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Entries in Foreign Films (13)

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
Oct132016

TallerPR’s Carlos Pardo Discusses shnit Film Festival Picks, Philly After-School Programs and Traveling the World

Made in Spain, the shnit International Short Film Festival selection 'El Corredor' (The Runner) is about a man whose first day jogging leads to crossing paths with one of the 300 workers he fired from his company five years ago. It won Best Short Film at the Goya Awards 2016.Which country made the best movies this year? As a presenter for the 2016 shnit International Short Film Festival, I’m excited to enable a community of world cinema lovers in Philadelphia to come together and have a voice in deciding the answer to that question. Sharing in this awesome communal experience of watching films together is Carlos Pardo, a local photographer and teacher.

He is the cultural enrichment and education facility manager at Taller Puertorriqueño, a non-profit organization that works to elevate and preserve Latino culture through events such as art-education programs, socially conscious art exhibitions and book readings. Pardo, who has traveled to Colombis, Mexico, Veneuela, Chile and the Caribbean, recently welcomed the opportunity to discuss his transnational experiences and most anticipated films in the shnit CINEMAS lineup for Philly.

Here is my full Q&A with the newlywed artist who also wants to go to Europe, France, Italy, India, Thailand and Japan.

Carlo Pardo at Taller PuertorriqueñoMadlab Post: What kind of adventures or challenges did you experience while traveling abroad?

Carlos Pardo: Probably not having currency or a way to get around.

MP: How many languages do you speak?

CP: Spanish and English. I would like to learn French.

MP: Is film a universal language?

CP: [Film] is a visual art and like all art most people are able to understand it, even if you don’t like it.

MP: Which film in the shnit Cinemas lineup for Philly interests you the most?

CP: ОЧЕНЬ ОДИНОКИЙ ПЕТУХ (Very Lonely Cock), El Corredor (The Runner) and Bon Voyage.

The shnit International Short Film Festival selection 'Bon Voyage' is about Swiss sailors who encounter a sinking refugee boat while on their holiday cruise.Very Lonely Cock because when you use drawing to say what you want to say, most of the time you can say it in a different way; El Corridor, because it is part of life and I’m interested in seeing what happens; and the Bon Voyage one because of the way the world is….we wish we could help everyone but when we get to see the world for what it is right now, it’s harder to give up your freedom for someone else.

MP: Can you describe one of your favorite foreign movies?

CP: British probably, very romantic and inventive.

MP:  What is one of your favorite foods from another country or culture?

CP: Pupusas from El Salvador, or Pho, Vietnamese.

MP: What is special about Taller Puertorriqueño's after-school program?

CP: We have a great dancing group and some pretty good film makers.

Taller Puertorriqueño's new building, the El Corazón Cultural Center, is slated to open December 2016.MP: Can you share any upcoming activities that Taller Puertorriqueño has in store for locals and travelers visiting Philadelphia in 2016?

CP: A Thanksgiving for the community and the grand opening of our new building on December.

Join me in expressing thanks to Carlos Pardo for discussing the, food and culture with me!

Seats are limited for the exclusive, one-time screening of the 2016 shnit International Short Film Festival selection at 3PM this weekend (Saturday, October 15th) in Philadelphia, PA.

Men and women in the City of Brotherly Love can now GET TICKETS to see some of the world’s best films!