HollyShorts has returned to in-person screenings, and for those who weren’t able to visit live, there is still an excellent slate of films to check out on BitPix! Due in part to the exciting return to cinemas, BitPix has a supersized entry this month, with two major sets of screenings to enjoy! With around two dozen films to check out this month, it will be a treat to get to enjoy work from so many excellent creators. So without any further delay, here’s what we have in store for this month! Be sure to check these films out for yourself as they screen from March 30th to April 3rd, only on BitPix!
Okay Google – Sam Lucas Smith and Troy Smith’s comedy about a rogue virtual assistant is a fun and wild ride. Written by Sam Lucas Smith, who also stars alongside Rebecca Black and Samuel David, brings the idea of a technological singularity on its head in a wonderfully fun way, as it brings the more modern idea of virtual assistants and AI technology and allows it to be used as a tool for comedy. Great work by everyone involved, especially Black as the voice of the AI assistant.
The Gray – There are so many ways that the afterlife had been envisioned, but this may be one of the more interesting ones. The concept of purgatory as something akin to the DMV isn’t unheard of, but using that as the backdrop for an incredible touching father and son story isn’t a direction that’s been seen often. Caesar James plays a father whose been processing those who’ve passed away in Purgatory, and is committed to continuing into he finds his young son (Nand Mahasuwan) in the line to be processed. It’s a beautiful story that takes some turns but is satisfying throughout.
Cabin For Two – Sam Hoiland brings us a compelling film starring Pancho Morris that sees a single man living through the aftermath of the end of the world and just looking for someone to love. To that end, he makes a dating video to show off what he’s been able to accomplish and his ideal traits in a partner. Throughout, Morris is vulnerable and funny, bringing some heart to the apocalypse.
Axe To The Face – A film by Andrew Moorehead and written by Moorehead and star Reid Prebenda, this film focuses on the burgeoning relationship between Dylan, a reclusive actor, and Anna, a young woman who meets Dylan on a dating app. As the two strike up a heated bond, it becomes more and more apparent that things aren’t what they seem. An excellent short thriller, Prebenda and Freja Zeuthen are great together, really building the tension and suspense as they share the screen. It’s a fantastic film that shouldn’t be missed.
Her Majesty – Written and starring Carmela Corbett and directed by Rebekah Fortune, this film focuses on a woman living in another time, in another life, and in another world. Suffering from mental illness, she believes herself to be a young royal, preparing to give a very important speech. Bolstered by the young Billy, who helps her along, Her Majesty delivers to a mostly ambivalent and sparse crowd, but the support of the young man leaves her undeterred. Without pulling back too much of the plot, this film brings a lot to the idea of giving care to those with mental health issues, to the elderly and to assisting those in need. Her Majesty’s speech encapsulates that best of all, regardless of the original orator. Barbara Marten, Fflyn Edwards and Corbett are all brilliant in this film, bringing powerful story to important topics.
Undercut – The subject of trauma, especially those that are difficult to share, can be a challenging experience. This film, by Kelly Pike, really highlights that as an injury to field hockey player Emmy (Johnny Sequoyah reveals impropriety from the doctor helping with the team. It’s only through sharing that trauma with Kiesha (Jasmin Savoy Brown) that Emmy is able to find any sort of solace in what’s happened. It’s a tough film to watch, but an important one that highlights something so many undeserving young women are forced to experience.
Important Police Shit – Andrew Betzer brings a difficult film to the screening as this piece chronicles the most challenging day for a group of police cadets as they are mercilessly hazed and tormented by their training officers. As the film progresses, we see more and more instances of this hazing, as they are put through the ringer; being forced to experience a taser, made to watch instances of police violence, as well as being mentally and physically pushed to their limits. It’s a hard film to watch, but that seems to be the point as these tactics show the progression of what police departments view as required training, highlighting the differences in methodology between male and female cadets, as well as how new officers are trained to think and respond, something that has been scrutinized more and more. The film doesn’t seem to take a side on this debate, instead allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions, something that really resonates and makes for a thoughtful and provocative piece.
At Last – Coming out can be difficult, especially for younger people, but writer/ director Lorena Gordon has delivered a wonderful coming of age story about a young woman embracing who she is when she attends her prom. Katie Burton delivers an excellent performance, surrounded by an excellent cast that includes Zack Gottsagen, Marlene Forte and George Lopez. Stories like this are so important to helping others this age know that it’s okay to embrace yourself as you are, and this film does an excellent job of that.
Superheroes – An Easterseals Disability Challenge film, this short film focuses on interviews with various people who have superpowers, discussing how they got them and how heroic individuals come in all races, shapes, sizes and disabilities. It’s very fun, and directors Grace Kelly and Samantha Hyde (who both co-wrote the film) do an excellent job of allowing the actors to have a good time with the premise while still spreading an important message about the true capabilities of those who disabilities and the things they face, with or without superpowers.
Roomates – Another excellent Easterseals film, this Jennifer Msumba film explores the relationship between Jennifer (played by Msumba) and her dog Lemonade (played by Lemonade the Dog and voiced by Kari Velguth) after Jennifer builds a translator to help understand Lemonade better. This allows Lemonade to speak, and the film interviews the two of them about what they’ve learned about one another after this breakthrough. It’s silly and wonderful, with a fun take of this kind of concept.
