From horror to drama to animated comedies, the 2013 Short Film Showcase at the Fringe Festival was filled with the finest cutting-edge films guaranteed to produce tears, laughs and everything in between. Cinema KC, a not-for-profit organization that strives to act as a connection between the film community and movie lovers, sponsored the showcase. For only five dollars plus a signature Fringe button, audience members are given the first look at the phenomenal works of 13 local filmmakers.
The presentation began with a trailer from the independent project by director Gary Huggins, “Kick Me” set to be released this fall. The film was funded by Kickstarter, a private company that helps raise funds for creative projects. “Kick Me” raised more than $70,000 and received 366 backers.
The second short, “Appleseed Cast Video” by Christopher Good features the post-rock band, The Appleseed Cast. Instead of producing a stereotypical music video for their song “Great Lake Derelict,” the band and Good decided to create a short film based off newspaper jockeys pursuing their dreams.
“I guess the story was just inspired by the music, just trying to put something together where the moments in and emotions portrayed by the story reflected what I felt during each part of the song,” Good said. “But then once I thought of the idea of the paperboys, I just got excited about it and about certain sequences that I thought could be a part of the video.”
“Unspoken” by Broadie Rush followed and came across as the most unusual film of the showcase. The animated film focused on haunting music and dark images eluding to the end times on the band Kylesa’s recently released album, “Ultraviolet.” The images were creepy and odd, but the film quality shined through to create an extraordinary piece of art. The short film may not be entertaining for the general audience, but is definitely enjoyable for any filmmaking protégé .
The next film, “Fill Up Pour Out” by Marc Havener was filmed documentary style and beautifully portrayed individuals in medicine who truly want to make a difference. The film showcased The Heartland Community Health Center, a non-profit health clinic located in Lawrence, Kan. Jon Stewart, director of the clinic, spent the most time on camera along with nurses and other employees.
The short film festival truly began to reach greatness when “Vindicate” by Patrick Rea entered the screen. Part of the Withered World web series, this segment shows a distraught man who is dealing with the death of his family and possible murder charges. Without seeing the full video, this clip comes across as confusing, but strong emotions are triggered early on. Within the first shot, Rea allows the audience to feel the situation without needing any more information.
“Bird and Fish” by Ann Mendenhall was another very creative take on the world. In her animated film, the planet is separated by the dry and wet, as if the sky was replaced by another world filled with water. The short is extremely entertaining, regardless of film guru status.
The next film, “Martini Lunch” by Nathan Kincaid features former Kansas City mayor, Charles Wheeler, in a political anecdote. The film is confusing for those unaware of the city during that time period, but the political references still ring true.
“The Field” by Turner Baietto created emotions similar to those seen in “Vindicate,” considering it is also part of the Withering World project, but the drama is increased exponentially. This piece tells a beautiful story of love and loss as one husband deals with the death of his long-term wife. The film is shot beautifully and showcases Baietto’s talents to the fullest. Each blade of grass expresses an emotion as he intrinsically films the field where dramatic incidents unfold.
“The Rest of Her” by Jennifer and Tim Friend is a quirky comedy that shows an interesting take on the jigsaw puzzle. The character in the film buys a “Build a Girl” puzzle from a thrift shop when he’s shocked to see her come to life. The twist: she’s missing one piece.
“Nighty Night,” a horror film by Todd Norris is a suspenseful story of a boy’s search for his teddy bear. At first, the film comes across as a sweet tale of a boy attempting to sleep. That is until his mom takes away his teddy bear. In his search to rescue the bear, it falls down the laundry shoot and beneath lurks an oddly creepy snake with an attached witch hand. That may not be the technical definition, but for a low budget film, that’s a pretty accurate description. The film is scary only in the fact that audience members do not expect to be scared and therefore scream out of entertainment.
“Rwanda” by Trevor Hawkins is a beautiful and comedic film about a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Africa. Complete with striking images, entertaining natives and a signature directorial style, Hawkins does a brilliant job of beautifying African culture.
“The Icarus 1” by Anthony Ladesich is the third short film presented from the Withered World series. The film shows a small boy escaping from his violent parents by building a spaceship. Although unrealistic, the film is charming and entertaining.
The final film in the showcase, “State of the Union” by Bruce Branit is almost too good to be independently funded. Featuring stunning visual effects, the film shows an unusual take on the end of the world. As the world is ending, the President attempts to film a State of the Union address by showing his own alien abduction. The film is beautifully done and leaves audience members amazed by Branit’s exceptional effects and techniques.
The remaining showings of the Short Film Showcase will take place July 25 at 6:00 p.m. and July 27 at 9:30 pm. Both showing will be at the Screenland Crown Center Theater and are followed by questions to the filmmakers.
Image Credit: A shot from ‘State Of The Union’ – by Bruce Branit