Several years ago I was really excited about the launch of a local film festival. They launch in the town square with an outside movie. And had several decent full length movies and talks in place, also several major technical difficulties. Sadly in the many years following, the festival seemed to never pop-up on the radar. I was very disappointed, being a big fan of film festivals.
Then, as it happens, I was sitting around not wanting to focus yesterday (saturday) wondering what might be going on in my town. And there is was, my beloved city’s film festival was this weekend! This year they seem to have a lot of shorts, and there was a grouping of them that evening. I was very impressed with the quality of the films. Two out of the three advertised directors were there (out of 7 films total). My only disappointment was the directors didn’t stay to watch the other films. As a matter of fact, one director walked in during another movie with 8 people, and being the room wasn’t that big, it was very distracting while they were moving back and forth looking for seats together.
I was really impressed with the quality of films. I do not know if the festival requests films (as many smaller film festivals do) or if they are solely individual submission based (as many of the really large film festivals are) or if they are a mix of both.
Film Reviews and Thoughts
Keep your eye’s peeled if you come across the opportunity to watch: “The Championship Rounds”. This short was incredibly powerful and my favorite of the evening. Focusing on a young deaf man, James (played by Michael Spady), whose father had been an up and coming boxer before his downfall due to drugs and alcohol. James, who appears to have also trained at some point in boxing (sadly I did miss the first 15-minutes of the movie), along with losing his father at a young age, has been handed a short straw in many other ways as well. James, a single father to an infant, comes across a man, Darryl (played by the ever amazing Harold Perrineau Jr.) who once knew his father, and through Darryl’s over the top persistent self, gets James back into the ring… right about when the short film ends. Thank’s to the discussion that quickly followed with the director, Daniel Stine, the writer’s intention is to create a full length movie. I cannot wait!
“Hearts and Minds” was another fantastically powerful short. Showing the difficulty of a man returning from war; and the decisions and motions he made and went through while deployed. This short follows a young man who struggles to find peace with his actions while struggling to return to the home and return to the life he once lived. This short also featured a discuss with the director, Charlie Guillen. The hope of this short, is to create a strong television series, focusing on a different soldier each episode.
“Do Not Enter” was a fun and hilarious short film, with no ulterior motive as the first two. A young man lets himself into an apartment to do some painting. The owners, who are out, leave him a note inviting him to eat or drink whats in the fridge, but request he does not enter the room with the locked doors… Does this really stop anyone? A sci-fi twist see’s this young man’s imagination go from curiosity to thinking the world belongs to him. Set at 17 minutes long, this film was enjoyable and almost slightly sad not to see a second person come onto the scene and what they might find beyond the door!
“Freefall” although not one of my favorites for the evening, was about a young girl whose mom was only half paying attention to her at the park, busily taking work photo calls. The short had some ballet dancers and the movie is basically summed up when the girl scraps her knee and her mom finally stops ignoring her. Well filmed, but could have worked as a 3 minute movie better than a 9 minute movie.
“Lines in the Sand” was a sad movie about two young sisters who lost everything and escaping their children’s home relived happy memories while near the shore in the English seaside town they lived in. Sadly the truth is that it’s more than just the sisters reliving their moments of joy, it’s also about reliving the horrors of life.
“Alice” seems like a classic short film, at less than 5 minutes it was the shortest film of the evening. It shows a classic case of a lonely elderly man who longs for his dead daughter. She befriends a young girl from a famous painting on the wall of the Art Gallery where he is a security guard.
A film festival would not be a film festival without a short about the German occupation somewhere! “Roter Schnee (Red Snow)” features a German officer in Serbia dealing with his own emotions about what he believes to be right and wrong, what his job tells him is right and wrong, and his own actions. Although he never falters in his position of an officer, he deals with his own emotions to what (many might call oddly) a fantastic ending to the movie.
I really am sad I found out about the four-day festival so late, as I would have really enjoyed seeing more films. Looking forward to next year! Short films although don’t make the theatres, and are hardly shown on television, are always worth the effort to see when they come to town.
Alexandria Film Festival
The Championship Rounds