Friday, July 14, 2017

Split Ticket

In his 2011 non-fiction book, Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America, MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews writes about an encounter between two future U.S. presidents during a trip to Pennsylvania. The anecdote stoked the imagination of award-winning screenwriter and director Alfred Thomas Catalfo, who added a supernatural twist and created Split Ticket, a superbly directed short film reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.

Once upon a time, two rivals from different parties heading back to Washington after a debate settled a dispute in a collegial and good-spirited way—by drawing straws. Some observers of the current scene would say this plot element also belongs in The Twilight Zone. Despite the irony, tension runs high in this mind-bending thriller.

You can watch the trailer here: Split Ticket Trailer

In Good Faith

A graduate of New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus who also holds an Excellence in Achievement Award from Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, student filmmaker Casey Hempel is a local talent done good. A devout Christian with an interfaith sensibility, she makes full use of her education, beliefs and hard-won craft in this faith-based story of love.

In her film, a couple with differing faiths and ethnic backgrounds becomes engaged, and while the bride-to-be's mother is over the moon with excitement, his parents, having lived most of their lives in the old country are, shall we say, less optimistic about the union. What is a happy young woman to do when her future in-laws are so resistant to her despite her most heartfelt efforts to win their affections?

Find out by watching this lighthearted and modern interpretation of an age-old theme. You can watch the trailer here: In Good Faith Trailer

Reconquista

Occupied Spain, 2064. The great religions of the world are in open warfare. One brave imam has seen enough and wants to break the cycle of violence, but to do so he needs safe passage to Rome, where he will deliver a message to the Pope.

This is the intriguing premise for Reconquista, a short film adaptation of New Hope Film Festival's 2016 Best Action Thriller Script award winner. Writer and director George Reese is an entrepreneur returning to film and television after a 23-year hiatus. Too many filmmakers wait their entire lives for the Big Break that never comes instead of making their dreams happen. As today's filmmakers know, modern technology makes it increasingly possible to produce and distribute a quality film on a modest budget.

A hiring manager might not look at Reese's resume and peg him for directing a film, and that is the point. He hired himself, placing due value on a Kellogg School of Management education, a business background and early experience in Los Angeles as a production assistant, camera operator and editor.

In an era when even the best career is not completely secure, hiring yourself isn't such a far-fetched idea. You can watch the trailer here: Reconquista Trailer

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Fabric of Time

Produced for the Boston 48 Hour Film Project, Fabric of Time exemplifies the intrepid spirit of independent filmmaking. Director Sean Foy refers to the experience of making this short as "quite a challenge," and his assertion is beyond dispute. What is quite jarring, however, is the outright quality of his team's result. Producing a film in two days is one kind of accomplishment, but producing one worthy of a film festival screening is an altogether different achievement.

Foy's excellent script has the creativity and tightness one expects from projects that take months, if not years, to carry from start to finish. Co-writers Carlos Aravena, Tedros Haile, Bridget Douillette, Geoff Pennington, Katelyn Willis and Leigh Willis deserve high praise for their ability to deliver so much in so little time, and put together a cohesive throughline with a team of five screenwriters. Cinematically, the film exceeds the 48 hour norm by a country mile.

Time travel and a stable don't normally coexist in one film, but Fabric of Time is all about crafting a work in an unexpected, interesting and odds-defying way. You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion is advised): Fabric of Time Trailer

The Love Song of Charlie Beecher

Charlie is a decent guy, but he's painfully shy, and the latter trait dooms him to the fringes of his high school class—not exactly the ideal resume for asking pretty, popular Kate to the prom. To complicate matters further, class jock Bobby has designs on her, too.

How can Charlie find the mojo he needs to ask out Kate when her expected rejection would assuredly plunge his self-image to new depths? It won't be his pals because, truth be told, he travels in his own orbit. No, he will need to remain true to his personality. Rather than fight his introversion, he must channel it, and for someone who spends a good portion of his life with his nose buried in books, the key to success might just lie within a poem. T. S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock suffered from a similar, debilitating complex, and Charlie will search for his path forward in this literary mirror.

What girl worth having wouldn't love his newfound, poetic heart, after all? And assuredly, if he is indeed the poetic type, he can find the words he needs to ask his crush for a date. The formula is set, but will the two connect, or will Bobby prove he's the more suitable man by taking the risk first?

This delightful and inspiring short by student filmmaker Kyle Hammersmith might leave you reaching for your 20th century anthology. You can watch the trailer here: The Love Song of Charlie Beecher Trailer

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ward

Student director Zack Williams has something to say in Ward, an involving story about a freshman in college who suddenly finds herself committed to a psychiatric unit. The young woman's problems with anxiety and depression are excruciating. At the same time, other college-aged patients on her floor are dealing with even scarier issues. Trapped in an agonizing environment, she wants to heal and go home, but first she'll need to sort through the many crosscurrents in her mind.

Mental illness has long carried a stigma, and that's tragic because the many people who suffer from it are, in fact, not substantially different from anyone whose illness centers around an organ; in this case, that organ is the brain. Williams does an excellent job of dramatizing the psychological tension that must accompany anyone who has been committed to a mental institution, and by presenting his story through actors who reveal different layers of problems in their roles, he subtly suggests that everyone struggles with mental illness on one scale or another. You can watch the trailer here: Ward Trailer

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Of Knights and Slaves

First dates are nerve-wracking experiences for teens, but parents are hardly immune from the jitters. Such is the setup for Of Knights and Slaves, a short dramedy that might leave you nodding from personal experience.

Director Adam Carr zeros in on a father's reluctance to accept his daughter's emerging maturity while also highlighting her date's lack of couth. Honking your car horn from the driveway instead of ringing the doorbell and introducing yourself to the parents is not the best way for a young man to make a first impression. The father feels he can artfully handle his daughter's date, having once been on the other side of the equation, but there is a decided lack of confidence in the air.

Independent films often explore unfamiliar territory, so it can be refreshing when a filmmaker creates something with a more universal spirit—especially when you're not quite sure how the story will play out. You can watch the trailer here: Of Knights and Slaves Trailer