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SHORT SUBJECTS: “Short films mean you don’t...

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John Clark is a frequent contributor to Calendar

SHORT SUBJECTS: “Short films mean you don’t have to sell as much blood.” “Short films rarely have bad sequels.” “Short films are hardly ever played at the mall.”

These and other truisms about short films are being bandied about at Sundance this year, though not by festival flacks. They are the work of the editors of Short Cinema Journal, a video magazine on DVD (Digital Video Disc) that is being shopped on monitors at kiosks along Main Street--as if there weren’t enough noise and confusion on Main Street. According to its makers, the “magazine” will feature short fiction, documentaries, criticism, monologues, interviews, animation and more on a 5-inch disc that you can plug into a computer or a TV--assuming you have a DVD player.

“We’re creating a magazine like Vanity Fair,” says Executive Editor Christie Kelley. “Only there’s no reading involved.”

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Perfect for the festival crowd. Perfect for festival filmmakers, who often see their works disappear once the festival is over. Now they’ll have a venue that comes out once a month, sells for $19.95 ($84 for a year’s subscription) and can be had at newsstands, video stores, museums, film festivals and theaters.

“We’re being swamped with videotapes,” says acquisitions editor Holly Willis.

As with any magazine, this one is still evolving. They haven’t figured out where they’ll draw the line when it comes to sex and violence, although Kelley insists that “we ain’t going to do pornography.” On the other hand, anything by Quentin Tarantino will surely be welcome. And they’ve already contacted such indie icons as the Coen brothers and Spike Lee. Have they responded?

“No,” says Kelley confidently, sounding like a festival organizer. “But they will.”

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PEOPLE WATCHING: One of the interesting things about Park City is that everyone looks you in the eye. No, it’s not that they’re friendly. It’s that they think you might be Somebody. Of course, once they’ve determined you’re not, it’s on to the next person. It’s like a giant industry restaurant.

There’s no getting away from it, even at the local Albertsons, which somehow has Dungeness crabs. Filmmakers, agents, publicists and the press wander the aisles clinging to their cell phones, glad-handing, gossiping. They don’t seem to buy very much. At the checkout stand, they make the rest of us wait while they make one more phone call.

The festival seems to fuel anxiety and aggression. An Albertsons clerk says he’s seen fistfights break out between customers jumping the checkout stand line. Outside the Yarrow Hotel, two PIBs (persons in black, as the local press has it) were screaming at each other about how a hard-working colleague should be treated. Apparently, nobody was listening.

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