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*All 31 "Prompts" might not be featured on this blog; I have my own schedule and topics to adhere to.

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Tuesday
Feb202018

Presenting the Oscar Nominated Short Films! Here are the Philadelphia Showtimes....

Cinephiles have a rare opportunity to see all of this year's Oscar Nominated Short Films in one day! On Saturday, March 3rd, one day before the 90th Academy Awards telecast, I will be screening all 15 short film nominees back to back at my Philadelphia studio in the historic BOK building.

Attendees will also receive an official OSCAR SHORTS prediction ballot to guess the winners.

11:00AM - Oscar Shorts: Animation - RESERVE YOUR SEAT
Academy Award Nominees for Best Animated Short Film include Basketball legend Kobe Bryant's ode to basketball brought to life by Disney animator Glen Keane as they explore what it means to achieve your dream, and then leave it behind; a tale about a frogs that let loose in a deserted mansion; a comedic adaptation of Roald Dahl's dark poems; a PIXAR tale about a "Lost and Found" box that teaches a schoolyard bully a lesson; a stop-motion story about a son's reflection of his relationship with his father through their packing ritual.

1:00PM - Oscar Shorts: Live Action - RESERVE YOUR SEAT

Academy Award Nominees for Best Live Action Short Film include a comedic tale about a delusional patient of a psychiatrist who actually believes he's the psychiatrist; a story inspired by a 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia; the story of the Mississippi man who tries to protect his 14-year-old nephew Emmett Till from two killers out for blood.

More Oscar nominees in the Best Live Action Short Film category include the tale of a deaf four year old girl who lives in a world of silence until she learns the gift of communication; the story of Muslim bus passengers who fought off an attack in Kenya.

3:00PM - Oscar Shorts: Documentary - RESERVE YOUR SEAT
Academy Award Nominees for the category of Best Documentary (Short Subject) include the story of America's oldest interracial newlyweds whose love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart; a portrait of 56 year-old artist Mindy Alper whose work reveals a lifetime of depression and mental disorder; the story of three women who are fighting the drug abuse epidemic in their town.

More Oscar contenders in this category include a story about the challenges of men and women released from prison who are training to launch a world-class French restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio; the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American schoolteacher from Austin, TX who was stopped for a routine traffic violation that escalates into a harrowing arrest.

It's an Oscar Nominated Short Film Marathon, exclusively at The Madlab Post. Who's ready?

*The Madlab Post's screening room has a limited seating capacity. Reservations must be made online in advance.

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.