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The 2004 Chicago “Really” Short Film Festival

Good Beer...Good People...GREAT FUN!
by Erik Childress

Attending film festivals for the past couple years, along with the amazing feature films we get to see, we’re usually also treated to some creative short subjects which play in front of them. Sometimes just for the critics. Sometimes in front of packed houses. These shorts range in quality just like the features, but some gems stand out. Occasionally enough to warrant wishes of funding for feature length. This week The Abbey Pub in the Windy City is taking it a step further by hosting The Chicago “Really” Short Film Festival. In a single night, there will be live music, food, drink and a wide variety of short films. Yours truly has been asked to participate in judging the festival. The grand prize winner will be shown on WTTW’s Image Union and receive a monetary award and one lucky winner will also be party to the special “eFilmCritic.com Award” for excellence.

You must be 21 to attend the event. No two drink minimums, just a $9 cover charge at the door or only $8 in advance or with a cover of the official fest flyer. The Abbey Pub is located at 3420 W. Grace in Chicago (Fest Flyer). In-between films the crowd will be entertained by the likes of odd*is*he, The Mystechs and Truckstop Supermodel. In-between the live bands, you will get to see the films I’ve had the pleasure of judging. My final votes are locked away until Friday, but here’s a little preview of what’s in store for you.


30 Pack & A Camera
Starring: Kevin Bruce and Chad Larys
Directed, Written & Produced by: Kevin Bruce & Chad Larys
How short? 7 minutes

“We gave these guys a 30-pack and a camera and this is what we got back.” At first, this “experiment” seems more adept for viewing after a night out drinking with your friends when the mere act of just trying to drink beer becomes funny. After the two guys settle into their assignment, the night of drinking turns into a riotous “rules” exchange for such a night peppered as a series of segments based upon NBC’s “The More You Know.” I particularly loved Rule #36. Each rule though is hilarious and I’d personally be willing to sit through all of them with these guys provided they had some more screen time.

Brother “Scooter” Max
Starring: Joe LaRocco
Directed & Produced by: Rob Zellner
Written by: Rob Zellner and Joe LaRocco
How short? 10 minutes

He’s Brother Max because he preaches the word of the Lord. He’s “Scooter” Max because he does it all from his trusty scooter. Wearing a sandwich board warning about sin, Max takes to the streets in an all-day campaign that draws more snickers than conversions. “I’m not silly. Sin is silly.” And so is the film, in a good way, for a little while anyway. Essentially it’s a one-joke premise and the antics work for about five of the ten minutes. Then it becomes tiresome and you’re liable to be looking for more.

Starring: TXT
Directed by: John Meadows and Chris Harris
Cinematography by: Rick Knoell
How short? 5 minutes

A music video by the group TXT set to a cover version of the Rare Earth classic “Celebrate” remolded as a hip-hop punk tribute while a lot of people around the singers have fun and, well, celebrate. Gets a bit repetitive over its four-and-a-half minutes, but its solidly put together and is liable to get everyone jumping, pumping their fists in the air and singing along with the chorus.

Cruel to be Kind
Starring: Jesse Kaye, Melanie Canter
Directed & Written by: Jesse Kaye
Produced by: Jesse Kaye & Brian Jude
How short? 12 minutes, 29 seconds

Hell hath no fury like a breadwinning woman spurned when bothering her husband taking a dump. Imagine Scorsese’s After Hours set during the daytime, only not as manic. Film needs a little tightening, but it starts strong, ends with a nice callback and perpetrates a nice statement on the institution of marriage.

The Dirty Immigrants – All For One
Starring: Bryan Irzyk, Brendan Mackey, Jeff Wolinski, Mike Wolinski
Directed by: Michael Wolinski
Written by: The Dirty Immigrants
Produced by: Shaun Fox
How short? 15 minutes

The Kids In The Hall…Broken Lizard…and now, The Dirty Immigrants. They have one less member than the Kids or the Lizards but they are well on their way to capturing the brand of subversive humor that goes back to the days of Monty Python. This brief collection of sketches is a solid highlight reel starting with a date where the man brings an unlikely appendage for that “just in case” scenario. The joke won’t be spoiled here, although its worth noting that the build-up of the sketch recalls some of the brilliance of the Kentucky Fried Theatre. A commercial for…ahem…relief medication leads into a final sketch about a group of friends who dig a hole, but then need a body to fill it. Solid laughs in all three segments, with the first being the highlight.

