The Short Films of Big Ugly Review

Susan Gerhard November 16, 2007

Big Ugly Review is, actually a literary “review,” but “big” and “ugly,” I’m happy to say, it’s not. A small and popular online publication put out by a staff of volunteers, it regularly includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, as well as downloadable music, photo essays, and, more recently, short films. Bay Area editor Elizabeth Bernstein is herself at work on two films — collaborating with director Kia Simon on a story about a little girl with a parasitic Guinea worm called “Alice,” ( and a psychological thriller called “Tinderbox.” What makes each issue of Big Ugly so, yes, precious and beautiful is how each issue’s theme works its way through every artery and vein of the journal. This time around the theme is “Fight or Flight,” so if you have adrenaline to spare…they’re taking film submissions of five minutes or less through Dec. 1. (Guidelines at We thought we’d take this Friday’s list opportunity to link you to Big Ugly’s four fairly amazing short films to date.

1. Kia Simon’s “The Dive” goes underwater to reimagine a strangely beautiful death by skydiving. (Simon won Best Short Doc at SXSW for “Looking for Sly,” about an Armenian Rambo impersonator trying to meet Sylvester Stallone.)

2. Amy Harrison’s “The Keep” builds a haunting, horrifying story from a very creepy location, a wispy Annie Sprinkle voiceover narrative, and the vortex where Geiger counters meet wind tunnels.

3. Lev’s “Conversation” is an animated romantic tragicomedy with dead-on writing and imaginatively simple drawing that manages to make its bitter sweetness very very funny. (Lev is the creator of the ultra low-budget comic/animation series “Tales Of Mere Existence,” viewable in a self-published comic book that is sold with a DVD of the movies, at Lev’s website,

3. Scott Prendergast’s “Happy Birthday” feels a touch Jonathan Caouette with a very special, first personal birthday wish from a mommie dearest.

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