A typically eclectic blend of “Venetians” – aging punks and hippies, aspiring artists, students and film fans gathered at the Electric Lodge last weekend for The 3rd Annual The Other Venice Film Festival (OVFF), an event both ambitious in scope yet intimate and community-oriented. The parking lot was filled with everything from brand-new Porsches and Lexus SUV’s, to many an old beater, a testament to the broad appeal of the Festival.There were numerous films and programs to choose from over the four-day event, often with simultaneous screenings at two different venues. The Festival kicked off with a tribute to legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, which included a screening and a lively Q & A.The next few days were packed with a truly astonishing array of films: features, shorts, documentaries, music videos, experimental films and a program of short films from Nottingham, U.K.’s Bang! Film Festival, the OVFF’s sister festival across the pond.I had the pleasure of viewing the seven short films in the Women Director Shorts Series. The flicks were, not surprisingly, somewhat uneven, but every film had something to offer, and the passion evident in the filmmaking always outstripped the occasionally amateurish acting and narrative cheats, such as over-reliance on V.O. narration and direct-address to camera, rather than action, to tell the story.Notable films in the above-mentioned series were “Welcome to My Life,” written, directed by and starring Carissa Tedesco as a 30-year-old woman searching for Mr. Right. Ms. Tedesco is an engaging performer and witty writer with a nice eye for quirky detail and an ear for ripe one-liners (Opening line: “I’m so much less retarded when I’m getting laid.”).Jen McGowan’s “Confessions of a Late Bloomer” is a hilarious and touching look at an undersized 15-year-old boy’s attempt to get through puberty in a week in order to win the affections of a lovely girl dating the school jerk. The young actors were all terrific, and the script provided a fresh take on a time-honored story.Kandeyce Jorden’s “Undone” is a compelling look at a suburban housewife’s secret life in the S & M demimonde. Ms. Jorden’s direction was sharp; the action, particularly in the first half of the film, possessed a pulsing, kinetic energy. Her acting turn in the lead role was also first-rate.Another noteworthy OVFF event was a panel discussion on the art of the pitch, moderated by actor/writer/musician Chris Mulkey, a long-time Venice resident and community activist. The panelists included writer/producer Mark Israel, writers John Schwartz, Kate Axelrod and producer Valerie Fluegler. The session was fun and informative, as well as brutally honest, with each panelist recounting various war stories from the trenches of Hollywood.The evening ended with the presentation of the Abbot Awards and a party; it felt more like a gathering of friends and colleagues than a stuffy, red carpet event (Take that, Cannes!). So, if you love offbeat film and the joy of watching undiscovered talent, be sure to check out next year’s festival. For more info visit www.veniceofilmfest.com.
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