We’re back! After a brief hiatus to recover from the incredible HollyShorts Film Festival, the Monthly Screening series has returned, and we’re coming back with an amazing slate of films. With nearly two dozen films in this month’s screening, coupled with a tinge of the spooky, there are some terrific films to check out this month. They can be seen in person for those in Los Angeles at the TCL Chinese Theater on October 26th, or on BitPix from October 27th to October 29th. Enjoy!
Catalyst – Maria Mastroyannis’ film about finally taking chances and using events as a cause for change is one that is really inspiring. Masha (Mastroyannis) is living with her partner, though seems to not be all-in with them, which we see when she meets a former lover, their encounter compelling her to dump her coffee on his laptop, destroying it. This event ripples out through her social circle, giving friends, and herself, the courage needed to make things in their life happen that they’ve been hesitant to do. It’s a beautiful film that is funny and inspiring, really showing the kind of butterfly effect one thing can have on so many others, especially when that effect is positive. This is wonderful work by Mastroyannis and the rest of the cast, which includes Stephanie Keefer, Jane Kim, Don DiPaolo, Darren Mangler and Doug Mattingly.
Vengeance – Eric Toms delivers a crushing film with Vengeance, a story that blends sci-fiction with horror in a haunting and unique way. With the emergence of a new form of VR that doesn’t just let a player see a pre-programmed set of events, people can now see, hear, and even feel what’s in this virtual space. And for one man, all he wants to see and feel are the events in his life that broke him, that caused him and others around him pain, events that he is at fault for. Toms is incredible in this films, as is co-star Kayla Huysmans, who shares that same pain. This one hurt, but in an intensely satisfying way.
Super Inspired – Director Anthony Gibson and writer/star Kevin D’Ambrosio bring us a wonderful film about a normal man who does something extraordinary when he meets someone who is in awe of the inspiration that he gets from seeing those with disabilities. After their conversation, the man (Marcus Manugia) learns not only to seek inspiration from others, but also form themselves. It’s a heartwarming story that really shows the power of self-love, regardless of who you are.
In Search Of Lost Continents – Travis Lee Ratcliff’s ethereal and wonderful film focuses on two sisters who leave their rural Texas home for a better chance at life. But that travel doesn’t come without pursuit as a man they’ve seen in their dreams seems to be chasing them. That concept is delivered expertly by Ratcliff, as well as the cast of Alexandria Payne and Jariah Johnson, who navigate the two worlds of reality and dreams expertly. It’s so beautifully shot, with lush environments and well-done lighting as they jump between the two places, really giving them different feels. This was a really well made and interesting contribution to this month’s screenings.
Rescued – The inspiring story of when a rescue dog ends up rescuing their person, this story focuses on Anna (co-writer and star Jannica Olin), a woman with alopecia, who meets and fosters Chester (playing his very good self), a dog without full use of his ack legs after an attack. As their relationship grows, Chester’s ability to get through his own physical limitations gives Anna the courage to do the same. This heartwarming film also stars co-writer and director Kevin Callies, as well as Charles Greaves.
The Courier – A dead end job and a search for meaning are what drives this film by Jon Robben and Zach Wiegmann, with Robben also starring as the titular courier. On a delivery, he meets a mysterious woman (Elyse Mirto) who offers him that meaning. Films like this are so much fun, because they follow a path that is satisfying every time. The mysterious person, the dangerous opportunity that should at all costs be avoided, and the resignation of accepting that alluring fulfillment. It’s a wonderful way to bring it all together, with the cast doing an excellent job, Robben and Wiegmann delivering some excellent visuals, and everything flowing in such an engaging and satisfying way.
Magic Box – Matt and Rich Van Tine deliver a great short horror film about a magician’s assistant having to escape a deadly series of trials from a magician looking for proof of the best assistant for the job. Trapped inside a magic box, she must find a way out herself, to both prove herself and to get out of there with her life. Iman Karram and Tim Simek are great in this, with Karram really shining as the magician’s assistant.
The Coupon – Laura Seay, who stars and directs this film, co-stars with writer Micah Cohen in this hilarious short about a birthday present gone wrong when Terrance (Cohen) is given a love coupon book by wife Wendy (Seay), only for him to give the book away to a stranger (Adam J. Harrington) after an incident. When the stranger comes to collect, things go awry in a delightful and raucous way. It was a wonderful film that is fun to watch and has some major laugh out loud moments.
You Missed A Spot – Director Liam Walsh and writer Micah Fusco deliver one of the weirdest films in recent memory, as in a world full of clowns, one mime must save everyone (including the love of his life), from a mysterious masked killer. From death coming in the form of your clown makeup being removed to mime-based action sequences, this is an inventive and wild piece of art that will really get people talking. Or pantomiming, depending. Starring Michael Lyons, Tiffany Stringer, Hap Lawrence and Noel Olken, this film was a delightful horror comedy surprise.