A Fighting Chance
Starring: Vicki Kunz, Katie Neff, Staci Roberts, Heather Connelly, Cary Cronhom, Mackenzie Soedt
Directed, Written & Produced by: Staci Roberts and Mackenzie Soedt
How short? 10 minutes

Starts off as a takeoff on the old Monty Python “milkmen” sketch only to dissolve rather quickly into an uninspired and somewhat disturbing tale about the “rise and fall of Brownie Troop 741.” A old woman has lured them one-by-one into captivity so her granddaughter can win the cookie competition. One clever bit has the girls too dumb to realize an obvious chance at escape and soon we’re inside their minds until the silly-looking payoff which isn’t very funny and lumbers on like the rest of the film. There’s an idea here, but its not fully realized. Even at 10 minutes.

Grave Invitations
Starring: Amy Harmon, Andrew Dannhorn
Directed, Written & Produced by: David Schmidt
How short? 9 minutes

Baked in yellow-tinged cinematography, a young man has visions of the love in his life that died. A moody, ghost story with some nifty optical effects but its all mood and not particularly creepy or scary. Great looking but ultimately flat.

Kid Proof
Starring: Kyler Kulasik
Directed, Written & Produced by: Sky (Laurie Mainczyk-Kulasik)
How short? 8 minutes, 6 seconds

When it begins, it looks like we’re witnessing a minor classic in the making. A camera follows around a crawling baby, speeding up and slowing down, looking directly at us with the most evil of baby eyes. It’s hard not to fall down laughing at some of his antics even if America’s Funniest Home Videos might have rejected the tape on the grounds of child cruelty. The crux of the piece is the baby’s mom narrating her thoughts on the past of being single and the irresponsible carefree nature that leads the baby to wreck holy havoc around the house. The narration bogs down the proceedings and steals the baby’s thunder too often, but this is fun stuff and Baby Kyler is worth the price of admission alone.

Luci D
Starring: Bryan Irzyk, Carrie MacDonald, Melissa McGurren, Ti Kenneth Hays
Directed by: Rick Ramirez
Written by: Rick Ramirez
Produced by: Sarah E. Dyer
How short? 15 minutes

Luci D was unfinished as this was going to print. The full version will premiere at the fest. What was seen though was a trailer that resonated with intrigue (not to mention a good-looking, ahem, dancer) and is enough to spark anyone’s curiosity about the final product. Here is the description from Maia Entertainment:

”Luci D is a play on words, colors, sounds, and visuals. For Charlie Green she’s a constant reminder from his past. A past that holds truths he would like revealed. But revelations aren’t easy to come by when you’re dealing with this elusive girl. “Just close your eyes, baby.”

Portugese Bend
Starring: Brian Camalleri, Collen Kelly, Ray Fulton, Jackson Smith
Directed by: John Harrigan
Written by: John Harrigan
Produced by: John Harrigan
How short? 5 minutes

A pretty cool little music video given more weight with a terrific song. A singer, a woman and two mysterious dudes running around with a microphone goes forward and backward providing us with the option of what we should be paying attention to – the visuals or the song. My advice – do both.

Punks and Broads
Directed, Written & Produced by: Rick Knoell
How short? 10 minutes

Every April in Michigan, the Detroit Music Awards are held at the State Theater. With names like Trash Brats and Broadzilla and an arena full of punk dress, you’d be surprised to find a range of musical genres on hand to perform and compete for awards. I certainly was considering that filmmaker Rick Knoell focused on one band, Riot In Progress, and their latest shot at the evening’s honorary award for their field. Humorously, when not throwing down the microphone mid-verse, they acknowledge that the minute you win an award, the fans leave. (There’s an idea for a short film right there!) Knoell does a nice job offering an array of performance and interviews so that even if the music isn’t your cup of tea, you’re still interested in experiencing more.

