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Frenzy Reviews

Shorts

A Short Guide to Small Works at The Maryland Film Festival

Film Fest Frenzy 2002

Lights Out A long spring weekend in a series of darkened rooms. On one level, that's what we're talking about h...

Discuss Music, Video Subjects of Cinema Talk

Coming Attractions Feature Films at the Maryland Film Festival

Shorts A Short Guide to Small Works at The Maryland Film Festival

Posted 4/24/2002

List of shorts is not complete. For the full roster, go to www.mdfilmfest.com/2002/guide.asp#shorts.

Any Creature
Directed by Patrick Daughters
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

On a sunny day, a little girl observes a gruesome traffic accident across a field of grain. She returns home to find her mother on the couch, lulled to sleep by the warm glow of the Home Shopping Network. Like the 2000 feature George Washington, this effervescent short blends beautiful imagery with insight into how a child's mind processes a tragedy when cut adrift from adult guidance. (Eric Allen Hatch)

Animated Shorts Program
May 4, 7 p.m.

I like my animation the old-fashioned way, where the artist sweats over every frame. The more of a technological throwback, the better. If you share this view, there's a lot to recommend at this year's MFF animation program. Many of the entries reflect traditional, frame-by-frame tooncraft; there's even some stop-motion and Claymation-style work, dying arts in the digital age. Another plus: There are a number of gal animators represented, and quite a few local talents too.

When life hands you lemons, make a cute, funny little film about it. That's the approach favored by Los Angeles-based animator Brooke Keesling, whose Boobie Girl was inspired by Keesling's breast-reduction surgery (and is narrated by June Foray, the famed voice of Rocky and Bullwinkle), and D.C.-bred Rachel Max, who sings about her deceased cat in the clever Dead Kitty. Disney/Nickelodeon/MTV vet Pat Smith displays a Bill Plympton-esque visual sense in Drink, about a guy who sips a mysterious potion and finds he's got a lot going on inside that he's aching to purge. Consumption is also an issue in the show-stopping Drunky by ex-MTV animator Aaron Augenblick, wherein beer goggles blind a boozehound to the advances of sexual predators. Drunky perfectly captures the abject horror of the morning after, cotton-mouth and all. Oakland, Calif.-based Tom Gibbons' The Hunger Artist offers a beautifully bleak, expressionist stop-motion take on the Franz Kafka story.

Lisa Yu's abstract, stop-motion Vessel Wrestling seethes with bracing sexuality and feminist consciousness, but the Venice, Calif., animator's manipulation of her media--food, clay, and hair--is just plain stomach-turning. Similarly off-putting is Helder Sun's self-explanatory Lint People; there's just something gross about playing around with residue. Another Claymation short (with some digital enhancement), Baltimorean Brinton Jaecks' Vincent's Pocket (about a leggy vampire at odds with a pint-sized troll), is less gag-inducing but largely incoherent. Sweet Kiss of Gravity, by Oella residents Jill Johnston-Price and Alan Price, also plays the vampire card with a sci-fi take on the Dracula story that's visually absorbing but molasses-paced. At the other end of the rhythm spectrum, Flash animator Marina Zurkow's Parthenogenesis uses precise imagery and symbols to create a brief tribute to New York and its denizens in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Overall, the program is a solid performance for MFF programmers, with Drunky, Drink, Dead Kitty, and The Hunger Artist the must-sees.

Avant-Garde Shorts Program
May 4, 4:30 p.m.

The biggest gripe about avant-garde filmmaking is that the tag is a synonym for "weird" or "serious." This package flirts with both, but offers welcome splashes of humor as well. Chel White's black-and-white short Dirt displays a grim comedic edge with its story of a man whose taste for soil causes him to evolve into his own self-sustaining ecosystem. (In his more grave nonnarrative Passage, White weaves slow-motion underwater images of twirling human bodies with war footage.) Austrian filmmaker Siegfried Fruhauf's strangely entertaining Exposed takes a formally academic idea--the viewer spies upon a loop of a man peeping on a woman--but executes it with a playful wink.

German filmmaker Bjorn Melhus' So Sunshine may be the most indescribable short in this package, even if its form is the most commercial: the music video. Two androgynous beings clad in red mock turtlenecks sing a wistful, trippy song in a chirpy language while standing inside either a spaceship or a giant gum ball. If Terry Gilliam's animation for Monty Python's Flying Circus made you chortle, don't miss Baltimore filmmaker (and Charles Theatre co-operator) John Standiford's Plain English, a collage combining imagery from postwar Japanese cinema with dialogue from an English-as-a-second-language album for a droll conversation between two businessmen at lunch.

Chicago filmmaker Kent Lambert also believes experimental can be funny. His Ken Burns Give You Something loops sound-bite portions from a TV interview with the famed documentarian in a manner that emphasizes Burns' tendency to be long-winded and redundant. Lambert and Mark White's A Boy and His Breakfast is a sarcastic short about a young man whose enthusiastic enjoyment of his morning grapefruit borders on the pornographic.

