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SXSW 2014—Day 3: Cumbres (Heights); Shorts
Rafe Beckley in 'Notes on Blindness: Rainfall'

Cumbres, directed by Gabriel Nuncio

Short Films:

  • Notes on Blindness: Rainfall, directed by James Spinney and Peter Middleton
  • Yearbook, directed by Bernardo Britto
  • The Alligator, directed by Alexandra Barsky
  • The Video Dating Tape of Desmondo Ray, Aged 33 and ¾., directed by Steve Baker
  • Chocolate Heart, directed by Harrison Atkins
  • Verbatim, Brett Weiner

Road trips are a staple of small budget films. They aren't hard to do well, but they are hard to make distinctive. In Cumbres, Miwi is woken up in the middle of the night and told she must leave town with her sister Juliana. Neither she nor we are told why they must go, but deep down we know. Deep down, so does Miwi.

During the film's first half, I thought more than once about Thelma & Louise, another pair who are forced to take to the road more for what is done to them than through any fault of their own. Miwi and Juliana are actual sisters, younger than Thelma or Louise, and Mexican. For all those differences, they share a world-weariness with their Hollywood relations. There's not a road long enough to take them to a place where they can get away from men who get away with too much. People help them along the way, but most of them have little to begin with and, hence, can offer little to them.

The film doesn't end with a shoot-out or a defiant jump off a cliff. The sisters are refugees more than they are bandits, and the film's most poignant observation is that even if escape is possible, we carry our past with us to wherever we go to run from it.

Besides a week or so before the Academy-Awards when nominated shorts might get a brief run for the curious, short films rarely garner the attention of the average viewer. But they are, or can ...

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SXSW 2014—Day 3: Cumbres (Heights); Shorts
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