The 10th edition of deadCENTER is just ONE WEEK AWAY. The drone of festival buzz is in the air. Anticipation can barely be contained. Hyperbole abounds. Since I’ll be seeing a ton of films starting in just one week, I decided to keep it short and sweet this week as I look back at last year’s festival. There were plenty of great feature films that screened last year. My two favorite features happened to be documentaries, the wonderful Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo from Bradley Beesley and the Best Documentary Feature winner Official Rejection. Both definitely worth checking out. But, I’m sticking with short films in this final recap. The short film programs are often your best bet. You can pack in a bunch of movies in a short period of time. And if you happen to run across a not-so-good one, you only have to wait a few minutes for something else to start playing. Luckily, there are more than enough real gems to be found as well. For this week, I looked back at SAFE, Hit Boys II Men, Whore, The SPAM Job, and Miracle Investigators.
– A nice Okie short that came out of Living Art’s 2009 24-Hour Video Race
contest. A curious kid tries to see what is locked away in his neighbor’s safe. Given the limitations of the video contest, the film is nicely done with a fair amount of restraint. Good camera work. Not too wordy. But certainly very promising. The two young filmmakers, Bunee Tomlinson and Jackson Fall are also bringing a couple of films to this year’s festival as part of the Kids’ Fest shorts program–Mom’s Favorite Vase
and Without a Doubt
–which will screen Friday and Saturday mornings at the downtown library.
This 5-minute short film is available on Vimeo
Hit Boys II Men
– Another Okie short from the ubiquitous Singletree Productions
. Mark Potts, Cole Selix, and Brand Rackley deliver a funny dark comedy about desire, redemption, and…MURDER. On the one hand, it emits an honest vibe of three friends sitting around the house, goofing around, and just deciding to make a movie. It looks like they’re all having a blast. On the other hand, it happens to be well crafted, quite funny and eminently watchable. Stone’s (Potts) delayed reaction to drinking the raw eggs makes me laugh every time. The Singletree crew was also responsible for the very hilarious Hard Justice
promo videos before each screening at the 2009 festival. This year they return with the feature Simmons on Vinyl
and the short The Bedazzler
This 20-minute short film is available online
Whore – Screened during the Midnight Shorts program, this 22-minute short film from Prarthana Mohan follows Wendy’s awkward high school experience. Wendy (the excellent Corina Boettger) is a former home-schooled student who both fears and is fascinated by the sexuality around her. As the bullies encroach, she must come to terms with her own sexuality while figuring out who are her real friends. The director is respectful of the female lead, her religious home-school background, and her dysfunctional family. These depictions are tempered, seeming more honest than exploitative.
The SPAM Job – This 12-minute short film directed by Padraic Culham follows a stolen can of SPAM in a story of international mystery. This “documentary” follows the multitude of evidence that surrounds the theft of the aforementioned meat-like product. The filmmakers play it so straight that in between all of the laughs you almost begin to actually care about the eventual outcome of the investigation.
Miracle Investigators – My favorite short film from the 2009 festival. This 13-minute comedy short from Jeremy Dehn certainly delivers on the laughs. The movie has to contain two of the most quotable and hilarious lines of dialogue from any deadCENTER film past or present: “I’ve been pretty New Testament with you up to now, want to see me go Old?” and “I gave up ass-kicking for Lent/But it’s not Lent/I know.” The movie also very competently alludes to old cop shows and kung fu movies. I could watch this one ALL day.
Next Wednesday: The 10th Annual deadCENTER Film Festival begins!!!