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Sundance Film Festival: “Dear Mr. Shakespeare,” “Kaiju Bukraku” gems in Shorts Program 2
Jan 21, 2017 | 4979 views | 1 1 comments | 532 532 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A still from "Dear Mr. Shakespeare." 
Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
A still from "Dear Mr. Shakespeare." Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Not rated

Directed by Zuxiang Zhao, Rosa Salazar, Shola Amoo, Lizzy Sanford, Andre Santos, Marco Leao, Lucas Leyva, Jillian Mayer, and Luci Schroder

Grade (for the collection as a whole): Two stars

The festival’s shorts programs are like those boxes of assorted flavor chocolates. Some you’re going to love, some you’ll find interesting, and some you’ll wish you hadn’t bitten into.

There’s some from every category in Shorts Program 2, which has the normal mix of hits and misses. The sensibilities and ratings of the seven films all vary wildly, which provides an interesting if sometimes scattered mix of narrative experiences.

The best of the set is “Dear Mr. Shakespeare,” a powerful spoken-word piece exploring the intersection of racism and Shakespeare’s “Othello.” It’s performance art in the best way, combining arresting visual images and words that both flow like poetry and have the ring of truth. It’s only six minutes long, but it’s the most powerful six minutes in the entire collection.

Almost as fascinating, however, is “Kaiju Bunraku.” Japanese puppetry imagines a husband and wife living in a world where Godzilla’s monsters ravage through the countryside every day, but instead of humor the short tips into surprisingly psychologically profound territory. I never thought a show that name-checked Mothra would make me think about what it means to have control over your own life, but Kaiju Bunraku pulled it off.

“GOOD CRAZY” is an entertaining journey through one woman’s strange afternoon, but the plot is too vague even for the short form. When the audience can’t figure out a key plot point until they see a character’s name in the credits, you’re not doing a good enough job. “Pedro” and “Kao Shi (A Test)” were both melancholy but quietly moving.

Further down on the scale was “Rubber Heart,” which depicts a painfully awkward one-night stand with a healthy dose of honesty. Still, it takes too much time to say too little. “Slapper” evokes some of the same hopelessness, though in a far deeper and more pervasive way, and though the short includes far more plot than “Rubber Heart” it’s a painfully bleak 15 minutes of film. 

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January 21, 2017
Dead Men Don’t Write Plays – Not Even Shakespeare

Questions about who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare have been surfacing for decades. However, this year the New Oxford Complete Works of Shakespeare credits Christopher Marlowe with some of the Shakespeare body of work.

Marlowe, England’s foremost playwright before Shakespeare, was supposedly murdered in 1593, just a few days before he was to be sentenced for treason. He was “immediately buried in an unmarked grave which hasn’t been found to this day.”

Some Shakespeare scholars believe that Marlowe faked his death and spent the rest of his life in hiding as William Shakespeare, an unknown actor who had never written anything before, suddenly appears on the scene writing these classic works.

After 1616, the year the actor died, 14 plays by “Shakespeare” continue to appear, leading some to believe that Marlowe actually outlived the Bard.

My novel, “The Shakespeare Conspiracy” by Ted Bacino, tells the story of Marlowe’s life in hiding as he continues to write. The last third of the book is a supplement detailing the actual facts pertaining to this theory.

The article “Dead Men Don’t Write Plays – Not Even Shakespeare” gives an overview of the New Oxford announcement.

The stage version of the novel has had successful productions in various U.S. cities. The web site is

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