This month’s HollyShorts Bi-Monthly Screening is here, with another great line-up of short films to check out. The creators behind these amazing projects are some of the up and comers in the industry, and these films are perfect to showcase their talents. As a part of the screenings, BitPix will be showing these terrific films from May 13th to May 16th on the BitPix platform, starting at 3 P.M. PST. This month’s selections are:
The Initiation: The first film is someone’s career is really special, and writer/director Amir Youssef (with Alba Roland Mejia serving as co-writer) gets the opportunity to show off their talents with this project, which is a fantastic drama that brings a unique perspective. In this we get to follow a young man named Pedro as he finishes the steps to becoming a member of The Vessel, a street group that takes him in as a member of the family. As part of his initiation, Pedro, as a graffiti artist, leaves his mark throughout the city, and it’s these marks that are followed, telling a story through images to David, an unhomed man who is following this journey through the tags made by this struggling young man. The dual perspectives of this film are interesting, as we track the life of Pedro as he attempts to find stability in the form of The Vessel, while we also see David, watching the journey form afar through the street art of Pedro. It’s a beautiful film that really hones in on the what people in areas like this can go through; how they struggle, fall back on violence and posturing to make it through. How they do things that they would never think of in moments of true pressure and struggle. Heartbreaking in its own way, this film is nonetheless a stark reminder of how unforgiving the world can be, and how each decision inside it can impact the your world. The cast of Christopher Batres, Carlos Miguel Mendoza, Asiana Weddington, Pancho Lopez Jr and David Castaneda really deliver on this hard-hitting story.
It’s Not Just You: During the time of the Covid Pandemic, many people have experienced issues with their mental health, in myriad ways. That’s the subject of this film, one that really puts the damage this event has wrought in perspective. The dangers of what’s happening in the world has done so much to so many, and this film puts it front and center as we watch someone attempt to cope with the world as it’s become, for better and for mostly worse. It was an incredible performance by Tommee May, who in the film’s short runtime delivered some incredible emotional nuance, as well as an excellent directorial effort by Jessica Hester. It’s not long, but this film sure leaves quite an impact.
Murder 101: An old college rumor fulfills the premise of this short film by Brandon Tamburri, bringing back a myth that’s been making its way through the world for quite some time now. There’s been stories told that there is one way to guarantee yourself a 4.0 GPA in college, and that’s if your roommate passes away during your time living with them. That grief will grant you perfect grades and a way to make it through college, living with that loss. It would especially help if, say, you were failing and needed a quick way to get your grades up. Using this logic, a college student decides to test this rumor by trying to ensure his roommate meets that tragic end. It’s a fun and dark comedy that has a great cast of Matt Tamburri, Anthony Moore, Jack McCafferty and Kate Silk. This was a very entertaining short to watch.
Open: Sarah Nocquet brings forth a unique and fascinating story of an eerily picturesque community, a woman convinced to be put under hypnosis, and the perils of taking the idea of conforming too seriously. The film is extremely interesting, evoking the ideals expecting mothers are “supposed” to do to properly raise their child, something that should be the choice of the mother themselves, though outside forces always seem to let their opinions be known. With Sandra Leclercq and Julie Reifers taking center stage, this is a fascinating and very enlightening film about what is usually a very delicate and complicated subject, with some evocative imagery shown throughout.
Sotto Vocce: Putting a new spin on the Odd Couple, Regina Melzer, with writer Jette Newell (who both star), bring a modern, female fronted take to the old dynamic in this film. It tells the story of the Ingrid, a snobbish and difficult boss and Caroline, the assistant who, despite her best efforts, isn’t exactly doing what is needed for her demanding boss. Ingrid, having to deal with the quirks of her employee. It’s a fun and touching piece that definitely evokes that feeling of watching a pair of people who are very different come together to form an unlikely duo. While only a few minutes long, Melzer and Newell manage to make great use of that time, bringing a lot of laughs to this project.
