Sadly, it’s time for the 18th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival to come to a close. While this is mostly reserved for the awards ceremony, there is still one block of amazing films to cover! So all highlighted films will be from our final Midnight Madness block, as well as a quick interview with one of the highlighted filmmakers. Thank you to all of those who participated, and for anyone who joined us in person or online via BitPix! If you missed out on any of the previous films, it’ll all still be available online. Until next year!
Anaconda – The internet is a vast and wild space, full of ways to pass the time, meet others and get into some harrowing situations. Writer/director Joshua Amar displays what can happen when anonymous sexual encounters on the internet can go wrong as we see a college student (Sam Marra) get catfished and blackmailed by someone after an interaction online. Keldon White stars alongside Mara, both of whom are excellent in this intense and off-putting horror film.
You Are Trash! – This film feels like one of those late-night B horror films, in the best way. The kinds with a lesson about the world, with a lot of wonderfully campy layers added to it. Don’t clean up your trash? Well, now it’s sentient and attempting to do you harm. This film, lead by the team of writers/directors Andy Koeger & Dan Frantz and lead actor Phillip Garcia do an excellent job of capturing that kind of aesthetic and really bringing it into the spotlight while giving it a bit of fun throughout.
You’re The Best – Ana Liza Muravina dedicates this wonderful film to the subject of spin class, the act of getting together in a group to pump each other up and ride stationary bikes. There are many instructors of this type of activity, but many of them fit a certain stereotype, something that Emmy (Caitlin Kinnunen) doesn’t fit. That’s where this film begins, but it takes a very interesting turn as Emmy begins to investigate her place of employment. It’s a very fun, but still tense film that explores some interesting facets of the stereotypes of athletic trainers and how they treat others. Kinninen’s co-stars Sabina Friedman-Seitz, Krishna Smitha, Brendan Meyer, Bregje Heinen, Nora Garrett, Sophia Macias and Chris O’Shea all deliver just as well as Kinnunen does, bringing about a great ensemble performance.
Phlegm – Writer/director Jan-David Bolt brings us a surreal and boggling experience with this film as we watch a man, who’s in a rush, deal with a sudden influx of snails on his way to work. As the film develops, the appearance of them gets ore and more unusual, as does his reaction to them. It’s a fascinating piece that brings forth a lot of existential ideas, and really makes for a thoughtful and provocative watch.
The Unusualist – Mike Simses brings us Matt Gorley as The Unusalist, a cartographer into the world of the strange and surreal. Dealing with the supernatural and uncanny, watch as Gorley brings forth the stories of those who have dealt with the unreal and unexplained in a way only he can. Gorley is brilliant in this film, as are his co-stars Molly Hawkey, Jeremy Carter, Daniel Michicoff, Kate Simses, Mark Gessner, Logan Brown, Aaron Kheifets and Lindsay Torrey. Odd but funny, this film really takes on an almost Ghost Hunters meets Twilight Zone kind of vibe, melding storytelling with the “lived experience” of those who have been through the strange goings on.
Our last interview of the year comes from Jan-David Bolt, writer and director of Phlegm. It was very kind of them to take the time out to answer a few questions. Hope everyone enjoys!
Q: Tell us more about your film. How did it come to be?
Phlegm was shot during a partial lockdown in Zurich. At a time when we were all struggling to find a new rhythm for our lives. First there was a monologue I wrote a few years ago. It was about a person who questions the existence of God because he accidentally killed the family hamster. For the first draft of Phlegm, I chose an externalized version of that conflict and turned it into some kind of surreal burnout.
Q: What was your budget?
Enough to buy pizza for everyone involved.
Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film?
I learned a lot about snails. A week before filming, seven snails lived in a room with me. One night I woke up looking for a strange-sounding water leak. It turned out to be the sound of snails chewing on cucumbers.
I also learned how to direct snails in front of a camera – I read several scientific articles about their sense of direction and how they decide where to move next.
The snails also dictated our shooting schedule, as we had to wait until they awoke from hibernation in the spring.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?
Shooting during a pandemic. That was horrible. We were all vaccinated twice, but we couldn’t find enough extras who weren’t afraid to walk outdoors and about 15 feet apart. I even had to ask my parents to join in. I learned that my dad can’t walk in a straight line if you ask him to – the snails were easier to direct.
Q: What is next for you?
I’m writing on several feature film scripts and will release two more short films this year. Next year I’ll incarnate a dozen clones of myself as part of an autobiographical project, and after that I’ll be broke.
This was an amazing year for short film, and a big shout-out goes to everyone involved for letting this be one of the biggest HollyShorts ever! Please make sure to check back with us for more coverage of the festival and any news that arises. The countdown is now on to the 19th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival, but this year’s 18th has gone down as a surefire classic.