Nearly halfway through the year and another great slate of films, presented by Hollyshorts and BitPix! Fresh off the Hollywood Comedy Shorts Festival comes a mixture of fresh and familiar faces for this month’s screenings. Over a dozen films are on display this month, all from some excellent creators. Without further wait, let’s check out all of these fantastic films! They will all be available live at our in-person screening in Los Angeles, or online at BitPix from May 25th to 29th.
We All Die Alone – Jonathan Hammond brings a new kind of crime comedy to the table, as a standoff between two crews gets an unexpected result. With a stellar cast featuring Joshua Alan Jones, Patrick Mayuyu, Brian Patrick Bulter and many more, this is a wonderfully heartfelt and silly film that really brings a new wrinkle to this type of film. It was a really fun watch.
Ride Or Die – Lily Citrin’s short is a hilarious and wild romp that stars Madeline Jordan and Adele Franck. After discovering her best friend’s shocking crime of passion, Adele does what every self-respecting white girl does: hypes her friend up and absolves her of all responsibility. It was a surprising but hilarious film that was really enjoyable in a macabre sort of way. Jordan and Franck are so much fun, and this is a film that absolutely delivers on its premise.
Cold Call – Katherine Cronyn’s frenetic but insular film tells the story of a businessman (MIchael O’Neill) whose no-nonsense demeanor has made him a formidable negotiator. But during a drive, he gets a call where he has no leverage and must give in to any and all demands, a situation that is both harrowing and unfamiliar. The direction on this film is fantastic, as O’Neill is frantic and panicking. The way this film is shot really ups the tempo, making for a heart-pounding, thrilling film that somehow also takes place exclusively in a car. A unique way to make a film, and one that pays off well.
The Carducci Talent Show – The longest film by far in this screening, The Carducci Talent Show is worth every moment, as this thrilling piece brings forth all of the intrigue of a supernatural horror film with aspects of mystery, suspense and an engrossing story. Every four years, a group of friends gets together to perform a talent show as an act of tradition. As a new member, Emma, the fiancée of North Hill alum Tony, act as the audience surrogate as we watch the talent show shift from a friendly tradition into something much more. There is a huge cast, all of them extremely talented, and as each moment continues on, things get more and more engrossing as the traditions and rules of the show continue to develop. Writer/director Anthony Fanelli really brings it in this film that has shades of other horror titles, but brings in a twist that was certainly not expected.
Man Drops Dead – Omar Amir and Curtis Fortier star in this quirky Jason Phillips film that shows the beginnings of a new career for a grocery store employee. When Chad is forced to help remove the body of a man who passed away in the store, things get tricky in a fun and interesting way. The cast is excellent, with a story that is wholly its own, making for quite the watch.
The Dump – Neil Holland writes, directs and stars (alongside Carolina Korth) in this raunchy comedy that shows the lengths some will go to for love. After a misunderstanding, Vanessa has to go to some extreme measures to prove her love and faith to Jason. This is a wild concept that makes for a lot of laughs and a few groans, but is excellent for the type of film it is. It’s a wholly unique film that should be seen to be believed.
The Kiss-Off – Wanting to Rock and Roll all night and party every day is the subject of Elizabeth Lippman’s terrific and heartfelt film, which sees John Ross Bowie playing a man whose first and truest love is the band Kiss. To show that devotion, he and his cover band have dreams of rocking the face paint on stage, but that dream runs into a complication when the real life of one of his bandmates threatens to cut the lights. Bowie, along with Michael Reilly Burke, Jessica Joy and Sharmila Devar put on great performances, with Bowie really going for it with the Gene Simmons look for the entire film.
Lucid – Writer/director Yelizaveta Mamajeva brings an esoteric but beautiful film to the screening, as she weaves the tale of girl who finds the woman who has been appearing in her dreams in real life. As she discovers this, her obsessions’ with the woman become greater and greater, her thoughts now stuck on rescuing the mysterious woman from an even more mysterious attacker. The film moves gracefully, bringing a dream-like wonder to the film as it goes on, really adding to its allure and mystique. Sarah J. Bartholomew and Judie Feenstra really help elevate this film, all of it coming together to be one of the films to watch of this screening.