Neurodiverse – Scott Klumb brings us a terrific entry with this piece, which is another great submission from the Easterseals Disability Challenge. Scott, who is autistic, and partner Erin, who is neurotypical, show a day in the life of the couple. While each experience can bring its own pitfalls, the two communicate well, whether it be about breaking a routine or if the noise of an activity is a factor. Klumb, who wrote the piece with Erin Dupuis, do an excellent job of showing a relationship between two people who are different in how their minds work, but put in the effort to make their lives successful.
The MARS Experiment – The hits keep coming from the Easterseals Disability Challenge, as Lori Saux and her family bring us a film of the search for love and acceptance as a family is sent to help bring about a new world on Mars. Matthew (Stephen Saux) Audrey (Lori), Rachel (Sophia Saux) and Sam (Liam Saux) describe their life on Mars and its difficulties, but their overall goal in the experiment. It’s a very fun and heartwarming film that continues the excellence that the Easterseals Disability Challenge has always brought.
Gerald Ford’s Millions – Writer and director Nick Lane delivers on a wonderfully fun mockumentary, focusing on the heiress to the Ritz Crackers fortune, Lady Francis Marlborough. Living insularly for years, the Lady has finally given permission for a documentary crew to speak with her, as well as her beleaguered butler, Oliver, who is responsible for the care of her and her beloved dog, Gerald Ford. When it is revealed that upon her passing, Gerald Ford is poised to inherit her assets, Oliver is forced to reckon with this news, as well as the unforseen circumstances of his life and what it would then mean. It’s a very fun film, with Paul Walling giving an excellent performance alongside Nancy Berggren and the very good Mickey Pope as Gerald Ford themselves.
Papi – A touching and wonderful film, this piece sees filmmaker Gabriela Ortega celebrate her father in a way that shows him just as he is. A loving, adventurous man who wants to be free and happy. It’s heartwarming to see Ortega and her father explore and see things together, and it feels like a perfect tribute to a person she obviously loves so much.
Ashes – Writer/director Edith Rodriguez brings us a heartbreaking but beautiful film about love and loss, starring Olivia Tovar and Michael Cooper, Jr. As Kayla remembers an important summer in her past, she relives the experiences of that time in her life, especially with Joshua. As we go down this road with her, we see the passion they have for each other, the moments of joy they experience, and feel the emptiness of loss as we find why Kayla is bringing these moments up at all. Cooper and Tovar are wonderful, with Tovar bringing such an emotionally impactful performance to the film. It hurts a bit to watch, but it also cathartic, as a good film that tackles these subjects should be.
Five Minutes – Jesse LaTourette stars in a powerful film, written and directed by Christine Khalafian that focuses on Sara, a woman who is given five minutes to run an errand by a person in their life that seems to be very controlling. During this five minute errand, Sara attempts to find a way to contact others, hoping to find a way to get themselves into a better place. Each moment of this film, whose runtime is actually five minutes, is more tense than the last. As Sara continues to attempt to find someone who will allow them to use their phone, the panic escalates. This is a great example of showing how relationships like these really feel, how difficult they can be to escape, and how few chances can really be given to change how things are.
Resist: The Resistance Survival Chorus – Susan O’Brien’s documentary stars and focuses on the Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of women and non-binary people who use music to help heal a divided world and empower others through song. Using music to create a movement and to sing songs of protest is such a powerful and heart-warming thing, using that pain and marginalization to create change and keep hope alive. The women and non-binary people in this chorus are doing inspiring work, and the beauty of what they’re doing is a joy to see and experience through this film.
Avery – Christine Wood brings us an eclectic and elegant film that shows the journey for Avery (played by Wood) as she goes through a personal journey. After seeing a play performed by Luca (Peter Mark), Margaux (A’raelle Flynn-Bolden) and Mariel (Maggie McGovern), she finds herself desperately attracted Luca, though not in the way she initially believed. As Avery figures out her feelings, she finds that she wants something much more significant. It’s a beautiful trans narrative that shines brightly throughout the film, and is so incredible to watch.
The Big Shave 2.0 – A remake of the Martin Scorsese short, it focuses on the genocide of Black men, instead of as a protest of the Vietnam War, as Scorsese originally intended. It’s a powerful film, bringing the metaphor of the killing of Black men into the forefront. Directors Cutty and Kobina deGraft Johnson do excellent work here, with Cutty also serving as writer. Lead actor Mc Jay brings so much strength and nuance to the role as well, leading to an extraordinary film.
Streamline – Memory is a tough concept, both as an idea and in execution. Memories can be shaped and distorted, traumas can be altered to help shield pain, and while some memories can nearly disappear, others will never leave. Memory is the theme of this Dan Marcus film, which he wrote alongside David Hammond and William Coffey. With Joel Rietsma, Cheryl Graeff, Bruce Edwin Moore and Jaiden Hidalgo starring, this film shows the flexibility of memory as last traumas are bright to the forefront for a man, all while he’s being chased by a mysterious entity. It’s a wildly interesting film that brings some truly fascinating concepts to it, making it one of the standouts of the screening.
That’ll do it for this month! Thanks to all of the creators and crew who made all of these wonderful films, and to those who have helped make this return to in-person viewing possible. For those who couldn’t make it to the event or who wanted to see the films again, be sure to check out this month’s screening from March 30th to April 3rd, only on BitPix!