Everything is really beginning to roll as this year progresses, with a dozen films slated for this month’s HollyShorts screenings. This month features some incredibly dynamic films, all brilliant in their own way. Airing from April 8th-11th on BitPix, this month’s selections are sure to make an impact with viewers. For this month’s HollyShorts screening, we have:
Once Beautiful Woman: A piece of a larger whole, “Once Beautiful Woman” is one episode of a comedy series focused on Grace Greene, an actress who despite being in the limelight for a short time, has flamed out and is looking to reignite her career. Now wondering how much of it is worth it, Grace has to go through quite a bit just to get herself back to a place where she can attempt to bring her flailing career back to life. Created by and starring Victoria Vertuga with Franklin Guerrero Jr. directing, it sees Grace auditioning for the titular role of the episode, only for there to be a miscommunication for her to deal with along the way. Vertuga is wonderful as Grace, bringing tons of comedy to each moment of the show. If this episode is any indication, this is going to a treat for comedy fans to give a look.
Ghosted: This short is a wonderful look into some of the metaphorical terms we use for people, especially when it comes to relationships as Joseph D. Reitman’s Edwin, a man literally haunted by his past, falls in love with Alyssa Suede’s Stacy, a woman lugging around quite a bit of her own baggage. Using common film and relationship tropes as fodder is brilliant, funny and sweet at moments, eliciting all of the rigors of relationships both fruitful and less so. With a literal ghost of loves lost (Elizabeth Anweis) complicating their relationship and a narrator that prefaces many of their statements (Jim Meskimen), this is a delightful work of art. So simple in its execution, but done so well by Reitman, Suede and the rest of the cast, as well as by writer/director Tracie Laymon.
Vest: After an outburst, young Ali decides the only way out of his situation is to run away. This proves to be more complicated than it seems, as the boy gets caught up in a situation where he is believed to be someone else. Writer and director Samir Mallal brings us a wonderful film that shows ingrained bias of others, the unique dynamics of parental relationships and how something so simple can be seen as so many different things, especially when information is sparse or miscommunicated. With Afraz Hussain leading the way as Ali, this film has a terrific cast, with Sarah Syed, Annika Whiston and Badr Luqman adding their talents to the project, among several other very skilled actors.
The List: Part mystery, part coming of age story, this film focuses on a group of young boys in Nigeria who are put on a list of troublesome students after their return from a day out and away from school. When they return, they find out that someone has informed on them about what they’ve done, and the group of boys begin their hunt to find out if this list is real, and who decided to rat them out. It’s a really fascinating film, blending African culture, locations and people while adding a bit of a western investigation vibe. Director/writer Goga Clay (who also wrote the short story this film was based on) brought a lot to this film, and it was really fun to watch as this story developed and got more and more complex for these young men looking to find out who snitched about their day out to get them in trouble. The ensemble cast was also excellent, with Emeka Nwagbaraocha, Mike Afolarin, Riyo David, Richard Bolkale Onadeko, Phillips Francis and Kalu George all coming together for an excellent piece of art.
Evenfall: One of the darker films on the slate for this month’s screening, writer/director Dean Butler gives us a supernatural thriller starring himself, Gemma Cavoli, Mariah O’Dea, James Broadhurst, Zack Inglis, Allyce Ananda and Lucia Tennant. When a detective’s daughter goes missing, Jack, a widower with supernatural abilities does what he can to help, though the burden of this service weighs heavily on him. As Jack uses his abilities to help, dark forces continue to attempt to thwart him in order to keep the girl in their evil grips. It’s a dark but exciting movie that doesn’t let up, and feels so much bigger than its quarter-hour runtime, bringing thrilling moments every step of the way.
In The Basement There’s Some Money: Gianluca Randazzo’s thrilling film, which they wrote with Jake Wells (who also stars) focuses on one of the more complicated aspects of losing a loved one: what they’ve left behind. Beyond the heartbreak of losing someone in your life, the tangible items they impart upon the world after their demise can become quite a fierce topic, as three cousins of different socioeconomic statues come to find out. Along with Wells are Joseph Cordaro and Lauren Hines, all of whom share great chemistry playing the family members attempting to split the funds given to them upon the death of their grandfather. It an interesting bottle film that shows the difference money can make when you don’t have any, and how little it can matter when you do. The wealth gap is on full display in this film, and executed brilliantly, especially in moments where it’s one side against the other in a struggle for control. Films like this, that use something very real to explain something very conceptual and put it on display are gems that only come along every once in awhile.
