First Friday Shorts: The Loft Cinema, Friday, Dec. 3

Max Cannon with winner Adam Ray.

The Loft Cinema's First Friday Shorts event is one of the most consistently interesting evenings of entertainment around these parts—even when the short films playing on the Loft's big screen are awful.

In fact, things tend to be a lot more fun when the films are awful.

Here's how the 5 1/2-year-old event works: Anybody can bring a short film they've made. The film runs for three minutes; at that time, a red spotlight shines on the gong. If the crowd is enjoying the film, everyone is supposed to stay quiet (supposed to being the key phrase); if the film sucks, and a majority of attendees shout for the film to be gonged, host Max Cannon is supposed to (again, supposed to ...) hit the gong and stop the film. Films that aren't gonged are eligible for that night's $200 prize; when movies are gonged, the filmmakers are invited to tell the audience to "suck it."

After starting with a ringer featuring Charles Bronson killing hipsters (Cannon and co. intersperse the proceedings with ridiculous yet amusing films they've come across; a YouTube clip of a disheveled, shirtless dude imitating a goat was played repeatedly on this Friday), the first of the night's 17 entries hit the screen ... and it featured two hirsute dudes wearing jumpsuits and dancing in front of various backgrounds. Because the film was barely more than three minutes long, it was saved from the gong.

In fact, the loud, young audience of hundreds gonged only one film all night: a movie called The Janitor—which was filmed at the Loft. Go figure.

The night's big hits included Sassy Bitches, which featured a short snippet of some guy's dogs, played several times, with a rap song as the soundtrack; Milk and Cookies, focusing on a boy who decides to take revenge on Santa after an incident involving his mother; and The Racist Cat, the tale of a black cat lashing out at his not-so-well-hung white owner.

However, the night's big winner was Adam Ray's Al'jidera: The Mystery in the Desert, an 8 1/2-minute long stop-motion animation film about a desert warrior on the quest ... with a strange surprise ending.

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