The next offering from Phoenix’s No Festival Required film series isn’t one movie, it’s nine little movies. “The Rural Route Film Festival Touring Program: Short Films and Animations” is a compilation of the best shorts from the New York-based fest, which features non-urban subjects from around the world, often focusing on environmental issues.
If this sounds like a depressing or guilt-inducing prospect, don’t despair. It’s a surprisingly lively, engaging collection, often distressing but non-didactic and free of scolding (e.g. it’s your fault we’re watching sad polar bears floating away on melting ice). The selections are highly diverse in style and tone, and yet there’s a recurrence of themes and images between them that gives the show unity. Two of the shorts, for instance, involve the mining industry’s use of ill-fated canaries, Jesse Kreitzer’s Iowa-filmed early-20th century period mining drama Black Canaries and Marie Schlingmann’s disturbing, ambiguous thriller Canary.