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With our decreased attention spans, you’d think Americans would love short-film festivals. But because of the loss of our capacity to form long-term memories, I can’t remember if, in fact, we do. So you might as well test the hypothesis by going to the Manhattan Short Film Festival at the Loft, where 10 tiny films, some of them real gems, await you. While the choices are a bit conservative—emphasizing high-quality cinematography and sharp editing—there are nonetheless some inventive moments. Notable are Watching, a movie about a con job that ends exactly how you think it will, but is nonetheless satisfying; Madagascar, which uses natural-media-style animation to create a swirl of watercolors, sketches and drawings that come to life, pop out into a third dimension and then dissolve into the kind of effects that used to cost millions of dollars but now can be done on one of those new Russian iPhone knock-offs; The Pool, which is a flawlessly composed ghost story about teen angst set in a single, wet room; and Echo, a terrifying Polish short about the aftermath of the murder of a teenage girl. In fact, Echo alone is worth the price of admission, and none of the movies are terrible or boring, which, in world where Sarah Palin is considered a foreign-policy expert, is more than we can really ask for.

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