Anything for You – Based on the Cate Allen play, Matt Ferrucci’s adaptation stars Alain Uy and Sunkrish Bala as two friends having an unexpected conversations as Richard (Uy) speaks with his best friend George (Bala) about his desire to not only have an affair, but one that will help him explore his boundaries. When Richard proposes that his affair be with George, these two friends attempt to navigate the diffcult waters of their relationship in a way neither expected. Set in a restaurant and dialog heavy (much like the way a play is produced), this film is an incredibly heartfelt and beautiful story of two friends who are discovering so much about themselves and each other. Bala and Uy are brilliant, bringing powerful acting to a touching premise.
Maria: The Mexican Sex Trafficking Survivor Fighting for Justice – Shanshan Chen with the Thomson Reuters Foundation delivers a powerful animated film about a woman who finds herself as part of the sex trade, thanks to an abusive relationship. Her survival and fight for others who are trying to escape this brutal victimization is incredible, as Maria uses her experience to help fight for this who might not be able to fight for themselves. This film does an excellent job of shining a light on something that doesn’t always get it, bringing some attention to a worldwide problem.
Goodnight and Goodbye – This was a tough, but engrossing film that really brings the struggle of addiction front and center as Nico (Elijah Noble El) talks about his life and battle with sex addiction to his therapist (Rodriguez Jennings). Nico, despite some defensiveness, opens up about how it feels, his thoughts of suicide, what he does during his times of strife and even the slivers of light in the darkness. A light that comes in the form of Bonnie (Callie Bussell), a woman he shows deep care for. There are moments that hurt, because that’s something that addiction does, and moments of hope, which is out there for everyone struggling with addiction. It was a powerhouse performance by Noble El, who brought everything to the role, along with being the main creative force behind it as writer and director.
Margot’s Last Meal – Paul B. Cummings’ film is easily one of the most beautiful films that can be contained to just over four minutes. With incredible camera work and a story that can instantly bring on the tears, this was an absolute powerhouse of a film that should be the talk of the screenings. With Claire Montgomery and the adorable Auggie starring, this was an unexpected but beloved short.
Hush – Director Alex Merkin and writer Jennifer Lana Harper give us a film about the brave and incredible people that performed at the German Transgender Cabaret in Berlin’s El Dorado during the rise of the Third Reich. As the Nazis come to commit their crimes against the LGBT community there, despite their warnings, the performers stay, but allowing the Nazis to see them shy away in fear. The film focuses on one of these performers, Drick, one of the first successful Transgender performers in the Cabaret. It’s inspiring to see how these performers stood tall despite knowing the consequences, and horrific to see what they suffered at the hands on the Nazis, especially since their suffering during this time was ignored until the early 21st century. Machete Bang Bang is absolutely brilliant as Drick, and the rest of the cast shines as well.
Lessons From My Mother – Kriss Dozal and Angeli Zaldivar star in this very heartfelt and loving film that sees Fer (Zaldivar) taking lessons taught to get by her mother and applying it in life. As the two struggle after the loss of their father, Fer explains the things she was taught as they attempt to get back on their feet. With a few surprising turns and a lot of support and love, this Aurora Jimenez film was an absolute delight.
Sea Dragon – Lawrie Doran and James Morgan (who also directs) deliver the inspiring story of Mary Anning, a young girl who is also the first to discover the fossilized skeleton of the ichthyosaur, the ancient prehistoric creature found on the planet millions of years ago. Her discovery changed the way humans thought about the history of the Earth, and those who roamed it before man. It’s a beautiful and inspiring story, despite Anning not getting her due in her time. Kiara Holley-Paliano, who plays Anning, is wonderful, energetic and bright, bringing the awe of discovery to her performance. Flanked by Nathaniel Parker and Harvey Dean, she delivers on an incredible story for the ages.
Wanna Go Camping? – This is a fun and thrilling film by Zach Siegel that injects a little bit of horror into a camping trip. Corey (Will Tranfo) takes his boyfriend Luis (Ricky Abilez) out on a camping trip, looking for something cute and special. But not everything is as it seems, and the trip soon takes a turn. It was unexpected to see ow this film progressed, but the shift was fantastic, and bolstered by some excellent camera work to really add some intensity.
Audition Room 2 – Jette Newell is a driving force in this film that sees her write, star and for the first time, direct a film. Trying to get roles in the film industry is tough, and the audition process is a general nightmare for most. This film really brings that out, using the literal expressions of so many metaphorical hang-ups that actors can display in a way that is both hilarious, and at times, unsettling. It was so fun to watch, and a major bright spot in a screening full of them.
That does it for this month’s screenings! Thank you to all of the brilliant creators that let us take a look at their work, and congratulations to them for getting selected. All of these and so much more can be seen during this screening on May 25th to 29th, only on BitPix!