Like bedtime stories we finish in one sitting, short films can provide almost instant gratification. But not all of the work at the 32nd Annual New York Expo of Short Film and Video (December 2 through 6 at the New School) will give viewers sweet dreams. The Wager, an unsettling dark drama, follows a strange character as he forces another man into a life-or-death gamble. Jay Rosenblatt’s chilling pseudo-doc Human
Remains has Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, and Mao narrating the humdrum details of their lives. The facts they divulge may seem laughable (“I only had one testicle”), but the slow grave-digger’s shovel separating each tale reminds us of the atrocities the men committed. The
Expo also spotlights some lighter pieces. The Pixar-animated Geri’s Game and the Welcome to the Dollhouseesque “Mad” Boy, I’ll Blow Your Blues Away prove that sometimes short is sweet after all.