Getting Back to Emerging Filmmakers at the Little

It's been a long time, but I got a note about The Emerging Filmmakers Series at The Little (240 East Ave.) so I decided to go check it out.

Starting out was With Love, Marty by Jack Kyser in which Kyser plays the central character: a college-age man desperate for the affection of a specific woman. I found his presentation to be brutally honest from all angles — I know from experience how it is to desperately desire someone, and to resort to honest, direct means that work only to sabotage any possible relationship. It touches on the way you can fool yourself into thinking the mental picture you have of someone is the true picture of jem (when, in fact, all representations of other people in your mind are simply reflections of yourself — they are, ultimately, you.)

61 Years by Holly Rodricks is a documentary about her grandmother and grandfather's tumultuous relationship at the end of his life. It was a beautiful and moving piece about life and death, wishes and realities. It starts out with Rodrick's grandmother insisting that her grandfather has been punishing her for her entire life for marrying against their parents wishes (they are Indian, and got married in defiance of their destined, prearranged marriage). Meanwhile, her grandfather is quietly dying — the fragile shell of a once brash and bold man. But under all the outward complaints, and aside from the dutiful commitment to one another, lies real compassion and tenderness.

The Breakfast by Tanya Schiller was a curious, subtly humorous piece that simply followed the interactions of four people eating breakfast at a bed-and-breakfast.

Closing out was American Bomber: The John William Hidell Story by Eric Trenkamp. It's a faux-documentary about the "first American suicide bomber" — it uses the talking-heads model of documentary making to create a story about a man who lashes out — literally self-destructively — at those he feels are a threat. It works nearly perfectly with only a few minor problems that tip off that it can't possibly be for real. But interestingly, in being so near perfect, what would it take to make a perfect fake documentary?

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Emerging Filmmakers Program #43

Ali and I went to The Little (240 East Ave.) for The Emerging Filmmakers Series. I got confirmation that The High Falls Film Festival is taking over The Rochester/High Falls International Film Festival, "Movies on a Shoestring", giving the amalgam festival a suitably clumsy title and changing from the November dates of High Falls to the May dates of the Shoestring festival. I'm concerned that the short films will get sidelined just as they are at High Falls even though I gather that this would have been Shoestring's 50th year. It would be nice if High Falls at least kept the short film screenings donations-only in the spirit of Shoestring.

Anyway, the short films tonight were quite good. It's too bad the Little puts so little effort into promoting the shows … there were barely 10 people in attendance.

A couple documentaries stood out this month. First, The Sacred Food by Jack Pettibone Riccobono was a well-done documentary about (quoting from the flyer) "the Ojibwe tribe in Northern Minnesota and the wild rice, manoomin, that they consider a sacred gift from the Creator and are trying to keep wild". It was interesting to see the response of tradition to modern issues like genetic modification. Scorza Bros by M. P. Mann was a fascinating documentary about a man who works in East Rochester as a taxidermist — for the last 60-some years — and how he accepts but can't quite reconcile that he's unwilling to kill an animal on his own.

Among the narratives, You Can Run by Jason J. CrossMySpace link was a good (althought — at times — it was poorly acted, filmed, directed, and audio-recorded) albeit a heavy-handed film about alcoholism and the dangers in ignoring your heart about it.

The show concluded with "Three Short Stories" by Sean Mullin. In the first, The 14th Morning, a soldier tries to reconcile an error in judgment on the battlefield. Next was Man is a Bridge where "a National Guard Captain spends his days guarding Manhattan's 59th Street Bridge from terrorist attacks and his nights performing stand-up comedy." It was a powerful look at a man who could easily be superficially dismissed by everyone he knows, but our god's-eye view gives us the full picture. Finally, Sadiq is about a couple American soldiers trying to transport a detainee, but one of them is trying to be fight his need to care and the other is fighting his frustration. In the end, tensions build to a head and the one soldiers tries to get the prisoner to confess to his crime — but neither understand the other's language.

All three were particularly excellent films. They were gritty, lifelike, and empathetic. Ali said that she was once again glad she came.

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