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Entries in Film Festivals (77)

Monday
Apr092018

Announcing the Short Film Slam Finalist - Round 1

Kicking off the Short Film Slam at the Sci Fi Center On behalf of participating filmmakers, audiences, venues and as writer/editor at The Madlab Post, I am happy to present the Finalist and Movie of the Month for Round 1 of the 2018 Short Film Slam.

 

Finalists advance to the next round of competition and are eligible to compete for the BEST SHORT FILM Award in the final round, with a total prize of $1,000.

Filmmakers whose works are chosen as Movie of the Month win one of several non-cash prizes like the filmmaking publication of their choice, marketing support, or a subscription to Vimeo Plus.

Before announcing the Round 1 Finalist, I would like to thank The Sci Fi Center for a fun Kickoff screening in Las Vegas! I met some cool people there who were glad to discuss their favorites among this ecletic lineup of short films, including rare titles.

 

'My Bedroom' Director Samantha Tan at the Short Film Slam.I would also like to thank Temple University student Samantha Tan for an enlightening Q&A session at the screening in Philly; where she gave audiences further insight into the motivations behind making her experimental horror film My Bedroom

 

Now let's take a look at the nominees for Round 1 Finalist & Movie of the Month....
Straight out of The International Film School of Paris, Temple University and Montgomery Blair High School, the nominees among STUDENT films are Blessed Days directed by Valentina Casadei, My Bedroom directed by Samantha Tan, and The Fabric of America directed by Alyssa Berrios and Ghandi Bridage Youth Media.

 

'Blessed Days' Directed by Valentina CasadeiIn the short drama Blessed Days, An unexpected dream brings an 85-year-old lady to relive the last moments of life at an art museum with her deceased husband.

 

'My Bedroom' Directed by Samantha Tan

 

In the exprimental horror film My Bedroom, A young girl named Emily wakes up in the middle of the night because of the noises in her bedroom.

 

'The Fabric of America' produced by Ghandi Bridage Youth Media

In the short documentary film The Fabric of America, A high school student explores the direct influence and impact that our immigration system has in Montgomery County, Maryland.

 



 

Hailing from Lativa and Australia, the nominees among INTERNATIONAL films are Just Go! directed by Pavel Gumennikov, Big City directed by Jordan Bond, and The Morning After directed by Leanne Mangan.

 

'Just Go!' Directed by Pavel GumennikovIn the Action/Drama Just Go! (inspired by an incredible true story), a young 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.

 

'Big City' Directed by Jordan Bond

 

In the short drama film Big City, a lonely taxi driver is befriended by a passenger who tries to coax him out of his shell.

 

 

'The Morning After' Directed by Leanne ManganIn the short drama film The Morning After, A backpacker wakes up in a rice paddy field in Cambodia with no knowledge of how he got there, what happened the night before, or where his girlfriend is. 

 

 

Representing the states of Colorado and California, the nominees among films MADE IN AMERICA are Colorado Counties: A Journey in Watercolor directed by Ronnie Cramer and Grant Me Hope in 5 Minutes directed by Sherry Wang.

 

'Colorado Counties: A Journey in Watercolor' Directed by Ronnie Cramer

 

In the documentary Colorado Counties: A Journey in Watercolor, a man travels by foot, Jeep and a Harley-Davidson to paint scenes in all 64 counties in Colorado.

 

 

 

'Grant Me Hope in 5 Minutes' Directed by Sherry WangIn the Sci-Fi/Action short Grant Me Hope in 5 Minutes, a good robot goes to battle with an evil robot, to protect an Alien princess.

 

Coming from Spain alongside a Chicago-bred filmmaker who moved to China, the nominees in the WILD CARD category are SAVE directed by Iván Sáinz-Pardo and What I Hate about Myself directed by Ben Mullenkinson and Bobby Moser.

 

'Save' Directed by Iván Sáinz-PardoIn the horror film SAVE, A baby breaks the silence between an estranged couple.

 

'What I Hate about Myself' Directed by Ben Mullenkinson and Bobby MoserIn the documentary film What I Hate about Myself, An 18-year-old Chinese girl enters a televised competition for free plastic surgery, in an effort to look more "Western."

 

Now it is the time to first announce the Runner Up: 
With a total score of 39pts based on audience votes, the Runner Up for Round 1 Finalist is Blessed Days (dir. Valentina Casadei).

 

ALSO With a total score of 39pts based on audience votes, the Runner Up for Movie of the Month is What I Hate about Myself (dir. Ben Mullenkinson & Bobby Moser)

 

I also want to take this time to give a special shout out to Jordan Bond, whose film Big City received 38 points and was just one point away from becoming a Runner Up for the Best Short Film Finalist in the first round.

 

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for...


With a total score of 44 points in Round 1 of the 2018 Short Film Slam, the Finalist is Just Go! (dir. Pavel Gummenikov). With the most points overall based on audience votes, Just Go! is also the Movie of the Month winner and recipient of a one year subscription to Vimeo Plus or an alternative non-cash prize of the filmmaker's choice. As a Finalist, Just Go! will advance to the next round (.i.e. Final Round) of competition where it will compete for the BEST SHORT FILM Award. That officially marks the end of the first round.

 

Most of the remaining nominated films will now move to the Wild Card category, where they will be eligible to also compete for a prize in the final round.  

 

Thank you to all of the audience members who voted on each film in Round 1. Also thank you to the filmmakers for being a part of the 2018 Short FIlm Slam. I look forward to a fun year in short films as we continue to learn how audiences respond to your work. And thank you to everyone around the world who appreciates and supports the art of short films as well as the people who make them. Round 2 is currently underway, complete with thrills, chills and ice cream.

Stay tuned to learn about where and how you can watch these films and vote for your favorites!

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.