March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Capitol City Film Festival salutes student and professional filmmakers with showcases of shorts

In addition to its feature presentations, the Capitol City Film Festival is also showcasing the short works of student and professional filmmakers this weekend. Here are brief looks at some of the films on the schedule. For information n the festival, see the Capitol City Film Festival website.

"Surf Detroit"
(Screening at noon Saturday as part of "Student Shorts Block 1")
A funny, sweet and tender short about a Chinese-American girl living in the shadow of her wannabe surfer brother. The problem? They live in Detroit, where it’s kinda tough to hang 10.  The easy familiarity between the actors — and some laugh-out-loud visuals — make this an enjoyable wave to ride.

"Stranger on a Train"
(Screening at noon Saturday as part of "Student Shorts Block 1")
A sloppy fever dream mess.  Poor production values are the least of this “Twilight Zone” rip-off’s problems, as a nave American goes “looking for God” in India and has a series of inane conversations about spirituality with his train compartment-mates.

"The Girl With Blue Eyes"
(Screening at noon Saturday as part of "Professionalt Shorts Block 1")
I think this was a trailer for a movie about a woman who infiltrates a gang of spies, but it’s hard to tell. For 10 head-scratching minutes, we jump between a sadistic training montage, a man-on-woman fistfight in a darkened apartment, and a clunky conversation over red wine and scrambled eggs. If they were trying to build intrigue through confusion, they failed.

"The Death of Toys"
(Screening at 4:30 p.m. Sunday as part of the "AFI Directing Workshop for Women Showcase")
Or “Lifetime Movie in a Box.” A single mom with abandonment issues grapples with her son’s burgeoning adolescence in a creepy, yet unique, fashion: her character keeps Walter Mitty-ing into her 10-year-old self. Bittersweet and with a few good chuckles, it's a solid exploration of the seductive lure of nostalgia--and a must-watch for parents of pre-teens.