Jacksonville 2009 Film Festival

This past Saturday, I decided to donate a small amount of coin to the Nuts on the Road cause. That coin would have been ear marked to go see Star Trek or something. It is not like I am a cheap person and yes I can donate and see a film, but in the true sense of donations giving it should come as a small sacrifice of some sort to help others. (Widge's note: Thank you, Rox! Mwaaa!) After listening to the afternoon edition of Nuts on the Road and seeing the new addition to the Technocave secret hideout I ventured out to my Five Points to run an errand or two.

I stopped at a store that is right next to our newly renovated 5 Points Theatre. There was a crowd milling about as a feature film from Jacksonville's 2009 Film Festival was getting out. Living in a small section of Jacksonville in the historic area of Riverside Avondale area is pretty much like a small town where one runs into folk you know all the time. Today was no exception. I chatted with an acquaintance I know who was very gracious in giving me a screening pass for the Saturday Bloody Saturday Horror Short Films screening. What goes around comes around. I gave a gift in good faith and through some good karma I was given a ticket for a movie showing. So I did not miss out on a movie night. Wheel of Fortune if you like.

Saturday Bloody Saturday presented five short horror or suspense films that have been making the Independent Film Festival Circuit late last year and this year. The five that were shown were very original and of exceptional quality. These films may not make to your cineplex in the near future but they may show up on channels such as IFC and Sundance. The writers and directors of these short films may become the writers and directors of tomorrow's feature length films. Many of these films are shot on a very small budget with always an unknown cast., this obstacle does not detract the film makers from creating suspenseful films. These are films you should seek out in the future.

1. Page Turner


Directed by Oliver Pearce
Running Time: 15 minutes

While a young couple, Jonathan and Lisa, are out on a date, they stumble upon a night time yard sale. Who wouldn't stop to take a gander at that? A strange gypsy-like woman selling her curiosities of the odd, sells a photo album that she claims who help the young woman find the right man for her. She says this as her boyfriend is making covert eye contact to another female purveyor of the nocturnal yard sale. (I wish there were a few of these in my neighborhood.) Before the couple buys the photo book, Nichola, the gypsy woman, takes a picture of the couple and places into the front of the album. As the couple enters Jonathan's apartment for a bit of dessert, Lisa starts to flip through the book as Jonathan gets wine from the Kitchen. It shows pictures of Jonathan and Lisa as a couple, going on vacation, then married, and then the book shows Lisa events that change her life and the way she sees herself and men all from the helpful gypsy like woman and the mysterious book.

For such as short film the production quality was very high. Instead of the director going through an action sequence for the more violent aspects of the film he chose to create still vignettes that were very effective in this story telling of a mysterious photo album.

2. The Gynecologist


Directed by Alfonse Camarero
Running Time: 10 Minutes
Spanish language with subtitles.

A very harried female gynecologist does not take kindly to her next patient...who is a male. She believes this is a joke and refuses to offer assistance to this young man. The boy goes over the gynecologist's head by talking to the supervisor and then the director. At one point the boy comes in with his father demanding that the gynecologist examines his daughter. The young man at one point calls him "mama." This strange conspiracy goes up through the chain of command when those in charge make the gynecologist examine this patient in front of them.

This is one of those black humor horror flick that would make anyone laugh and cringe at the same time. Below is a trailer of this film. NSFW, be advised.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

3. The Straight and Narrow

Directed by Tim Sigur
Running Time: 25 minutes

Set in rural Texas, two brothers are on two different paths in life. Pat Embry must make the decision to either return to his wife and young child and his brother Derrick who had watched over them as his own...or the violence and drugs that landed him in jail.

This is a taught story of Derrick and Pat as they embark on trying to head home. Derrick sees the type of person that Pat has become as Pat makes one stop after another stalling in his efforts in returning to his wife. These little stops along the way allow Derrick to decide for his brother.

Not a true horror flick, but one of suspense in allowing the viewer to conjure up the true horrors that could happen if Pat decides one way or the other. The pacing was good for such a short film. If this was a longer film the detours that the two men take would bog the film down.

You can find the trailer here.

4. Scissu

Directed by Tom Bewilogua
Running Time: 25 minutes
From Hamburg, Germany: German language with English subtitles.

A non-linear story of a drug-addicted couple and a very lonely cop with a penchant for keeping his gun near him at some inappropriate times.

The camera work captures the drug-addled world of the couple looking for their next fix and to what lengths they would go to get it. The cop on the other hand uses his authoritative power to get what he wants from the drug addicts in his precinct.

With the story being non-linear there is a break down of space, time and reality. The camera angles and sound editing give the audience a sense of broken reality in trying to piece together the events that bring three people together in a tragic ending.

Here's the trailer (NSFW):

Direct link for the feedreaders.

5. The Clearing

Directed by Jack Gastelbondo
Running Time: 10 minutes
From Colorado, USA

A tight sci-fi story of a dystopian future where everyone has been implanted with microchips that censor their thoughts. One man tries to decipher words his wife had left on a photograph that he finds in a drawer. The storytelling is quick-paced and has the suspense it needs to carry the film to its
conclusion.

This short film reminds me of some of the early short story work of Ray Bradbury.

But see it for yourself. You can watch it in its entirety here:

Direct link for the feedreaders.