The shorts program of the second night of the Charleston International Film Festival had something to move, disturb, inspire, and draw laughs from almost everyone, with a lineup that included animation and period drama, among other things.

The evening was off to a strong start with Wallenda, a drama about high-wire artist Karl Wallenda that opened with the shocking (and real) image of a 73-year-old Wallenda falling from his wire during his final performance in San Juan. The collective gasp in the theater as he struggled and dropped reminded us why movie theaters will never die: There’s just something special about experiencing the same emotions as a roomful of strangers.

The animated Fisher, a melancholy tale of loneliness and self-realization, was another audience favorite. The images appeared as if seen through a old-fashioned stereopticon or magic lantern, with a softness that adds to the surreal qualities of the story and characters within it. Angels, a drama about a young girl who tries to “fix” her deformed newborn baby brother, was just as disturbing as you would imagine, and thankfully was followed by the absurdist Guaranteed Happiness, a tale New Yorkers and Klonopin (which seem to go together quite well). Adam’s Tallit was a beautiful story of an elderly Holocaust survivor who gradually opens up to her outgoing young grandson, and Mossadegh was a quiet tale of a murder attempt on the life of the house-arrested Iranian democratic leader, Mohammad Mossadegh. Finally, The Environmentalist poked fun at eco-doomsayers while subtly bringing up all that’s wrong with our world.

When we stumbled out of the dark theater into Cinebarre’s lobby, we found ourselves in a full-on party, complete with a great crowd, lights, and cool music. But if you ask us, the real awesomeness was outside at the hula hoop dance party — the flashing light-up hula hoops and the techno music really kicked things up.

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