Some of the entries gain immeasurably from context: Coming on the heels of the arid Antichrist, a nearly half-hour-long Polish film about a group of boys playing out masochistic scenarios in a barren wasteland, the gentle naturalism of the Brazilian The Old Woman's Step comes as an earthy delight. An elderly woman sells a chicken at market to buy a birthday gift for her fisherman grandson; like its protagonist, the film moves slowly but radiates a quiet generosity of spirit.
The tripartite We Have Decided Not to Die (from Australia) reaches nakedly for transcendence, but more genuinely visionary is the German closer, Ring of Fire, a mock epic black-and-white animation that finds a pair of cowboys apparently lost in a desert of sexually charged western imagery. It's provocative, mystifying, original, and, as if to prove the vitality of the short form, utterly unimaginable at feature length.
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