Earthbound – Camilla Wolf brings us a fun sci-fi comedy that gives theorists that believe there is alien life out there proof of their claims when an extraterrestrial conspiracist is abducted by an alien race, only to find out the words “intelligent” and “life” may not go together as well as she imagined. Wolf is very fun in this film, and the entire concept is silly and a great time, with the computer generated aliens looking very cartoon-like and adorable.
Face – Sophia Kyriacou’s conceptual CGI film is one of the more beautiful shorts in recent memory, with a dialogue-empty story that sends the viewer on a journey through the life of someone living with autism, and the ways they have to put on different faces to interact with the outside world. There’s something so special about this film as it brings you on this journey, bringing out intense emotions through breathtaking visuals.
Angel City Horror – Matt McWilliams writes and directs one of the more unique horror films on this slate, as this film mixes the tough-nosed 50’s pulp detective stories with some Lovecraftian horror, mixing in some multi-media graphic novel stylings. In 1951 Los Angeles, two detectives continue their investigation into a missing patient at one of L.A.’s insane asylums, only to discover that there is much more than meets the eye here. A bit outlandish and fun, this is also a great multi-genre horror film that brings the best of each genre it steps into. Stars Christopher Matthew Cook, Patrick Joseph Reiger, Sarah Nicklin and Sadie Katz are all wonderful in this, with Cook and Reiger really bringing the pulp detectives to life. This was a wonderfully fun film to watch, and one that uses mixed media to incredible effect.
Everybody Goes To The Hospital – Writer/director Tiffany Kimmel gives us a heartbreaking story of a young girl who suffers a daunting medical emergency, and the trauma that comes from both the situation itself and from the reactions of her family. Lucia Hadley Wheeler, who voices the narrator, does an excellent job of giving us the pain and fear in our protagonist, as well as an air of confusion and not totally understanding, due to her young age. With a stop-motion style, this film is gorgeous and heartbreaking all at once.
Mind Over Matter – John Lacy directs this film written by Stephen Bridgewater and John Kloepfer that focuses on a disabled man with the incredible ability to move objects with his mind. Given that he lives his life in a wheelchair, this ability both allows him to help himself and others, which we see as he reminisces about the events of his day. While missing an appointment, he, Peter Parker-like, saves others while juggling other life events. Luis Rivera and Flo Walberg are both so great in this film that really shows how mental fortitude can help people overcome even the hardest of challenges at times.
AlieNation – Ray Raghavan directs this story written by him and Nick Purrier about a family of immigrants being pursued by the Border Patrol. During the chase, this family finds their not the only ones in this forest, as something wholly unbelievable is lurking just out of sight. Maria Frazer and Margarita Iturriaga are excellent in this multi-lingual film that feels like it really echoes the realities of immigrants attempting to find their way into America by any means they can.
The Other Side Of Fear – Daniel Mendelle’s short film is a powerful and interesting one, as it focuses on Patient CM (Persia Blue), as two scientists, Doctor Bergman (Per Morberg) and Doctor Noe (Yann Bean) push her to her limits to test her rare brain disorder, one that basically makes it impossible for her to feel fear. Through experiment after experiment, CM giggles, laughs and occasionally gets annoyed by the antics of Bergman and Noe, though never quite gets to the sensation of fear that’s eluded her for her entire life. It’s a wild look at this condition, and what it means to be afraid, and what fear does to inhibitions, decision making and feeling human.
Don’t Go Outside – Natasha Halevi writes, directs and stars in this powerful film that explores the life of a woman with amnesia as she goes through life not knowing what’s happening, with the exception being that she not go outside, as the unknown person on the other side of the phone keeps telling her, several times a day, every day. This film has so much going for it. From the shaky and grainy film style that manages to make it feel dated, something that really impacts the story itself to the impressive performance of Halevi and the twist of the story at the end, this is a terrific thriller that will really turn some heads.
Creeper – David Love and Maria Scrivner-Love bring about an interesting blend of thriller and speculative science fiction in this grounded film that focuses on a young boy from a home with an abusive father as he deals with the added conflict of a shady man following him around. This stalker becomes more important to the young man than he would ever know, their identity rocking the worldview of the entire family. It’s a very tense film, with some incredible acting from the cast, which features Amy Acker, Archer Berenson as well as the duo of James and Jack Carpinello. This was a great film that takes a wild turn, but one that really adds a lot to the film.
If Things Go South – Musician Kaya Stewart brings us a mixed media film of sorts, with performances from her new album of same name, along with pieces of commentary and behind the scenes work in between the songs. It’s so beautifully shot, Stewart is brilliant as both a go-between narrator of sorts and as a performer.
That’s all for this month! Thank you for joining us as we get back into the swing of highlighting some of the best creators in the short film space. Make sure to check out these fantastic films at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles on October 26th, or form October 27th to October 29th, only on BitPix!