Hello From Taiwan: This beautiful film from Tiffany Frances focuses on a young girl of Taiwanese-American heritage as she and her mother attempt to rekindle their connection with their family. Having spent time apart in different cultures, the young girl and her sisters undergo a bit of a difficult adjustment period as they begin to find their place in their new family dynamic. There’s a familiarity to this for anyone whose grown up with siblings, especially in multi-household families. Despite the differing cultures, having to build a connection with an estranged or new family member is something that many can identify with, which I think is what helps this story so interesting. The cast shows that all cultures have something they can find common ground with, even situations that are difficult at times. Brandilyn Cheah, Barney Cheng, Janet Hsieh, Lydia Lin and Kyra Lin come together to create a strong, all-Asian feature cast that is so unfortunately uncommon in American filmmaking. It’s wonderful to see how great their chemistry is together as a family in this film.
Loop: With a premise that can almost feel like it’s been ripped from the headlines, this sci-fi film from Stuart Langfield is a look into what the field of AI could look like in the next few years. A reclusive tech CEO, looking to make progress in this part of the industry, begins to take on the task of teaching an AI what it’s like to truly feel and process human emotions, something that has been one of the things that truly separates humans from machines. This is a haunting film that has so much tension in it that it’s nearly palpable. The dynamics here are so intense and fascinating, with the small cast really delivering on the goal of showing off the dangers that come with trying to bring something like this into the world. Not that the act itself is an inherent danger, but that the process that must be done to achieve it. Michael J. Rogers, Valeria Polishchuk and Tatenda Hatugari all really bring their best work to this film, which comes full force by the end and really leaves an interesting impression after watching it (though, to truly live up to its name, watch it again immediately after the first viewing for some extra punch).
Accomplice: Matthew Berg’s latest film is a wonderful drama that has an really unique premise. With Todd Cattell in the leading role as Tennessee Martin, a man who, after a major accident, get a partial brain transplant, this movie starts as a slow build, with the audience trying to figure out how everything happened along with him. This build begins early, as memories from the donor begin to flood Martin’s mind, presenting themselves as his own memories, with the thoughts contained within the donor brain still imprinted on it, and now, mingling with those of Martin. These two opposing mental states combine, causing a mass of confusion and pain for him, as well as for the donor’s wife, Saraiah, who has found herself in the hospital room of the man with part of her husband’s brain. This film is impressive, with Cattell doing an excellent job of playing an almost dual role. The later twist gives this film some extra impact as well, paying off what was already a brilliantly made drama. The supporting cast adds so much to the film as well, with Stefanie Estes playing Saraiah, Theo Bongani Ndyalvane as the donor, Ray, and Don Baldaramos as the doctor who performed the surgery. Excellent piece through and through, adding a unique twist to this kind of story.
Cut: Inspired by the real life story of writer/director Sofie Somoroff’s grandmother, this film takes place in a home for unwed mothers, a place that wasn’t well known for their treatment of the mothers they were taking care of. But in this home, they go a step further, as these unwed mothers, after giving birth, are subjected to a treatment that takes their memories, putting them on film, leaving them with no recollection as they are then sent out into the world. It’s this film of memories that creates the premise for the story, as Ava, a young expecting mother finds out about this process when she sees it happening to her friend Sam after Sam gives birth. With this knowledge, Ava goes about trying to save her friend’s memories, in any way she can. It’s a tragic and touching story, seeing the treatment these women went though and the challenges they faced afterwards. The stealing of memories serving as a stand-in for the memories of a child they may never get to see, touch or speak to. This film has such a depth of emotion to it, evoking so much sadness and joy, hope and hopelessness all at once.
Be Still: Tommy Snider, playing triple threat as writer, director and star of this film, brings an incredible journey of a man trying to figure out what’s happened to him. After finding himself alone in the perilous woods, he attempts to find out what has happened to him and why, facing pitfalls and finding clues about how he got there along the way. The idea of being stuck alone in the forest, with no idea how or why, is a terrifying concept, and that kind of frustration and fear is evoked so well by Snider. Joining him in are the rest of the main cast; Amanda Paddock, Jerad Beattie and Jake Beattie, all of which are wearing multiple hats to bring this film to life. It’s also worth noting the atmosphere of this film, as the terrific score by Gregori Chad Petree really adds layers to the project. It’s a desolate and tense film, and one that should really be paid close attention during this screening.
Thanks to all of the amazing filmmakers for sharing their work, and congratulations to them for their selections to this month’s screenings! They all truly delivered, and you can check out this incredible set of films from May 13th to 16th, only on BitPix.