As we roll in through the year, we get another slate of fantastic films to display for this month’s screenings. As we move back into regular screenings both in person and online at BitPix, we get an even larger selection of films on display for this month! Nearly two dozen films in total are being shown off this month, and so without further delay, here are the selections for the April HollyShorts screening! They will be available online from April 27th to May 1st, only on BitPix!
Danni & May – Julianne Dowler writes, directs and stars, alongside Amy Benedict in this story about a woman struggling to care for her mother, who is dealing with a fight of her own against a condition that leaves her an invalid. To deal with this painful and difficult circumstance, Danni finds her own form of release, one that helps relieve the pressure but brings its own pitfalls. The harm Danni causes herself is not uncommon in people, but as this film shows, it’s also not helpful in the long run. This film is really powerful, showing the impressive lengths people will go to care for those they love, and the price it costs to be able to do that. Danni and May really runs through a plethora of emotions, making it an incredibly statisfying experience.
Bobby – Henry Burge brings us a unique crime thriller with some impressive fight scenes, as the owner of a small diner is forced to deal with a family issue. With only 24 hours to find them, Charlie must navigate the seedy underground of Los Angeles to get a debt paid and a family member rescued. Burge also stars in this film, along with Anthony Skordi and Siri Miller. It’s a gritty, dark film that really hits the mark for what makes a fantastic action film.
21st and Colonial – Writers Toby Osborne and Angelo Reyes (who also directs) bring us an impactful crime drama that brings Omar (Ogden Buck), a young, black man trying to support his pregnant partner into the path of Carlos (Reyes), a police officer. The film shows how they’re different, but also how similar they are in a way that ends in the way that so many of these interactions do in real life. This film is a bit hard to watch, but it’s also so important to showcase, as interactions of this nature are far too common, and tend to end in unnecessary violence and pain. Buck and Reyes really show the disparities between how people in law enforcement are seen versus how so many people of color are treated, judged before they can even make a case for themselves for how they should be approached and treated.
Girl Night Stand: Chapter 2 – Jenna Laurenzo writes, directs and stars (alongside Meryl Jones Williams) in this wonderful web series that focuses on the sporadic, but passionate, relationship between Katie (Laurenzo) and Sarah (Williams). In the first chapter, the two met and had a night of romance, much to the surprise of Katie, to which this kind of interaction isn’t commonplace. In this second chapter, it’s Katie who makes the first move, navigating the ongoing pandemic to see one another. It’s beautiful to see queer romances get the spotlight, and Laurenzo and Williams have wonderful chemistry, bringing fun into a challenging circumstance and letting their relationship blossom in a wonderful way.
Fruitless – Robyn Paris stars as Rachel, an over 40 woman trying to have a baby in any way she can in this film that she also wrote and directed. Her journey to finding what she’s been looking for leads her to making some impressive choices as she goes to great lengths to become part of a group of new and expecting mothers that gather outside her window. This is a wild and darkly funny film that really shows off the acting range of Paris, who does an incredible job playing this desperate woman. As we see that Rachel will do whatever it takes to get what she wants, we also find out a bit of why she’s willing to go to these lengths. It’s a fantastic piece, and one of the highlights of the screening.
Joey – Written by Jessica Hinkson and directed by Hinkson and Laura Nordin, this fantastical film shows the inner workings of the mind of Joey (Lucie Guest), a bride to be on her wedding day. But as the future of married life is about to become the present, Joey finds herself doubting her wants and desires, all of which play out through her own subconscious. This is a wildy entertaining film that is definitely its own unique form of story-telling. Every actor gives their full commitment to the moments of absurdity, and the film is so much better for it.
2nd Act: Danny J. Gomez – This short documentary is part of the Easterseals Disability Challenge, and is another wonderful entry from the group. Focusing on Danny Gomez, who directed the film with F. Carl Hansen, the documentary takes us through the life of Gomez, as he goes from able bodied party boy with little direction to a disabled actor with much more joy and motivation in his life. The film uses some impressive camera work to highlight the different sagas of Gomez’s life, and the story of Gomez himself in an inspiring one, of a man who took a tough situation and is making the best of it in the hopes of realizing his dream.
In Dependence – The second Easterseals film, this film is brought to us by Patrick Ivison, along with partner Kimberlee Holland. The short documentary shines light on an important topic for people living with disabilities that need assistance: money. The healthcare system for the disabled is a tightrope walk, as the threshold for qualifying for assisted care from the government means that those living with disabilities have to meet an income ceiling to qualify, and exceeding that can mean a loss of care that would be far too costly for them to remain financially stable on. Ivison lays things out incredibly clearly, giving a face and a voice to a topic that absolutely needs to be talked about more for important change to be made.
