The HollyShorts Film Festival kicked off at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood with a star-studded red carpet. The festival celebrates the short film format with over 300 projects in-competition and 50 world premieres from all over the world.
“Short films are good for the film business because there are so many different ways to get your media out there right now, so lots of actors and filmmakers and writers are able to get your stuff shown in ways that they couldn’t even 10 years ago,” explains actress Ashley Williams of Royal Pains and How I Met Your Mother. “It is a medium and a genre not going anywhere so I’m glad it is being celebrated now and honored as true filmmaking.”
The night celebrated independent cinema both new and old. After introducing each of the films that would be shown, host Ben Lyons introduced the 2012 HollyShorts Visionary Award winner, director Joe Carnahan. The filmmaker, best known for films such as The A-Team and The Grey gave some advice to his fellow filmmakers. “This can be a tough business but if you’re here and you’re creating you’re on the right course. If it is easy, you’re doing something wrong,” he joked with the audience.
After the award ceremony the festival jumped into high gear with a series of short films from a variety of filmmakers. The festival should be commended for showing such a wide spectrum of films ranging from animation to documentary and music video. This gives everyone a chance to shine and puts projects that wouldn’t otherwise get any sort of release in front of a large audience.
Each of the films screened on opening night spoke to a select audience but all of them seemed to touch the crowd that night. It is fitting that the first in the series was Marc Brener’s tongue-in-cheek comedy Say It Ain’t Solo. The satire follows the reaction Hollywood and the rest of the world has that a major film studio is remaking Star Wars: A New Hope.
What follows is hilarious reactions from prominent film figures like Christopher Lloyd, Jason Alexander, Joe Mantegna and others who are against the idea of rebooting such a classic film. The message of the movie is clear, it is time for Hollywood to come up with some new ideas and stop rehashing old material. While it would never work as a feature film, the movie is proof of just how good shorts can be; this one is ready to be a cult classic!
The other standout of the night was Zachary Guerra’s violent masterpiece The Devil’s Dosh. Created as a homage to British gangster films, the movie follows a young boy that helps clean up a brothel just after World War II in England’s East End. Badly abused by his mother and forced to make a decision that would destroy anyone, we see him transform from a boy into a man, by any means necessary. This is the kind of film Martin Scorsese would have made about 30 years ago. It is smart, original and a couple of scenes will have you wincing in your seat. Guerra explains that this is just a side-story to a much larger film he is working on and one can only hope that is true.
The night concluded with a series of short sketches presented by Periods.Fims that, while entertaining, were a little too scattered. Using mostly the same cast in each short the sketches give a unique and funny look at history through modern eyes. The best moments included an interview with God called G-Chats and an early look at Adam, Eve and Stacey.
The HollyShorts Film Festival runs through Aug. 16 at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. For more information and a complete list of events visit Hollyshorts.com.