Sandra Gibson's Soundings blends traditional handmade manipulations on the celluloid itself with found footage of movie icons for an almost elegiac ode to the movies. Even more classically avant-garde are Stom Sogo's two films, Silver Play and Ya Private Sky, which mix found footage, free-associative editing, and a very loose relationship between sound and image. While Sogo's aesthetic is distinctly arty, he is able to inject these shorts with enough splashes of his own idiosyncrasies to keep his work from feeling derivative. (Bret McCabe)

black maria Film festival
May 4, 2 p.m.

A showcase of the best of the annual Black Maria touring festival, featuring nine shorts by filmmakers from as close as Silver Spring and as far away as Austria.

Born Loser
Directed by Stan Mendoza
May 3, noon and May 5, 4 p.m. (part of the Shorts 3 program)

An insurance-office prank lurches out of the pranksters' control in this effective seriocomic short. You can see the first twist in Steve Gambutti's script coming a mile away, but the second one is pretty good, and the five-member cast does a nice job sketching out the little rivulets of love and hate that flow among people doing tedious work in close quarters. Conan O'Brien doppelgänger Bill Dawes is especially good as a ruthless claims adjuster/practical joker. (Andy Markowitz)

Candy Money
Directed by Chris Strother
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

Two kids from an Arkansas trailer park swap trashed tin cans for Moon Pies and cold, hard cash in this first film by Los Angeles-based photographer Chris Strother. With its frank voice-over narration and gritty, low-tech look, you would swear Candy Money is a docudrama about scrapping to survive and the loss of innocence, but the film's end credits reveal it to be fiction. The idea that any kid in the new millennium would be caught wearing a hokey coonskin cap on his bean is a dead giveaway too. (Adele Marley)

Case Studies From the Groat Center for Sleep Disorders
Directed by Mitchell Rose
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

In this short "mockumentary," Dr. L. Peabody Groat Jr. presents several case studies supporting his discovery of Adult Sleep Disorder Induced by Childhood Trauma (ASDICT): the daughter of a spelling-bee champion who wakes up still feeling tired because she is spelling out messages to her mother in her sleep; the child of a family of nine who awakens to pain in his legs because he unknowingly suffers from Autonomous Schtick Syndrome (ASS); and a couple with bed-boundary issues (he is the son of a fanatical Volkswagen dealer and she is the daughter of stuffed-animal-rights activists) who perform a captivating nocturnal dance. Some of Case Studies' jokes fall a little short, but filmmaker Mitchell Rose still manages to deliver a witty commentary on psychology, sleep disorders, and childhood trauma. (Benn Ray)

Epiphany
Directed by Jim Hunter
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

A woman suffers through some kind of existential relationship angst. Or maybe she just imagines she does. Jim Hunter's short is sleekly well made and proffers an arresting metaphor for the process of pairing off, but it's ultimately too coolly aloof and puzzling to really engage on either an emotional or intellectual level. (Andy Markowitz)

Eyeball Eddie
Directed by Elizabeth Allen
May 3, 1:30 p.m. and May 4, 11 a.m. (part of the Shorts 2 program)

The high-school-misfit-coming-of-age yarn is older than Sixteen Candles and rife with more clichés than a Hallmark card, but director Elisabeth Allen and writer Nick Pustay work a witty, bittersweet edge into their short but sassy mash note to the genre. Eddie (Freaks and Geeks' Martin Starr) is a scrawny 140-pound high-school wrestler with only one surefire winning move in his arsenal: popping his glass eye out of its socket and distracting his opponent long enough to pin him. His rise from the team joke to its focal point sparks acceptance then rebuffs first from his coach (M. Emmet Walsh), alpha-male teammate Skelley (Michael Rosenbaum), and the school-paper photographer Layla (Melissa Hunter), who is drawn to Eddie's determination to wrestle despite being bad at it. You can, uh, see where Eyeball is going by the time it establishes Eddie's predicament, but the trip is so engaging you don't care how many times you've seen this story before. (Bret McCabe)

Fater
Directed by Danny Meltzer
May 3, noon and May 5, 4 p.m. (part of the Shorts 3 program)

Wade (played by a wonderfully road-worn Tim Roselle) is a pill-popping truck driver who prefers spaghetti to conversation. He returns home to his family for a brief break from the highway only to find that he can't connect to his wife or son. Director Danny Meltzer manages to offset the film's long silences with beautifully shot scenes of the road, reinforcing Wade's growing disassociation with the world around him. (Benn Ray)

Fluid Movement
Directed by Beth Pacunas
May 3, 6 p.m.

