AOF International Film Fest 2007
By Allison Jean Eaton
I’m no film critic (actually, I’m quite a novice), but I definitely enjoyed my time at this year’s Action on Film International Festival July 27-29. Once again taking place in sunny Long Beach, Calif., and again tied to a major martial arts tournament, known on the street collectively as the Long Beach Internationals, the festival’s third year was, according to proponents, its biggest and best yet.
I arrived Sunday, the final day of the fest, not knowing what to expect. Knowing I only had a couple of hours to peruse the scene, I politely scoured various folding tables piled high with fliers and movie posters for films I’d be able to catch in one of the nine theaters before heading out.
The first I ducked into was Razor Sharp, 25-minute short that, while full of impressive special effects and incredibly action-packed, was not my cup of tea. Directed by Marcus Perry, the story line goes something like this: a vixenish, professional white-collar thief’s next assignment is to rip off an exotic, state-of-the-art code cracker that, once in her possession, tests her morality and abilities as a corporate burglar. Did I mention this all takes place in a skyscraper? Oh, yes! If you like movies like Die Hard, then you should definitely check this one out.
Luckily, I was also able to catch Imperial Violet, which I would have missed save for a few members of the film crew/cast being caught in traffic and the short’s not starting at its scheduled time. Todd Violet has just turned 15 and his father recently walked out on he and his mom. Looking to the streets to find himself (or lose himself, depending upon how you look at it), he turns to dealing drugs.
I spoke briefly with Director Peter B. Siesennop, who won this year’s Best Director award. In fact, the 15-minute short walked away with two awards – the other for Outstanding Cast Performance. Shot in Los Angeles in a neighborhood near the airport, Siesennop, who studied film at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said it took just six days to shoot and cost $40,000.
Although the short traverses a very heavy topic in just a matter of minutes, the storyline doesn’t seem rushed or overacted, and the main characters are kept simple so as to not detract from the adrenaline rush of drugs, guns and masked men running down alleyways with drugs and guns.
I was only able to stay for a bit, but I’d definitely say I’d return to this festival in future years. The set up was laid-back and the atmosphere, overall, very casual. If you’re looking for a spot where you can talk up a director and part of his or her crew three minutes before heading into another great flick, Action on Film is going to be your best bet.