The Shift – Writer/director Jade Tailor brings us one of the most impressive pandemic-related films currently out there, as she brings a star-studded cast to a story less about the pandemic itself and more about the people affected. Presented as a story that takes place both before the shutdowns and then during, The Shift does just that; shifting between several characters who see their lives change dramatically during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history. Tailor does an excellent job really displaying the disparity of life during the pandemic and life prior, with an excellent slate of actors bringing the story to life. Joining Tailor on the journey are Danny Trejo, Brooke Maroon, Sarah Wylie, Toni Trucks, Skyler Davenport, Brittany Curran and so many more who all deliver on this excellent look into the personal side of a global tragedy.
Take My Wife, Please – Based on a true story from the life of writer/director Steve Feld, it follows Matt (Kevin Jack) and Jessie (Savannah Gilmore) as Matt, who attempts to find Jessie a second husband after getting a terminal diagnosis. Adapted from Feld’s book of the same name, this bittersweet comedy is based not only in truth, but in love, which shows up in every frame. It’s a beautiful film that is sure to pull at some emotions in a very satisfying way.
Change For A Five – A beautiful but heartbreaking film, Elizabeth Godar shows us a day in the life of an isolated and lonesome man who decides, that in the absence of others to lift him up, to give himself a day of his favorite things to remind him of times past and raise his spirits. We see him dress in his favorite outfit, do his favorite activities, eat his favorite meal, and treat himself the way he would want others to treat him, if he hadn’t pulled away from the world, either intentionally or subconsciously. Godar delivers on an excellent premise here, which is amplified by the dynamic performance of star Ryan Kattner.
Hello Mother – Another powerful but painful film, this true-to-life short sees Natalie Shirinian playing a version of herself, recreating a difficult moment in her life as she tells the story of her coming out to her very traditional Armenian mother. As culture meets truth, the tough conversation takes place after Natalie returns home from a late night with her girlfriend, eventually explaining her whereabouts and the true nature of her relationship. The reaction is tough to watch, but being able to see these conversations take place, in all forms, is important to see, and can have a big impact in getting LBTQIA+ content to more people. Shirinian is incredible, and joining her in excellent performances are Helen Kalognomos and Elizabeth Baudouin, who also deliver wonderfully.
Blunt – An amazing film by Hisonni Mustafa, Blunt focuses less on the action and more on social dynamics as Kate (Veronica Mitsuk) has a difficult conversation with her father (Joe Palubinsky) about race, sexuality and the need to respect her choices as she reveals her relationship with Aiden (Destiny Faith Nelson), a black woman. On the other side, Aiden deals with the othering of herself and the judgement of Kate’s mother (Trina Colon), something that is remedied, at least slightly, by the common habit of smoking cannabis. It’s an incredible film, especially since such dialog heavy pieces aren’t so common in modern filmmaking. But this film uses that method brilliantly, spanning a plethora of topics and issues, all while expertly navigating it on the overarching issue of a relationship.
Monsters Of Mine – A multimedia animated short directed by Lana Nguyen and written by Valerie Tan, this film mixes stop-motion animation with puppetry and miniaturized sets to tell the tale of a young girl who uses some incredibly impressive glasses to breathe imaginary life into monsters to keep her company. But as technology does, the glasses eventually break, forcing the girl to see the value of human interaction and socialization. The way this film is animated is wonderful, mixing medias to create a fantastical landscape in which to tell a story. All of the animators and puppeteers deserve a huge congratulations for this film, along with the writer, director and voice actors Kimberly Girkin and Sami Bray.
Billie & Mark Almost Get Killed – Can you Dig It? – A wildly fun piece, this Sean Reidy written and Samantha J. McDonald directed film stars Brittany Lee McDonald and Michael Delislie as two people who love true crime stories and find themselves involved in one of their own as they wind up in some trouble with the wrong people. They only way they make it our of there is together, and in their own fortunate, bumbling way get the job done. It’s fun, silly and incredibly entertaining.
The Possum – Graham Wallace’s short puts a spotlight on Kenny, played by Wallace, a strange man who loves possums, has many hobbies and, despite the empty, spacious home left to him after his mother’s passing, lives in the guest house of the property. The film takes ore of a documentary style, speaking to Kenny, as well as those who know him. During discussions with his family housekeeper (Tina D’Marco) and a schoolmate (Michael Scovotti), we see the things that have shaped Kenny, as well as their thoughts on this very interesting person. Wallace is fantastic in this, becoming the fictitious subject of a film about their real life. As we learn more and more about Kenny, we get a bigger picture of his life and how his connection to the possum has become such a big part of his life. There’s something really poetic and beautiful about this film, a dynamic that is aided by the positivity and confidence in which Kenny lives his life, knowing he’s on the verge of doing something big.
That will do it for this month! Thanks goes out to all of the incredible filmmakers who contributed their work to this screening. Each of these films were wonderful in their own way, and deserving of getting their creations out to a wider audience. Be sure to check out these films from April 27th to May 1st, only on BitPix!