February 2023 HollyShorts Monthly Screenings!

After the great success of our first screening of the year, we’re back with yet another series of fantastic films for everyone to enjoy. With over a dozen new films for people to watch, it’s incredible to see the depth of talent that exists in this medium, and the ability to display it like is shown here. For those who are able to attend, the screening will take place on February 22nd at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, and can also be viewed online from the 22nd to the 26th, only on BitPix. So with that in mind, let’s get onto the screenings and enjoy these incredible films!

Jump Seat – This neon infused short by Aaron Colborn is a visually stunning piece that is introspective while still managing to ramp up the intensity. The film follows Quincy (Alexa Ré), a driver who spends her nights moving members of the criminal underground from place to place covertly, until one night, Quincy is greeted by a familiar face in Rhett (Matt Mascaro), who is evading a skilled assassin for hire in Isaac (Tito Livas), forcing Quincy to hide out and attempt to protect her friend. It also stars Charla Bocchicchio as the woman who hires Quincy in Val, a hardned handler who’s looking to just get the job done. It’s a surprisingly introspective film, focusing on the smaller players of this perceived synth-inspired world, taking a new angle on a familiar style. Super interesting film that looks primed to be expanded into a full-length feature.

The Speed Of Sound – Writer and director Matthew Tyler brings an incredible and heartbreaking drama starring Garrett Richmond and Connie Shi about a couple who is going through it, a bit. As Luke and Elena are in their home, Elena begins to hear the sounds of the world, the past lives of this home and of her partner’s life, cutting through both words and silence. It’s a beautiful, painful piece that gives us an incredible score, brilliant acting and a powerful story that allows the noise of the world around us and in our heads will the gaps that words leave.

Listen To Me – Director Liam Flynn brings an incredible story of struggle and empowerment for Margaret (Donna Ansley), a woman caught in between a big life change, the difficulty of taking care of an ailing mother, and the cycle of love and abuse that permeates her marriage. Through all this, we get bits of pieces of her life, taking care of her mother (Helen Roche), who suffers from Alzheimer’s, the challenge of not only taking a new job, but moving out of her native Ireland to America for it, and with the terrible abuse her husband (Andrew Kenny) bestows upon her during his angry outbursts. It’s a film that gives you great sympathy for the protagonist, a seemingly good woman who needs to escape the difficulties of her life in order to thrive, and sheds a lot of light on what so many people have to live through, both with parental care and in abusive relationships. Flynn does a great job of combining these negative factors into something for Margaret to overcome for herself, as well as showing that though she’s a victim, she’s not at fault for what she’s gone through.

Launch At Paradise – Writer/star Daniel Mitura teams with director Carrie Ann Quinn to bring this frenetic and interesting science fiction story that focuses on John (Mitura) as he goes through a procedure that would allow him to live forever. As he goes through it, things get more and more blurred, as memories, thoughts and his own mind try to get through the process. It’s a very interesting film that should really turn a lot of heads at the screening.

Eric – David Yorke’s thrilling film focuses on finding love, and getting the approval of those closest to the one you’re dating. In this case, that someone is the diminutive Eric, a small Pomeranian in which Joshua (Oliver Powell) has to impress to win the heart of Becca (Jemma Moore). As time goes on, Becca’s love of Eric begins to take a bit of a turn as Joshua seems to find the small dog at every turn. But as man’s best friend, Eric proves to be as valuable as anyone could be in terms of a companion. Yorke does a great job of adding some tension to a film that could be, and at times is, a bit silly. And Jane the Pomeranian proves that dogs are excellent companions in films, especially when anchored by terrific performances from Powell and Moore, who really bring their all to the film.

Parallels – Written and directed by Kate Surinskaya, this film focuses on a Russian family whose teen daughter dreams of becoming an actress, but also has to deal with the illness of her mother. It’s a very emotionally powerful film, with the cast of Kristina Korbut, Lillian Navrozashvili, Artem Kretov and the rest of the very talented cast doing an incredible job to bring this story of passion, loss and seeing the past as guidelines for the future to life.

Ascension – Stephanie Kim stars as Lumi, a former ballet dancer who is left behind on a now nearly uninhabitable Earth as the rest make their way to the stars. As she struggles with this, she finds her only remaining company is a mysterious entity that begins to show her that this end is only the start of something else. Writer/director Wesley Rodriguez delivers on a gorgeous and powerful film that really looks like nothing else out there, dealing with a topic that many think about, but is rarely the focus when it comes to near or post-apocalyptic science fiction.

Moving Out – Making an incredible third appearance on our monthly screenings, Rachel Earnest’s beautiful film about religion and sexuality comes back to once again show us that being yourself and living your truth isn’t always the easiest choice, but it the most important. As a closeted woman comes out to her religious family, Sam (Carolyn Grundman) makes the decision to leave her home in order to live more freely without the judgement of the church she grew up in, whose doctrines frown upon homosexuality and the progression of gay rights. A film close to Earnest’s heart, it shows that religion and homosexuality don’t always have to be mutually exclusive, as the film’s crew stayed with those involved in the local church during filming. It’s an important message that no matter how you live, you can find your community and be accepted, even if it’s not always where you expect.

