Short Stay. 2016. USA. Directed by Ted Fendt. 61 min.
Multi-hyphenate Ted Fendt delivers on the promise of his acclaimed short films without sacrificing an ounce of his singular charm and rigor. Shooting on 16mm (blown up to 35mm), the writer-director-editor here focuses on Mike (Mike MacCherone), an ambitionless resident of Haddonfield, New Jersey, who finds himself subletting a friend’s room in Philadelphia and (ineptly) covering his shifts at a by-donation walking-tour company. Mike floats, as if in a trance, from one low-key comic folly to another, each one a strange and subtle moral tale. Fendt’s economy of expression, expert handling of his nonprofessional cast, and incomparable nose for the tragicomic dimension of the everyday distinguishes Short Stay as a truly anomalous work in contemporary American cinema: a film made entirely on its maker’s terms.