Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DC REEL AFFIRMATIONS

LOCAL SHORTS PROGRAM

Brian the Gnome Slayer 4
Directors: Brian Tosko, Flip Vanevski

Just when you thought it was safe from the evil doers, Brian the Gnome Slayer returns to remind you that evil still lurks and until it doesn’t the Gnome Slayer will be around to protect you.

Ok, this was fun and very, very campy. I could see a heavy Wonder Woman influence. Lynda Carter is a local girl, so bonus for the tribute!

Truthfully, the plot was nearly impossible to follow, but shame on me for not seeing parts 1-3, I suppose. I really wanted to be in on the jokes! The local audience had a ball, and was full of fans, so I hope these two continue on their mission of saving the world from evil Gnomes.

Houseguest
Director: Michael Chiplock

An unexpected late night knock at the door leads to a revelation about a roommate.
Houseguest is a film that explores one roommate discovering a lifestyle choice about another in a bold way. It begins with a film style that has us in a world that looks a little like a Dove commercial. Once we emerge, we never go back, so it was lacking some consistency.
A lot of the acting was a bit overdone and indicated. I felt like I was being shown things, which is deadly on film. The message of tolerance is a terrific one, however, and I enjoyed the not-so-subtle wit toward the end.

The Preacher and the Poet
Director: Dean Hammer

A DC minister’s infamous anti-gay sermon is juxtaposed with the words of a passionate poet.

This film of social justice was a collage of images and anti-gay sound bytes of Reverend Willie Wilson entwined amongst those of contemporary poet Kenneth Morrison, who challenges homophobia in the African American community. Each is a strong opposing force; they are two whirlwinds doing battle. Wilson has a strong hold in the DC community, but his words are graphic and full of prejudice…propaganda to be sure. Morrison is the new strong voice of reason, equally powerful, percussively elocuting through his poetry the consequences of intolerance and the need for change.

GLLU

GLLU is a short format documentary that tells of how the Metro DC police department has been receiving training in skills they need to protect and serve the GLBT community, which shockingly has come to fear law enforcement more than those who commit crimes against them. Violent crimes simply weren’t being reported in the nation’s capital because it was perceived the police wouldn’t care.
In another film I viewed at the Reel Affirmations film festival, The Walker, when a gay character in Metro DC was attacked, instead of calling the police to report the assault, he did nothing. Art imitates life. Members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities in our city are attacked on the streets, face violence in their own homes, and experience the same types of crimes as straight citizens.GLLU stands for the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. It recently was awarded the prestigious Harvard Innovations in American Government Award. This $100,000 grant is to be used to replicate this type of unit. This film shows in a very concise manner why this unit is so remarkable, the difference it has been making, and why these skills are teachable ones indeed. The GLLU has been established firmly to arm officers with tools of communication, to protect, serve and defend humanely in the DC community. I feel like the nation’s capital is a better place with it in place.

The First Great Lesson I Learned
Director: Ian Cook

An older gay man remembers a key moment in his childhood; a moment that completely changed his life.

This is a performance piece that made the transition from stage to film very well, which is a very tricky thing to do. Ian Cook kept a tight shot on actor Ralph Dennler’s face throughout most of the film and just let him be…letting the camera capture thought, trusting this exceptional artist and marvelous piece of text.

Ian Cook is new to DC and has just relocated the Metro area from Ohio, bringing this script from stage to screen. As we all know, this doesn’t always make for a smooth transition. Too many times, a film audience craves more physical action and change of location onscreen than a stage audience does. In this case, Cook has proven that it is simply not necessary to physically move us one millimeter in order to pull us in and move us to the empathy to being singled out and humiliated by a teacher as a child --whether it was for the difference of being gay or one of a dozen other issues.

Offline
Director: Jon Gann

Frightened of the dating scene, Kurt is cajoled to meet men in a bar instead of behind the safety of his monitor. Will he survive the face-to-face meetings of so many he has seen only virtually?

Wasn’t it just five or so years ago that we were all petrified of dating online? In his adorable new short film, Offline, Jon Gann shows us where we’ve come through our protagonist, Kurt, who literally has to be coaxed into an actual bar to interact and reconnect with real live human beings! Through the convention of animated computer screens initially appearing over everyone’s faces, we see how people have just become sorted into one profile after another. There were a lot of strong performances in this warm piece exploring the rediscovery of humanity in the computer age.

Talk to Me
Director: Spencer C. Parker

What would you say to yourself if you had the chance?
I don’t mind pieces that contain a plot that is non-linear. I actually like them. I just couldn’t find a plot in this one at all, linear or not. I understood that Parker wanted to explore what he would say to himself were he talking to himself, but there has to be an objective in there somewhere. This just lacked forward momentum. As the director and editor Parker may have put so much attention on crafting the effects of this film, which he did very nicely, that other elements suffered.

Carolan

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