For the second time this month, it’s time to view a slate of excellent films for the HollyShorts Monthly Screenings! Twice a month, BitPix and HollyShorts aims to shine a spotlight on a selection of short films from some of the rising stars in the medium. This month’s choices are some of the most talked-about and well-regarded short films out there currently, and it’s a delight to share them with everyone. This group of a dozen wonderful films will be available through BitPix from April 22nd through the 25th, starting at 3 p.m. PST. The selections for this installment of the HollyShorts Monthly Screening are:
Ruby Rose – From Director Charlie McCabe comes the touching story of a man rediscovering how to be happy after the death of a loved one, with a bit of help from an unexpected source. It’s a very sweet film, as a young child takes the forlorn Fred on a journey through the memories of his beloved, allowing him to recapture that joy, no matter how brief it is. Roger Jorgensen and Caitlin Henderson are both wonderful during the short runtime of the film, especially given their near complete inexperience acting (it was a first for both, as well as first time in the chair for McCabe). With some great animation and a powerful story, this is very heartfelt story worth watching.
Pozole – A film by Jessica Mendez Siqueiros, this film focuses on Maia, a mixed-raced Latina woman, looking to connect with her Mexican roots. As her Nana celebrates hitting the century mark and everything goes wrong during the party, Maia finds herself feeling othered from the traditionally Mexican side of her family. It’s a dark but very funny way to express this feeling, especially of people of mixed race, adding Mexican culture and completely capturing the outsider’s perspective, especially when it comes to family. With Ana Isabel Dow and Monica Sanchez starring, along with an incredible cast of Latin actors, this is a delightful film that really shows the familiar bond, as well as how much they can change over time.
Fake – Ben Grund delivers a wonderful coming of age story as an Asian American teen attempts to get some alcohol for a party. While this type of story is a classic in terms of American cinema, adding in the dynamics of not only feeling like an awkward teen, but also having to deal with the social dynamics of growing up in Asian culture as well gives this a unique twist. Penned by Grund, the film also stars Charlie Mai, Zoe Charlie Gillette, Zoe Del Giudice, Clay Westman, Jee Heng Liao and Patrick Heraghty. It was really enjoyable, as well as a fascinating commentary dealing with stereotypes and the assumptions some have against people of other races and cultures.
Coupled – Jandres Burgos and Emma Fazzuoli star in this pilot episode of the web series that shows the life of a millennial couple as they attempt to share their lives in Los Angeles. It’s a wonderfully funny show that has a lot of promise. After seeing this first episode, there’s no doubt that this show should appeal to many, as it handles all the trappings of living in a city like L.A., adding some very fun situations. Coupled is a terrific modern series that should fit in well with the genre. Created by Fazzuoli and Adam Hutsell, this is a short but hilarious addition to the slate that you won’t want to miss.
Inferno – When aspiring lawyer and recent graduate Tommy finds himself launched into the job market and desperate to get his career rolling after a huge mistake, he takes an interview at a law firm with a bit of an ethics issue. As he begins to figure out what he’s gotten himself into, Tommy’s altruistic values continually clash with the underbelly of a law firm that specializes in divorce and family law. It’s dark, but has a lot of humor within those very bleak concepts. As the tour of his new potential employment continues, things continue to get more and more dubious, making it more difficult as time goes on. There’s so much to this, and it’s wildly fascinating to see the inner-workings of a place like this, even in a fictional setting. There’s also a tremendous cast, with Josh Bywater in the lead, with David Pasquesi, John Lister, Adam Wesley Brown, Leslie Murphy, Aja Wiltshire and a host of other incredible talents adding their talents to the project. Written and directed by Wendy Roderweiss, with additional writing from Michael O’Brien, this selection is viewed as a pilot for a larger project, and if this is any indication to the quality of Inferno, this is going to be very popular.
Trick Of The Old Cat – Starring Eden Knodel, Mark Heron, Andres Vega and Brandon Anthony, this fantasy film focuses on a day in the life of a guardian angel, shown from the perspective of the grizzled veteran and the bright-eyed rookie. Played kind of like a buddy cop dynamic with some twists, this drama takes a unique look at the job of those who are meant to look out for others, and the things they do to prevent those in the realm of mortals from taking steps down the wrong path. This is a very interesting concept that is really well explored, with a great job done by writer and director Eugene Khazin.
Sila (The Adventures Of) – Jeff Brownell’s fantastical celebration of Latin culture and the pulp aesthetics of the Jazz Age is one of the more interesting films on this month’s panel, as it blends imagination with music, making for a beautiful and creative landscape where so much happens, both real and imagined. There is so much to this movie, as it evokes the jazz age aesthetic in a way that lends itself beautifully to the story. It’s gorgeously shot, brilliantly acted by the terrific cast of Naya Guzman, Sean Connolly Affleck, Pedro Salvin, Olunike Adeliyi and Cindy Sampson in ensemble roles (though, the story certainly revolved around Guzman’s Sila). Its a love letter to an era with a flair that nothing of this sort has really figured out yet, making it a wonderfully unique and fascinating film.
Sound – After a car accident, a photographer partially loses their hearing, forcing them to re-understand sound and everything that comes with it, along with their new impairment. This struggle is central to Tawan Bazemore’s film, which they wrote and directed. Helping Bazemore complete this terrific film are Crystal Porter-Bazemore, who is playing the lead character Isabelle Pisano, as well as Jennifer Althen Beacham. All of the hype that has come to this film, as well as all of the awards, are well-deserved, because this is a wild ride that doesn’t always go wher you expect it to, but certainly pays off.
Breaking News – Cary Anderson delivers a wildly interesting film that shows the story of a reporter, looking to get ahead as he meets a psychic who offers to help him get breaking news that will allow him to bolster his career. An animated piece, to an extent, this film uses still images, along with voiceover, to tell the story. It’s such a unique way of giving viewers a visual narrative, and it works perfectly for what is being told here. Eliseu Gouveia, the illustrator for this piece, deserves a massive shoutout for their work on this, as do the voice actors; Rex Anderson, Dan Deluca, Melissa O’Brien, Bob Fajkowski and Dan Franko. A fascinating story with striking images, this is one of the more captivating films of this screening.
The Restrictor – Writer/Director Jade Aksnes brings to this screening a Norwegian film that focuses on a resource scarcity that is so important that excessive use is punished. As this resource, happiness, is doled out via a monthly allotment of liquid joy, the punishment for overuse is made more and more extreme, leading to some tough choices. This is a harrowing look at a future where even joy is strictly monitored, with dire consequences for those who don’t obey those restrictions. The thought of that is a chilling one, but executed very well by the cast. With Olaf Heggdal, Beate Rostin and Julian Aksnes as the featured cast, this is an extremely well executed film that evokes a lot of emotions in a thoughtful way.
$trip – A young exotic dancer experiences her first opportunity with a very special cliente in this risque but fascinating film. It takes an odd turn part of the way through, bringing a bit of a thrill to this already wild experience. The seedy underbelly of this profession gets even darker as this dancer has to bare all, and then some to get the most from her new clients. This is a very graphic film, but an interesting one that really speaks to the culture of this profession and the toll it takes on those within it. Major accolades go to the cast, especially star Yuwi Kim and her co-star, Jenna Macari. Writer/director Craig Ouellette really brought something interesting to the table on this one, and will be one of the more talked about films in this screening.
This was a terrific slate of films, each of which stand out in their own way. Make sure to see for yourself, as this installment of the HollyShorts Monthly Screening runs from April 22nd -25th, only on BitPix.