Short films tend to fall into two categories. Some are blueprints for full-length films and some use the format of the short film for what it is, to observe or narrate with brevity. Both styles were in evidence at the Fall 2008 SMC Film Festival, presented by the SMC Student Filmmakers Association at Santa Monica College November 14.
The 17 films showed that SMC’s film students are at home with film technology – the works were well-edited and well-photographed. One could also see glimpses of future directorial and screenwriting talent (and some fine acting).
Memorable films included:
Silent, but Deadly by Yehoshuah Young. Imagine a Sopranos episode done as a black-and-white silent film with Charlie Chaplin as a hit man. Quite funny, this film shows an understanding for the conventions of silent film comedy.
Heaven in Memory by Kristoph Oedman. Despite a slow pace and the use of subtitles (the characters speak an Eastern European language), this story of a little girl’s relationship her grandfather is understated and poignant.
Love Song for Commandos by Jay Goldwasser. Probably the funniest film on the program, this “music video” of an ABBA song combines original footage with excerpts from an old Arnold Schwarzenegger action pic.
Goldwasser also demonstrated his versatility in a completely different genre with Gaffey on Bikes, a mini-documentary about a guy with a passion for riding bicycles.
The Break-Up by Elba Cabrera. Two young people have the “talk.” The dialogue and acting probably made many in the audience wince with painful recognition.
Aluvogous by Sierra Edwards. An aging man is under treatment for a hallucination that he understandably is reluctant to let go of. This is an example of the type of short film that seems to be a potential feature.
Interrogation by Andrew J. Mosely. It’s the classic confrontation of the chain-smoking cop and the shifty suspect – superbly acted and directed, with a compelling twist, easily the best drama among the films.
Chronicles of Nerdia by David Niggemann. Since movie trailers are short films by definition, why not use the trailer format to make a point and spoof trailers at the same time? That’s what this film does. One anticipates the full-length version, but extending the joke might not be as funny as the trailer version.
Train of Thought by Simon Lebsekal. A mental patient talks with his doctor. Or is the doctor the one with the problem? Another tricky film in which things are not what they initially seem.
Other films included music videos “Arsi Nami-100 Miles” by Dany Sery, and “Journey to Fame” by A. Stenzak; Will It End? by Mazzin Chaudhary and Nick Courtney, a documentary about racism; the brief thriller Have You Seen My Wife? by Christopher Glenn; the relationship study Second Chance by Herve Claude Achi; and of course, a few quickie bits of college humor with Michael Althaus’ “At The Bus Stop” and “Apple Dessert” (a Psycho homage), and Kyle Mengelkamp’s Sour Grapes. This last named film employed the film medium to hit the audience with the realization that they had just seen a visualization of a really dirty joke.
SMC film professor Josh Kanin told the Mirror that SMC is the only community college on the Westside that has a full film program. Judging by the efforts on view at this screening, the outstanding work of SMC’s film students should be supported by the community.