by Keith Barber

Carolina Film and Video Festival set apart

The bass line of “Big Band,” an instrumental by the group Babylon Motorhome, shook the seats inside the Elliott Student Center auditorium on the campus of UNCG on the third night of the 30 th annual Carolina Film and Video Festival last Friday. At least three forms of animation filled the movie screen as Venezuelan director Daniel Calvo’s experimental short film highlighted a touch of international flavor and the broad diversity of films at this year’s student-run film festival. True to its mission, however, the festival showcased local talent. UNCG student filmmakers and North Carolina filmmakers played a very prominent role at the 2009 festival, said festival codirector Cara Clark. Festivalgoers experienced the entire gamut of independent films from well-crafted short dramatic films like “Interpretation,” to experimental films like “Big Band,” to Hollywood-inspired narratives like Remarkable Power! This year’s festival also featured outstanding foreign student films like “The Road to Tel Aviv” by Isreali film student Khen Shalem and “KH 1” by South Korean high school student Youn Kim. UNCG film students submitted a total of five films to this year’s event, and they found themselves in good company. Nicole Triche and Jason Brown were two of the UNCG students who had films screened at this year’s festival. Brown, a recent graduate from the school’s MFA film and video production program, said the biggest draw for CFVF every year is the high caliber of films submitted by emerging filmmakers. Triche, a former director of the festival, said there’s nothing quite like the supportive atmosphere of the festival to give a filmmaker the encouragement they need to keep going and continue pushing the boundaries of the medium. Brown’s “Them That Work,” a behind-the-scenes look at the making of John Sayles film Matewan and Triche’s “Bars & Tone Experiment” both competed in the UNCG Student Showcase category. Clark attributed the event’s success to the efforts of student volunteers. She explained that UNCG students performed the daunting task of screening the more than 250 films submitted by filmmakers from all over the world. Students rated films on a scale of 1 to 10 before the programming committee decided on the 33 films that were included in this year’s slate of films. Clark praised the student efforts that made the four-day festival, which included nearly 50 screenings and four film workshops, a big success. On Saturday, the festival held its awards program at Carousel Luxury Cinemas in Greensboro. Festival judges Carrie Lynn Certa, the 2007 winner of the festival’s script competition, and YES! Weekly’s own Brian Clarey did not have an easy task picking the best from this year’s crop of films. Edward Tyndall served as this year’s screenplay judge. Lukas Hassel, a New York actor and filmmaker, won for his script entitled Girls on the Run. The North Carolina Filmmaker award went to Nathan Benzer for his 18minute short, “Altar,” which tells the story of a janitor who reexamines his life when a toilet becomes possessed. Honorable mention in that category went to Joshua Gibson’s feature documentary, The Siamese Connection, which chronicles the annual family reunion of the descendants of the original Siamese twins, Eng and Chang Bunker, in Surry County. Tyndall won the UNCG Student Showcase award for his short film entitled “Sadie’s Waltz.” The Independent Narrative Short award went to director Lin Oeding for “Interpretation,” a taut, 8-minute action film about a different take on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Honorable mention in the category went to Richard Gale’s, “The Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon,” a spoof of the horror film genre. Jason Sokoloff won the best narrative short award for his film, “Mr. Brooklyn,” while Brandon Beckner’s Remarkable Power! seized top honors in the feature-length narrative category. Erick Oh’s “Symphony” won the Experimental/Animation short film category. The Best Documentary award went to Bestor Cram and Judy Richardson for their film, Scarred Justice, which chronicled the story of the three South Carolina State students shot and killed by highway patrolmen during an on-campus protest in 1968. In the high school category, South Korea’s Youn Kim won for “KH1,” the story of a teenager who crosses the line with his father. Honorable mention in the category went to Gabrielle Lui for her film “Sweet Seduction.” Screenplay competition winner Lukas Hassel made the trip from New York to revel in creative synergy inspired by the four-day festival. Hassel said he’s produced a few short films to build his director résumé but with Girls on the Run, a feature about three elderly women who escape an assisted living facility to seek out the ghost of Rudolph Valentino, he hopes to produce a quality film with A-list talent. Hope sprung eternal for new filmmakers during the 2009 edition of the festival, and that’s the thing that should ensure the festival’s future success, Brown said. “If you want to make a movie here, you can make it here,” Brown said. “Independent films bring independent vision and supporting local filmmakers means seeing more original films at the cineplex.”

Lukas Hassel (far left) won the screenplay competition at the 30annual Carolina Film and Video Festival held last week at UNCG.Directors Nicole Triche (center) and Jason Brown had their films incompetition as part of the UNCG Student Showcase category at lastweek’s festival. (Photo by Keith T. Barber)