The ninth annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series starts strong.

The ninth annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series continues every Thursday night this summer. 

As the screen lit up amid the redwoods, it finally felt as if summer has arrived.

Henry Miller Memorial Library's ninth annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series got off to a shining start last night, with an eclectic lineup of shorts that inspired laughter, melancholy and reflection. 

HMML exec director Magnus Toren took the stage before the show and spoke on the laborious process of curating this year's selections, saying that due to the increased popularity of the series, he has been bombarded with submissions, most of them painfully bad.

"I think we're going to start charging to submit films," Toren says, bringing cheers from the crowd. 

The fruit of all that labor shined last night.

The opening film, the Iraq-made Baghdad Messi, was nicely timed with the World Cup debut, and muses on the risk of dreaming in a war torn country.  

The second film, Fool's Day, stole the show, and follows a classroom of elementary school students in their efforts to cover up the mess created by accidentally blowing up their teacher's head with an April Fool's prank. Deliciously subversive, the film had everything one would want in a short: Outstanding performances, direction and fast-paced storytelling. 

Remnants examines a former couple meeting up for coffee after not having seen each other for months or years, and while not groundbreaking, offered some insight into how two people who love each other can drift apart.

The very short A Fish Called Keith was cute but forgettable, which made it a good segue into the final film of the night, Zela Trovke.

A documentary of an Eastern European music troupe's study of an old Slovak moritat—a type of ballad that narrates the events surrounding a murder—the film riffs on the power of folklore's grip and cultural relevance. The namesake ballad in the film, which is hundreds of years old, recounts a woman who cuts the grass, feeds the cows, then kills her husband. While brutal, the ballad is hypnotic and beautiful, a powerful ode to female power and vengeance. We get the sense that before Kill Bill, there was "Zela Trovke."

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