Rehearsal Time
Starring: Ti Kenneth Hays, Annie Mackay, Dana DeLorenzo, Sarah E. Dyer, Bryan Irzyk
Directed by: Rick Ramirez
Written by: Rick Ramirez
Produced by: Sarah E. Dyer
How short? 10 minutes

Another film that was still in the finishing stages right up until fest time. The full version will premiere at the fest and I wish there was a screener too because the provided description looks rather interesting.

”Rehearsal Time is a classic tale about not seeing the forest for the trees. It’s denying good advice from a close friend. It’s getting your heartbroken by the one you love…again. It’s not realizing the one who fits you best is close at hand. It’s waiting for that sweet surprise to come along.{

Rules of the Game
Starring: Bruce Davison, Evan Ellingson, Karl Hamann, Lizzy Lahive, Harry Karp, Josh Skinner
Directed & Written by: Marton Varo, Jr.
Produced by: Aimee Holguin and Dawn Canada
How short? 11 minutes

Without a doubt the most professional-looking of the festival’s shorts, this piece even manages to have THE Bruce Davison with top billing. Two hold-up men try to negotiate their way out of the comic book store they’re keeping hostages in. A young boy purports to know the “rules of the game”, but in more of a McFarlane than Renoir way. Unfortunately, those rules are never clear to us and the action doesn’t live up to the story or its individual moments. It does have a nice, cynical ending but it’s disappointing to see something with so much going for it to fall so short of greatness.

Season’s Greetings
Starring: Ed “Frosty” Burr, James W. Harris, Kelsey Fritz
Directed, Written & Produced by: James W. Harris
How short? 1 minute 57 seconds

Cooler than anything in either Jack Frost killer snowman movies, 50 times funnier than, well, that Michael Keaton Jack Frost and more entertaining special effects than episode #813 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (entitled Jack Frost.) In less than two minutes, Ed Wood and Martin Landau have been done proud.

Starring: Sean Reynolds, Gillian King, Derek Clifford
Directed by: Michael W. Meyer
Written by: Michael W. Meyer
Produced by: Michael W. Meyer
How short? 9 minutes

Few film noirs have captured the frantic styling of a door-to-door pencil salesman. This one does it quite well, narrated from front-to-back in perfectly grainy black-and-white. Sold is a solid satire that mixes commercialism, capitalism and even communism into one creative tribute to a golden age of filmmaking.

Ted McGillicutty, Man of Action
Starring: Dave Colan, Shaun Himmerick, Lance Hoffman, Andrea Swanson
Directed, Written & Produced by: Fuzzy Gerdes
How short? 4 minutes, 28 seconds

Ted McGillicutty, Man of Action is so funny that it may not strike you until near the end of its 4 minutes that it’s all been one unbroken shot. Imagine sticking in every cop movie cliché you can into a confined setting that our hero must maneuver through. In just a few minutes, filmmaker Fuzzy Gerdes and star Dave Colan (whose style strikes one as a cross between Will Ferrell and Philip Seymour Hoffman) produce a satire that gloriously pokes fun at those tidbits savvy moviegoers grow weary of. Truly hysterical stuff.

Untitled Experimental Film
Directed & Produced by: Alex Stockwell
How short? 4 minutes, 47 seconds

Inspired by the hand-painted films of the late Stan Brakhage, this is basically a collage of light, color and rhythms with a music video beat and reverb that reminds one of the silver screen shows you see at dance clubs.

Worst Cop Ever
Starring: Bryan Irzyk, Brendan Mackey, Jeff Wolinski, Mike Wolinski
Directed by: Michael Wolinski
Written by: The Dirty Immigrants
Produced by: Shaun Fox
How short? 4 minutes, 1 second

The Dirty Immigrants are back in this separate sketch from the All-In-One compilation. While it does contain a few laughs, it’s a little broader and not nearly as clever or funny as the others. The title pretty much says it all as “wackiness ensues” over a crime scene.

MAIA Entertainment
WTTW – Image Union

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1081
originally posted: 04/08/04 12:55:40
last updated: 11/03/04 19:28:47
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