I/O – An incredible entry from the wonderful creators that submit to the Easterseals Disability Challenge, this film focuses on a man whose genius is accompanied by an insecurity about his looks, worried that he may not be able to find love based on who he is. So Rob (Scott Rosendall) creates a robotic ideal of himself (Danny Gomez), using virtual reality to control the machine to pursue Pamela (Julia Arian). Despite this, Rob feels guilt and insecurity about hiding who he is, and if exposing his ruse will ruin the relationship he cherishes. It’s a bittersweet story that is told incredibly well, with director Carl Hansen and writer Andrew Horng (the two of which created the story as a pair) coming together to deliver an engaging film that really brings up questions of morality and love in an age of technology.

Trying – Multi-talented writer/director/star Alice Lee (who was joined by co-writer Zach Reiner-Harris) stars as Alice Moon, a Korean-American actress who is doing everything she can to retain who she is and her motivation to succeed as an actress while she attempts to audition for a film as a North Korean defector. It’s a great film that really highlights the way people of different cultures have to try to navigate traditionally American mediums that were reticent to accept them for so long. Joining Lee is Kimiko Glenn, forming an incredible duo of actresses in a really fun and empowering film.

Serendipity And Me – This lovely film by Tal Anderson, the writer, director, editor and star, focuses on her, her life, and her cat, especially after it was thrown into upheaval during the pandemic. An autistic creative, Tal’s life has its own challenges on its own, but as she was successfully navigating the world, the world stopped, bringing further chaos into Tal’s life. Through finding out how to help her cat enjoy life again after the cat began to misplace its toys, Tal was able to use that as inspiration to enjoy her own again, in a world that was much different than it was just a few years ago. It’s a joyful and delightful film that really shows that resilience of Anderson herself.

Arroro – Ann Valdés brings a haunting and powerful film to the screening this month, as he film about Sofia (Solmyra Araiza), who finds herself in a bit of a rut after her seeing the happiness her best friend (Shannon Spangler) is experiencing after moving in with their partner. When Sofia’s period is late, she begins to imagine life as a mother, singing a lullaby from her youth in her dreams. But all is not as it seems, adding a distinct and impressive twist to the film, bringing it from what looked like a very grounded and emotionally focused film into something a bit more sinister in a way that works really well. Valdés does an excellent job really adding tension into the film in ways that make it impossible to look away.

Kassandra – Ivar Wigan’s incredibly tense French drama focuses on a group of women as a beach day between friends on an uninhabited island near Marseille turns into a journey of betrayal and fear as one of their friends dies while exploring the cliffs. As the women attempt to figure out what happened, Kassandra, the visually impaired and de facto mascot of the group, puts the pieces together in a film that is full of tension, drama and some incredible storytelling. The cast of Soumeya, Oceehaze, Elisa Gerard, Paula Bouyer and Bérénice Ouedraogo are all excellent, and the black and white aesthetic is used brilliantly in this heart-pounding film.

Pro Pool (Piscine Pro) – Finding a job after getting your degree can be a tough challenge, especially when the field is so narrow, as it is when you get a degree in ancient civilizations. That leads Charles-Oliver (Louis Carrière) to take a job at a pool supply store, doing what he can to make the best of a job with an overbearing boss and some interesting co-workers. Writer/director Alec Pronovost does an excellent job in making this slice of life film a engaging and entertaining film, and one that definitely looks like it was as fun to make as it was to watch.

Insufferable Breakup – Alexandria Luna and Jake Lockett star as Becky and Brody, two people who absolutely need to be apart but keep coming back together after a cycle of breakups and reconciliations in this Aiden Weber film, co-wrote by Weber and Jonathan Angelico. In the middle of a busy café, the pair hurl insults at one another, decide to give it another go, decide against it, and then come back together once more, much to the chagrin of the patrons nearby, all of who are listening in, whether they mean to or not. The epitome of toxic couples, this film shines a light on that couple all of us know, whether they be friends or just people out in the world, doing so in a hilarious and all too relatable way.

Hoar – Jeanette Dilone’s fantastic family drama about a phone sex operator (Brianda Agramonte) and her hoarder mother (Iliana Guibert) really hits the mark here as it focuses on the relationship between the two of them as Amy (Agramonte) discovers she’s been accepted to Oxford University, far from the home her and her mother share. This is a familiar topic that is given a unique spin, delving into their relationship, the challenges of moving away from home and the way that families communicate in times of change. It is a beautiful and touching film that should really please audiences.

Evergreen – Malin Barr writes, directs and stars in this fascinating film about a Swedish national and her partner meeting with the Immigration Office. During the wait, Mia (Barr) imagines a much more casual setting in which she and her partner Seth (Zach Appleman) go to a friendly get-together with Robert (Andrew Dits) and Jessica (Rana Roy) that turns intense very quickly. Using this scenario to show the blunt and sometimes harsh questions posed by Immigration to verify the reality of relationships of those from different countries is extremely effective, ramping up the power they have and the anxiety this process can induce.

Norma – A very interesting short film about Norma (played by Susie Blake), an older woman celebrating her birthday with her husband (David Fielder), who’s forgotten all about it. As she celebrates with a cake and music that is important to their relationship, things take quite the turn as their own long-standing issues come to the forefront in unexpected ways. Writer and director Emily Munster does an excellent job in this character piece, keeping things interesting in this bottle film about two people who’ve long gone past the time of being with anyone else, but still have a lifetime of issues and slights hanging over their heads.

That will do it for this month! Please feel free to check out more of the incredible films in our screening series of previous months, and keep an eye out for more screenings and news from us! If you can attend in person, please feel free to join us on February 22nd in Los Angeles at the TCL Chinese Theater, and on BitPix from February 22nd to February 26th.

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