Short Stay is a barely releasable anti-movie, yet writer/director Ted Fendt – a short film storyteller – probably classifies his feature-length debut as a success.
The indie doesn’t necessarily have a plot or a mission; it more or less locks on a bland focal point. Mike (played by Mike MacCherone) is a familiar face around his Philadelphia community. Everyone knows him, and he’ll bend over backwards to assist his fellow neighbour. However, because of a weak backbone and a floundering social life, his loyalty is sometimes taken for granted. Such is the case when wayward friend Mark (Mark Simmons) sublets his apartment and gives his walking tour business over to Mike in order to comfortably go on vacation.
For most of Short Stay’s runtime, we watch Mike conduct the tour, awkwardly break the ice with acquaintances, and wait for someone else to ask him for a favour. MacCherone purposely checks himself out so much that filmmaker Fendt could’ve easily made a sci-fi flick and developed Mike into an AI prototype of the “perfect companion”. That, at least, would have been a more interesting premise than a stiff fly-on-the-wall perception of a desperate dork everyone walks over.
While Short Stay could be compared to the early days of the mumblecore movement, at least those lo-fi indies had a purpose to build off of. Short Stay, which is excruciatingly long at a mere 60-minutes, needs more going for it. That doesn’t mean Ted Fendt needed to add more “friends” to Mike’s life. It means that even though Mike’s lifestyle is filled with flatlining boredom, that doesn’t mean the audience’s experience watching the movie has to be the same.
MDFF presents an exclusive screening of Short Stay at Toronto’s The Royal Cinema on Wednesday, February 8 at 8:00pm. Buy advance tickets here!
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie