsession through observation, but also illustrates the importance of sound design for the art of illusion. After clomping softly into the “Passage” theater, our protagonist views the fruits of their labor before disappearing. What begins with human feet ends with a horse’s eye.

Rumi and his Roses (dir. Navid Sinaki; 5 min.)—Navid Sinaki tells the story of his first boyfriend using the unlikely medium of DVD menu Continue reading SLAMDANCE 2021: THE BIG SHORTS COMPENDIUM