SXSW 2020 Short Film REVIEWS: Quilt Fever, Call Center Blues, Blocks

SXSW 2020 Day 3 of 10 day limited available event. Don’t hesitate, watch these films you’re interested in while you can.

Quilt Fever ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Run time: 16 minutes
Director: Olivia Loomis Merrion
SXSW film #5 watched

Quilting gone wild! Every year, quilters gather to showcase their quilts. This is described as the “academy awards of quilting.” There is even a Quilt Channel. I don’t quilt and don’t even know anybody who does. It seems many of those involved with quilting, at least those shown in the short film, were seniors or older. Older seniors than myself. I’m hoping this doesn’t become some dying artistic skill, that there are plenty of younger people involved, but didn’t get that vibe in the film.

Now, just because I don’t know much about quilting, didn’t impact my enjoyment at looking at the many gorgeous quilts displayed. They looked very time consuming, especially those that were sewn largely by hand. There was one lady in particular labeled the “queen of quilting.” She should have been a more central figure, focusing on her would really have made this more compelling. If she’s the best, the one that many look up to on quilting, then how did she get her start? How long does she spend quilting?

The time factor was very glazed over at best. I remain curious how long it takes each of these quilts to be hand-made? There were random shots of sewing machines working in detailed designs. I would have rather seen human beings quilting than machines, but maybe the machines are required or the highest precision stitching? Again, that’s not really explained either.

At the end, it was a fun mostly cursory look at how popular quilting is with quilters, but not sure it converted an outsider to investigate more.

Call Center Blues ⭐️⭐️
Run time: 26 minutes
SXSW film #6 watched

This sometimes somber, often optimistic view of life in the call centers in Tijuana, Mexico. It follows primarily two women and how they have benefited from their experience in the call centers, a primary employer in the area. The sad part is thinking how many businesses based in the United States have opted for call center outside the country, putting people in other countries to work.

We hear the response to this time and again that people in these other countries will work for far less than most Americans. There is truth to that, I’m sure, but it’s interesting to see how a poorer city in a country is impacted by people excited to work. Just being able to have a job. There is a huge value in that vs. being out of work and everything that comes associated with that.

A bit longer and more dramatic than it probably should have been, but took a subject that seems largely boring and spotlights a compelling angle to it.

Blocks ⭐️⭐️½
Run time: 12 minutes
Director: Bridget Moloney
SXSW film #7 watched

Described as an “extistential comedy” a mother starts vomiting up blocks. We could call them LEGO-wannabes, but there is licensing involved there, so we won’t, but you get it. Red, blue, white, etc blocks. The premise is creative, which I liked. The execution? A little underwhelming.

As for comedy? I’m not sure there was any comedy in watch someone throw up blocks. I get there is a larger metaphor to the day to day grind, but I wasn’t feeling it that way. She build a house from the blocks and then doesn’t let anybody come inside it. “Mom’s just trying something out.” — OK, I liked some of the dialogue and the interplay with the husband.