All The Way To The Top: Joelene Crnogorac gives us a glimpse into her web series with this selection, as we follow four actresses as they chase the dream of making it big in Hollywood. With Kelly Frye, Allie Leonard, Michelle Lukes and Maddie McCormick making up the core ensemble cast, this is a hilarious look at some of the wild and ridiculous things that happen in the world of television and commercials. All four actresses are brilliant in the silliness of the pilot episode, bringing so much comedy into a few short minutes. Although it’s only the pilot of the series, this looks to be a wonderful show that has so much comedic potential.
We Choose To Go: Writer and director Marlene Emilia Rios gives us a beautiful sci-fi short that focuses on regret and the understanding of finality. Onboard the Horizon, astronaut Angie is hit by a sudden realization as she awakens from her cryogenically frozen sleep pod: that it’s been sixty years since she went into her cryosleep, and she is the sole survivor of a mission gone critically wrong. As she deals with an error that has kept her on ice for over half a century, Angie must deal with her choice to leave Earth and everything that remained on it during her journey, as well as what to do now that she’s found herself in this situation. Starring Sarah Flower and featuring Carl Briedis and Jamie Forrest, this is a lonely and heartbreaking film that also delivers a very satisfying experience, carried almost wholly by Flower and the powerful story by Rios.
Rottweiler: This terrific drama, directed and co-written by Jonny Powell, along with J.P. Gifford, focuses on Sophia, a woman in love whose boyfriend has just been released from prison. Unfortunately, there is more than meets the eye with her partner, as he seems to have accrued some debt in his time behind bars. With Ellie Ekers and Luke Aquilina starring, this pair does an amazing job together, building a very tight dynamic between them as things continue to get more and more complex. This film shows how hard it can be for those who go into the prison system, especially when options are limited upon release, with so much happening both inside and outside the system that things are immediately a challenge for both the person incarcerated and their loved ones.
Now You See Us: Based on the play Boom” by Barbara Miluski (who also stars in this adaptation), writer/director Romina Schwedler gives us the delightful and bittersweet journey of two actresses who have been a bit overlooked by society and their industry due to their age. Still attempting to find work, these two find themselves at odds with one another as they both attempt to land the role in a television commercial while struggling with the knowledge that the world has passed them by, developing their own bond while they wait for their chance to get the part. Joining Miluski is Caroline Ryburn, both of whom are just incredible in these roles. Both of them play perfectly off one another, delivering some great visual gags as well as some hilarious lines, while also making a statement about being a “woman of a certain age” and the pitfalls that comes with it.
Duality: By far the shortest of the selection from this grouping of films, Duality more than lives up to its under three minute runtime by being one of the more beautifully shot films in recent memory. The landscapes and environments are absolutely stunning, with a terrific accompanying score. While the film is mostly just an ambient journey through some incredible looking places, there feels like there is so much more to it. And technically there is, as the film suggests in the credits to rotate nd watch the film again, as the dueling landscapes flip, giving the film an entirely different perspective. While there is little in the way of runtime, there is so much to see in this film, and creator Craig Murley does an excellent job of really putting the meaning of the film’s title to good use.
The Nine Billion Names Of God: God has many names, and this film explores the search for all of them as director Dominique Filhol shows us the story of a monk, two westerners and a computer, all tasked with finding a way to list every name of the holiest being in the world. Set in 1957 New York, this film shows an incredible journey of dedication, faith and the meld between the spiritual and the technological. Bringing this at the time cutting edge technology to do such a spiritual task has its own sort of beauty, even when the shadow of doubt creeps in. This is a monumentally interesting film, with a concept that is wholly unique. Bringing in themes both ancient and modern, fears and beliefs that are new and old, all of them converging into this tremendous project.
That’s it for this set of films, but there will always be even more incredible selections on the way. For access to this group of amazing films, visit BitPix for more information and tickets to the screening.