The 2014 Shawna Shea Film Festival is history. Film festivals are a lot of work for people who put them on. I hope Skip Shea is resting up. He deserves it.
A film festival is not just the work of the organizer. Moviemakers get to show the results of their labors. It’s a triumph when it all comes together.
Skip did an excellent job with the lineup, and it is unfair that there is not enough time and space to highlight all the movies.
Dealing with loss was a theme of several entrants.
Monae’s Room is the story of the loss of a breakup. Monae has lost the guy and is not getting over it. She calls him, but he does not answer and she talks to him even though he does not hear. Through it all, she finally is strong enough that when he does call, she is over it. Raeshelle Cooke won the Newcomer Award and we’ll see more by her.
Always a Reason by Chris Esper was next. Don Tempesta as Grandpa is about to end his life. Loss has left him without reason to live. The phone rings and will he pick it up? If he does, he will have his raison d’être. Don and Chris Goodwin who plays Timmy the grandson are compelling in around three minutes.
Slow Burn is another dealing with loss film. Revenge is on the mind of the murdered child’s dad. Revenge will happen, but the father will not have stained his soul with homicide. Steven Martin won Best New England award. His was a wonderful use of guerrilla filmmaking technique, some invented by himself.
William J. Stribling’s Lies I Told My Little Sister is a family with issues not the least the death of a beloved sister. Over a week on Cape Cod the family comes together, well, as much as they can. Lies won Best Film and the audience award. Ellen Foley received best actress.
The winners for horror short were Demon Deep in Oklahoma and Silk. In Demon Katie is beset by a nocturnal fiend and brother Wes is there as an anchor through her nights of hell. Wes’ friend Tommy arrives. Tommy upsets whatever fragile equilibrium exists. Silk is the story of greed and over thinking. A would be power couple are entrusted with a silk weaving spider that is of vast worth. Instead of using it for the cause, they think it is the ticket to a great future. The spider doesn’t.
There was fun and pathos in the Foreign Block. Butterfly Fluttering is about a woman’s exploration of men and women. With her libido it is hard to figure out how she had time to eat or sleep. In the end, she too suffers loss, with regeneration.
Butterfly tied for Best Foreign with Pegah Arzi’s Silence. Silence takes place on a day in Teheran. A young boy has his heart set on a camera and works delivering pirated DVDs around the city. The movie takes us on a tour of daily life in Iran’s capital. By the end of his day, he falls asleep with the money and when he wakes, the daily inflation has caused the price of the camera to exceed what he has.
The feature film Complicity was high school social life at its most tragic. Students party hardy until someone is accused of rape. The football stud had a bad game and is surfeited with anger. His righteous indignation leads to the death of the implicated boy. Most of his friends care about their golden futures more than justice and the others go along under peer pressure. C.B. Harding won for Best Director.
Local horror moviemaker Izzy Lee got Best Short for her Picket where the versatile Diana Porter got killed by a demon. Izzy also got best Female Filmmaker award.
Sean Carmichael won Best Actor. He was in Alight and Cyclic so the judges got to see enough of him to judge fairly. Alight also won for Best Short, directed by Paul Speziale. In Alight, Sean and Kati Salowsky are not feeling the love during a power outage.
Jessica Sonneborn’s Feature Alice D won Best Horror. In a famous Brothel a woman who had been forced into prostitution takes revenge on her oppressor. The family heir takes over the house, but does one think it is not haunted? Death and mayhem ensue.
Best Documentary went to Raising Matty Christian. Unfortunately, due to some technical issues, only the judges got to see it. Christian De Rezendes made this movie from family movies about a son whose life struggle was more struggle than most of us will ever have.
Other movies that were shown, but were not competing were Gregory Velez and Skip’s Out of the Night and The Actor featuring David Graziano. I had seen both before and they are still a delight to watch.
We have been waiting a long time for Jason Miller’s The Loudest Sound. It will premiere in December, but the trailer was shown on Saturday night.
So in two days, Skip put up a considerable body of work. It was more than a bit of effort, but in the worthy cause of supporting a scholarship in honor of the independent spirit of his late daughter. Over three years, the festival has grown from just shorts screened in exurban Massachusetts to include features in the great Somerville Theater. We await what will happen next year.
The awards ceremony was held in the adjoining Museum of Bad Art (a venue that met all my expectations). Watch the video of it and that, with wisdom from Gregory Velez is embedded in the article.
See you next year.