Getting ‘Shorts and to the Point’
Published: Friday, March 09, 2012
By Jaime Ferris
While Hollywood was all abuzz about its golden night at the Academy Awards, glitzing and glamming up for the red carpet, members of the Brookfield Arts Commission and its film committee were hard at work adding the finishing touches to the fourth annual Brookfield Film Festival: Shorts and to the Point. Drawing film enthusiasts from the Housatonic River Valley, western Connecticut and beyond, this film festival celebrates short films often overshadowed by their feature-length counterparts
But as Brookfield Arts Commission chairman Mary Daniel pointed out, “I think our audiences will find our program a little edgier. We choose films that we hope demonstrate the punch that short films can deliver.”
This year’s film festival will be held March 30 and 31, featuring an anthology of short films that have been nominated for or received awards from other industry competitions and festivals, such as the Manhattan Short Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and the Academy Awards.
Films will be showcased in three screenings, beginning at 8 p.m. Friday night, and at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts, located at 182 Whisconier Road. (Route 25) in Brookfield.
“The Brookfield Film Festival was created to cultivate an appreciation for quality filmmaking and to provide screening opportunities for local audiences to view unique and entertaining films from around the world,” Ms. Daniel explained. “I had a hunch I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about short films—you rarely have the opportunity to see them in this neck of the woods.”
With the help of other cinemaholics and a grant awarded to the Brookfield Arts Commission, Ms. Daniel created the Brookfield Film Festival to cultivate an appreciation for independent filmmaking. More to the point, the festival, subtitled “Shorts and to the Point,” provides a screening opportunity for residents to view short films they would not ordinarily see. And unlike other film festivals, it is not a competition. Rather, it is all about enjoying the best of short film.
“We applied for the grant with the intention of starting a film festival … and felt it would be a great opportunity to bring the art of shorts to the community’s attention, as opposed to many of the film festivals in the area that are more a competition for the filmmakers. We saw it as an opportunity to invite people to come and enjoy a genre of film rarely seen or celebrated [in mainstream cinema].”
The film festival consists of a carefully selected arrangement of the most notable short films of the year, both live-action and animated short productions from around the world. The festival’s only criteria: Films must have been nominated for or received awards at leading film festivals or industry competitions, such as the Manhattan Short Film Festival, the Academy Awards, or the Sundance Film Festival, among others.
“We’ve gone to film festivals and have previewed dozens of films for the Brookfield Film Festival and we’ve tried to select a pool that will interest all viewers in the community,” Ms. Daniel said. “Each of the films chosen … is thought-provoking and something that will leave a taste in the viewer’s mouth—a little food for thought.”
While she admitted the 12-member film committee identified the film pool early on, they were still finishing the festival’s lineup the last week of February and wanted to keep a few titles quiet to maintain a sense of suspense.
“We have pulled together a collection of short films we feel are the best,” she guaranteed. “It is truly a program of award-winning films and a nice break from the competitions out there. We are dedicated to choosing the best, the newest and the freshest short films on the circuit.”
Among the films to be featured is “David and Goliath,” a live-action American film by George Zaverdas that won the Gold Medal at the 2011 Manhattan Short Film Festival. Based on the true story of resistance fighter David Bako and set in 1943 Czechoslovakia, it tells the tale of David, a Jew running for his life from Nazi soldiers on the hunt. He finds sanctuary at a nearby farmhouse, where he hides in a doghouse protected by a vicious German shepherd, who, film literature notes, “ultimately becomes his savior.”
Also on tap is Australian film “DIK,” the Silver Medal winner at the 2011 Manhattan Short Film Festival by Christopher Stollery. It is the story of “a 6-year-old boy [who] brings home a piece of schoolwork that provokes his parents to question his sexual orientation, and their own, with disastrous yet hilarious results,” a release says.
There is “Delusions in Modern Primitivism,” a 2001 Sundance Film Festival Honorable Mention that the film committee has wanted to screen for years, but hadn’t been able to until now.
“It’s an interesting film about body art that is quite provocative,” Ms. Daniel noted.
“Delusions in Modern Primitivism” is a “mockumentary” about a man named Jerome, “a living gallery of body art,” who has grown bored with his tattoos and body piercings, and is on the hunt for the latest form of body modification.
More recent is “Pentecost,” a 2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Short Film (Live Action), and 2012 Academy Award winner “The Shore,” two live action films from Ireland. “Pentecost” focuses on a young aspiring footballer who faces a very difficult decision when he is forced to serve as altar boy for a very important mass. “The Shore,” from northern Ireland, revolves around two boyhood friends who have been estranged for 25 years until a daughter reunites them with unexpected results.
Other films include Neil LaBute’s “The Tailor,” the Official Selection at Newport Beach Film Festival and Los Angeles Comedy Festival that reveals what happens when culture and confusion collide on a street in Brooklyn; and “Time Freak,” Andrew Bowler’s 2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Short Film (Live Action) about an overanxious inventor who builds a time machine—but gets stuck traveling around yesterday.
In the animated category are two 2012 Academy Award nominees for Best Short Film (Animated), one of which took home the Oscar: Enrico Casarosa’s “La Luna,” a coming-of-age story about a boy who goes out one night to work with his father and grandfather on the open seas, and William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg’s Academy Award-winning film, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” The latter is described as “Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and a love for books … a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story.”
“We’re really excited about this year’s lineup,” Ms. Daniel said with a smile.
More films are to be announced in March.
In addition to the films, the Brookfield Film Festival also features “A Production Challenge,” a comprehensive workshop on the fundamentals of digital video production taught by Dr. J.C. Barone from Western Connecticut State University March 19 and 20. According to Ms. Daniel, it is an interactive, hands-on workshop that focuses on the production process, film and video aesthetics, lighting, sound and art direction, video formats, post production/editing, and exporting to the web and DVD. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to create their own three-minute short films. The fee is $25.
“It’s a great opportunity for individuals and nonprofit organizations to take advantage of,” Ms. Daniel said. “The workshop was initially geared toward students, but Dr. Barone has opened it up to organizations that would like to develop a PSA. They will learn everything from producing to getting the short out there.
“The Brookfield Film Festival is a great art event for the community and for the local economy—everything going into the festival goes right back to the community,” Ms. Daniel confirmed. “Since it began, people have really wanted to become a part of it and are so dedicated and enthusiastic. It’s really a labor of love.”
The Brookfield Film Festival is not rated and is intended for an adult audience. Admission is $10; refreshments will be served during intermission. For more information about the 2012 Brookfield Film Festival or the workshop, visit www.brookfieldartscommission.org. To receive more information about the workshop, contact Ray Dori at firstname.lastname@example.org. For ticket reservations, available through March 29, call 203-775-2895, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.brookfieldartscommission.org