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Sometimes Smaller is Better: The 17th Annual LA Shorts Fest

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The Missing Scarf - Teaser from Eoin Duffy on Vimeo.

Good things come in small packages. Or in the case of the latest film festival in town—short packages. LAist attended the opening night of the 17th annual Los Angeles International Short Film Festival at the Laemmle NoHo7 on Thursday night with a program that included a wide-ranging program with comedy, animation, drama and documentary—and a few onscreen surprises.Opening the festival was “Across Grace Alley,” directed by Ralph Macchio and starring his Dancing with the Stars partner Karina Smirnoff and Oscar nominee Marsha Mason. The sweetly sentimental film focused on a boy at his grandmother’s house, his parents’ divorce and a woman dancer who lives across the alley.

It was followed by Douglas Sloan’s documentary “Eddie Adams: Saigon’ 68” about the photographer Adams, who took the infamous image of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing Vietcong assassin Nguyen Van Lem on a Saigon street. The powerful doc reveals the backstory and context to that shot—making it a more complex image than originally thought. Adams himself said, "photographs do lie."

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Other surprises throughout the night included a turn by Sir Ian McKellen as a magician in “The Egg Trick” by director Stephen Kroto. (We felt bad for Kroto who seemed utterly devastated during the Q&A that someone had sent an earlier cut of the film to the festival and not the final, but either way, it was still McKellen on the big screen.) Katherine Ross, best remembered as Elaine from The Graduate, played a stand-in grandmother of a shy boy living in the same apartment complex in “Wini + George” by director Benjamin Monie. Rutger Hauer played the lead in Stuart Gillies “Turn,” about a man who decides to change his life.

TONIGHT I STRIKE from Dan Gaud on Vimeo.

The audience favorites seemed to be Eoin Duffy’s semi-nihilistic animation “The Missing Scarf” (narrated by George Takei) and the revenge sci-fi / action drama "Tonight I Strike" by Dan Gaud. There was something for everyone during the opening slate of the LA Shorts Fest, which continues through Thursday (Sept. 12). There are 280 films screened throughout the festival’s 44 programs, which have been divvied into genres: adventure, animation, comedy, documentary, drama, horror and sci-fi- or themes like love, family, friendship, conflict, suspense, religion and art. Since the festival is accredited by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts), winners in seven competitive categories automatically become eligible for Oscar consideration.

If you want to see a screening of the festival winners, the closing night’s award ceremony will take place at the NoHo7 at 10 pm on Sept. 12, followed by a closing night reception at Pitfire Pizza across the street. Tickets for the awards night and screening are $30. Otherwise, general program screening tickets are $12.