Thursday, May 31, 2007
My Holiday with Student Films Across America
Between swimming pool dips and cookouts, the more typical of Memorial Day activities, I also watched and re-watched some half dozen short films courtesy of the ambitious folks behind the debut film tour Student Films Across America. As a volunteer judge, I’m not going to disclose my rankings publicly. I’ll leave that task to Student Films Festival Director Steven Amos and his ambitious crew. What’s worth mentioning is the consistent quality of the entries I watched, all from emerging artists and all worthy of big-screen, public viewings. One of the films I viewed repeatedly was filmmaker Moon Molson’s “Pop Foul” (pictured left), a tense coming-of-age tale about a young boy who acts out after watching his father beaten by a local criminal during a walk home from his Little League game. I missed “Pop Foul” during its Sundance Film Festival screenings, where it was part of the shorts program, but I was glad to finally catch up with the standout film.
Filmmaker Gavin Heffernan pays homage to Agnieszka Holland’s 1999 faith drama “The Third Miracle” with “Santa Croce,” his picture-perfect tale of a rural California town responding to a religious miracle.
In “Somewhere in the City,” a tale of a restaurant owner reaching out to man in desperate need for a job, filmmaker Ramsey Denison makes beautiful use of the film’s cramped kitchen setting.
“Alibi Inc.” is a French-language thriller involving a company who provide alibis to their less-than-honest customers (The same idea was used on a recent “CSI: New York show). Director Gregoire Bedard serves his story well with plenty of atmospheric flourishes.
A scene at the end of “An Abstraction on the Chronology of Will,” co-directors Ben Collins and Kevin Phillips’ tale of a young man who joins the military as means to get over his failed love life, is visually astounding. It’s as if the main character travels back through the entire film in order to apologize to his ex-girlfriend.
Finally, actor/filmmaker Ryan Krickow works both sides of the camera in “Hyperhydrosis,” a subtle comedy about nervous sweating taken to comic book-like proportions.
Short films may be abundant on the Internet but the majority are quick, homegrown, uploaded rants, closer in spirit to e-mail than literature.
Student Films Across America, which will showcase these films as part of a tour beginning June 7 in select cinemas across the country, treat these young directors as artists and not video bloggers. I was honored to have the chance to help out.
Check out tour dates, maps and fun videos from the festival tour bus at www.studentfilmsacrossamerica.com