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Thursday
Jan112018

It’s Showtime in Vegas! My ‘Short Film Slam’ Debuts at the Sci Fi Center

My mission in 2018 is to continue bringing people together through the magic of the moving image while also providing ways for budding filmmakers to get their work in front of a wider audience. I have many plans to make that happen including putting on the Short Film Slam -- a semi-monthly screening series that showcases films from the U.S. and abroad during live screenings at my new studio and through an online members-only viewing room.

Official Selections for the 2018 Short Film Slam will be revealed starting 7PM this Friday January 12th during a kickoff screening at the Sci Fi Center in Las Vegas. The audience vote will determine the winning film(s) for each “round” of this tournament-like series. The great thing about this Vegas debut is local movie fanatics will get to watch and cast their votes on the 2018 Short Film Slam program lineup before anyone else in the country.

Another great thing about this kickoff screening is it creates opportunities for relatively little-known films to be discovered and celebrated in new places well beyond where they were made. Whether you are in Las Vegas (if so, see you at the show!) or itching for a ticket to the online viewing room, here is a sampling of the films to be featured in this month’s showcase and where they hail from.

U.S. States Represented: California, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania

Countries Represented: Lativa, France, Australia, Germany

Schools Represented: Temple University, International Film School of Paris, Montgomery Blair High School

Featured Genres: Action, Horror, Documentary, Sci-Fi, Drama, Experimental

Featured Storylines:

  • A lonely taxi driver is befriended by a passenger who tries to coax him out of his shell.
  • A backpacker wakes up in a rice paddy field in Cambodia with no recollection of how he got there, what happened the night before, or where his girlfriend is.
  • A young girl named Emily hears strange noises in her bedroom.
  • A man travels by foot, Jeep and a Harley-Davidson to paint scenes in all 64 counties in Colorado.
  • A man who lost both his legs in a childhood accident comes to the rescue of the girl he loves when she is victimized by villains.
  • An unexpected dream brings an 85-year-old lady to relive the last moments of life at the museum with her deceased husband.
  • An 18-year-old Chinese girl enters a televised competition for free plastic surgery, in an effort to look more “Western.”
  • A good robot goes to battle with an evil robot, to protect an Alien princess.
  • An estranged couple tries to ease their child’s distress.
  • A high school student explores the many sides and issues underlying America’s immigration system.

The Short Film Slam is playing Friday, January 12, 2018 at the Sci Fi Center located at 5077 Arville St. Las Vegas, NV 89118

Showtime: 7PM  Admission: $5

Which of the states, countries, schools, genres and/or stories would YOU vote for (and why?) to be represented by a film, during the 2018 Short Film Slam?

Monday
Nov202017

What the Best Short Films in the World Can Teach Us about Building Community

Locals attend the closing night screening of the 2017 shnit International Short Film Festival in PhiladelphiaEvery time I host the shnit International Short Film Festival in Philadelphia, something amazing happens. Strangers from different parts of the city start talking to each other, dissecting their favorite selections from a lineup of (mostly) foreign films. During these discussions, audience members learn that they share similar viewpoints on certain films and in circumstances where people disagree, they still show consideration for perspectives unlike their own.

There always seems to be a film that stands out like a sore thumb, for better or worse. In 2015, it was Beauty, an Italian film exploring the cycle of life through classical paintings. Attendees collectively deemed this animated short “inappropriate" because of its nudity and related graphic imagery. In 2016, men and women in the audience realized that the one thing they had in common was their struggle in figuring out the meaning behind Drôle d'oiseau (Strange Bird) -- a Belgian film that tells the story of a man with Bipolar disorder.

So many different interpretations of Strange Bird led to an interesting debate about what really went down in that film. It’s a level of audience engagement that you won’t find on a typical day at your local movie theater. This year, the Austrian flick Oxytocin and Colombian drama Madre sparked the most audience discussion, particularly revolving around motherhood. Why such an of pairing of films would elicit similar responses still baffles my mind; Oxytocin is about a woman who lives with a lifelike doll whereas Madre tells the story of a 16 year-old girl who attends a casting call for an adult pornographic movie.

L'odeur après la pluie (The Smell after the Rain)Screening shnit has also become a learning experience for me, having realized over the years that there is no way to predict what someone else will enjoy watching. Moonkup, a French comedy fared better than I expected; audience members were into the story, despite the film being about women giving menstrual blood to maintain peace between vampires and humans.

 Die Badewanne (The Bathtub), a German comedy about three brothers trying to recreate a childhood photo, was hit-or-miss and I thought it would be well received. Then there is L'odeur après la pluie (The Smell after the Rain), a slow paced, uneventful Canadian film that I was sure would put people to sleep. This love story, about a widow and her old cowboy flame, turned out to be among the audience favorites.

It seems a program of foreign films can have a larger impact than one originally anticipated as well. I set out to bring communities together through the shared love of watching movies while helping filmmakers gain an audience for their work. During the festival, people from various walks of life ended up exploring parts of Philadelphia and its inhabitants in ways that they may not otherwise have the opportunity or interest to do so.

Suzi Nash and David Gana at Opening Night for the 2017 shnit International Short Film Festival in PhiladelphiaSome attendees this year were not familiar with the revitalization of the Bok building in South Philly nor Taller Puertorriqueño's newly constructed El Corazón Cultural Center in North Philly where I hosted the shnit Opening and Closing night screenings, respectively. A few fashion and accessories aficionados who attended the show at Bok expressed interest in shopping for wares at the upcoming Small Business Saturday event in the building.

A few women at the closing night screening inquired about art programs at Taller Puertorriqueño and renting the space for a private party. These experiences have taught me that the best thing about shnit goes far beyond providing locals with access to award-winning short films from around the world. It offers the ability to spark meaningful connections between ourselves and the places in which we live, work and socialize. Audience members weren't on their phones at these screenings in Philadelphia. They were completely engrossed in the stories, people and places playing out on the screen in front of them.

This year I met women who do not normally go to film festivals and also young men who do not watch foreign films. At the end of each screening, however, everyone could name a film they favored most. That goes to show how we may not speak the same language but we have the ability to understand and even relate to a vast spectrum of human emotions, experiences and behavior. As I gear up to expand the shnit experience on the east coast, I hope these mini movies can continue to become a springboard for building community amidst a diverse cultural landscape.


 

Thursday
Nov022017

3 Reasons Women in Film Must Take Part in the Open Night of Competition at Franky Bradley's this Weekend 

Is your Film best served with roasted Nordic Cod over risotto with melted leeks & lump crabmeat, finished with a lobster bordelaise at Franky Bradley's?Filmmakers are invited to show their films made for, by or about women, during a special night of competition Friday, November 3rd at Franky Bradley's restaurant in Philadelphia.

Films with a running time of 10 minutes or less will be selected (and screened) at random from those in attendance. It's like an open-mic night but for filmmakers, which sounds like fun. When I found out about the competition, I thought of the one-minute romantic comedy flick I wrote and directed a while ago.

It would be perfect for this event, except for the fact that I accidently sat on the DVD and the sole remaining copy of that short film is only compatible for mobile devices. For everyone else -- the producers, directors and actresses out there who have a film that is still intact and will play well in front of attendees at Franky Bradley's this weekend -- your chance to win the competition remains.

The winner will be featured in the upcoming Women's Film Festival (in March 2018). While that is the main reason to participate in this open night of competition, here are additional benefits that filmmakers may gain by taking part in this event:

(l-r): Robin McDonald and Blaire Baron star in the comedy film 'The Candidate,' an official selection at the 2017 Women's Film Festival screening series, presented in partnership with qFLIX.Participating Filmmakers Face Less Competition 

On average, The Women's Film Festival receives several hundred submissions each year, from filmmakers hoping their work gets accepted to screen in one of the programs. Bringing your film this Friday means you may only have to compete with whoever shows up that evening.

So, local filmmakers have a better shot at solidifying a place for their work in the 2018 Women's Film Festival program. The chance to get accepted into any festival without having to put your film through the selection process -- an anxiety-inducing waiting game that could take up to a few months to complete -- is one worth taking.

Proceeds from a Cash Bar Benefit the Women's Film Festival

Aside from after-parties, the festival hosts a Filmmaker's Brunch that provides opportunities for filmmakers in attendance to network and get new projects off of the ground. Fundraisers such as the one at Franky Bradley's on Friday help offset the costs involved in putting these events on. You might be surprised at what great things can happen while chatting about film over food and cocktails. The festival itself was born out of a conversation between two women at a restaurant, so there's that to consider.

(l-r): Mela Hudson and Tori Hall star in the road trip film 'Split Costs,' an official selection in the 2017 Women's Film Festival screening series.Filmmakers Can Leverage their Franky Bradley's Screening and Make It Count

Are you're in the post-production stage? Use this special night of competition as an opportunity to test the latest version of your film in front of an audience.

Even if you don't win a spot to screen your film at the Women's Film Festival in 2018, the feedback alone can be worth your participation in the lottery-style event at Franky Bradley's. Did you recently finish the final sound mix, color correction, etc. on a short that is now ready for its close-up? Use the open night of competition as an opportunity to host a cast & crew screening of your film.

The Women's Film Festival presents "Who's Got Short Shorts?" -- a program of short films selected randomly from those in attendance on Friday, November 3, 2017 at Franky Bradley's 1320 Chancellor Street in Philly. Show runs 6pm-9pm. Films must be submitted on a flash drive in .mov or .mp4 formats.

What are YOUR plans for this Friday night?