Beth Pacunas' short but exceedingly sweet film about Baltimore's favorite community-oriented-art group should serve as a chlorine-scented madeleine for anyone who caught Fluid Movement's 2001 water ballet Cirque de l'Amour at Patterson Park pool and a revelation and goad to anyone who has missed the group's performances. Pacunas' cameras follow the show from auditions (where a truly inspiring range of people show up to take part), through rehearsals, all the way up to the final hoopla of outlandish pageantry and splashy choreography. In the process, Fluid Movement shows a small community of disparate folks literally coming together, and makes a strong case for the group and its shows having a somewhat similar effect on the Patterson Park area as well. Bonus, Creative Alliance director/gadfly Megan Hamilton offers some cogent theories on Fluid Movement vs. the state of modern art while wearing faux flower leis and a crazy hat. (Lee Gardner)

Given Fish
Directed by Melissa James Gibson and Tim Vasen
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

Set in 1940s-ish Newfoundland, Given Fish follows a man (Craig Mathers, displaying a sharp comedic presence) who goes out for a leisurely row in a boat and ends up saving a drowning girl, the daughter of a local fishmonger. Rewarded with a weekly delivery for his good deed, the man is desperate to escape the piles of wrapped fish mounting on his doorstep. Unfortunately, his actions only serve to further intertwine him in the lives of the fishmonger's family until all debts are repaid in full. Directors Melissa James Gibson and Tim Vasen pack a lot into a relatively brief (20-minute) running time while managing to build a sense of whimsy over the film's darker undertones. (Benn Ray)

Here and There
Directed by Josh Slates
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

Five characters in search of a life, as a series of Gen-Y types comment with a mix of humor and grim resignation on restlessness and rootlessness in three locales (Columbia, Mo.; Baltimore, home of writer/director Josh Slates; and Rochester, N.Y.). It's not quite clear whether Slates is indulging in or satirizing youthful self-absorption--probably a little of both--but once he gets past the too-arch-for-it's-own-good first section, there are surprisingly affecting small epiphanies amid the navel-gazing. (Andy Markowitz)

Hillbilly Robot
Directed by Todd Rohal
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

Titled with deceptive simplicity, Hillbilly Robot starts off as a goofy take on bigotry and ends up a weirdly touching parable of human obsolescence. An overalls-clad automaton (Chris Morse) wanders a desolate urban wasteland, stoically enduring hatred and condescension, while his seemingly inoperative wife (Kelly Conway) is abused by a demented junkman (Ivan Dimitrov) and his son (Rich Schreiber) tries to fit in with the Other Kids. Robot shifts from crazy parody to sly satire to underground-film huh-wha? with oddball comic energy (Dimitrov injects a loony whoosh whenever he appears), while writer-director Todd Rohal subtly ups the thematic ante by shooting in various ravaged corners of Baltimore and D.C. Rohal ties it all together with a final sequence in South Baltimore's abandoned Wagner's Point neighborhood that strikes poignant grace notes of loss and resilience. A strange, funny, very smart film. (Andy Markowitz)

For more on Todd Rohal and Hillbilly Robot, read the full story

The History of Choking
Directed by Abel Klainsbaum
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

Director Abel Klainsbaum chronicles the scientific development of the Heimlich maneuver as a corrective measure against the potentially lethal condition of the small-object impacted trachea, more commonly known as choking. Using training films, movie and TV clips, dramatic re-creations, a moped-riding man named Erick Estrada (no apparent relation to the TV star), and interviews with Dr. Henry Heimlich--the inventor of the maneuver that has unclogged many a blocked windpipe over the years--Choking proceeds at the clipped pace of infomercial. Its product: The fist-in-gut-and-pull motion that dislodges airflow-obstructing objects. (Bret McCabe)

Home
Directed by Paul Rachman
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

Two strangers, casualties of urban alienation who actually look more like supermodels, trail one another through streets and dimly lit hallways amid the blighted backdrop of midtown Manhattan. An item on the Slamdance Festival Web site claims that director Paul Rachman (who helmed last year's Maryland Film Festival feature Four Dogs Playing Poker) spent less than $100 making Home. It doesn't look quite that cheap. (Adele Marley)

Inside Trip
Directed by John P. Giura
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

Finally, an earnest love story about a sensitive jock in Paris! Two physically fit male high-school wrestlers and their large, mentally slow cohort face off on the wrestling mat in a Pennsylvania school gymnasium, as the hero, one of the wrestlers, experiences black-and-white flashbacks of the French woman he left behind. Inside Trip's strongest move may be its nimble soundtrack, which jumps from Prince to French pop to Erik Satie. (Eric Allen Hatch)

Ladies Tea

Nesting Season
Directed by Paula J. Durette
May 4, 7 p.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

Two shorts from director Paula Durette take a wry look at lesbian life. In Ladies Tea, the animated floor plan of Baltimore's main lesbian dance club (accompanied by Durette's narration) smartly reveals why the customers sit, dance, drink, and congregate where they do. In Nesting Season, Durette uses animated bunnies hopping around the calendar to take a funny and critical look at the lesbian cycle of nesting that begins around November and ends right around the Pride festival. (Benn Ray)

Learn to Speak Body--Tape 5
Directed by Mitchell Rose
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

If only choreographer and filmmaker Mitchell Rose's parody of those "learn-a-language" educational tapes wasn't a gag. There are surely scads of folks who would dig instruction on how to interpret body language--it's almost like reading someone's mind. But Rose's execution of the concept is decidedly tongue-in-cheek. Performers from the Portland, Ore.-based dance company BodyVox demonstrate various exaggerated postures and movements used to communicate while a narrator provides smart-alecky interpretation and commentary. (Adele Marley)

LOVE, JOSH
Directed by Susan Hadary and William Whiteford
May 3, 9 p.m. (with the feature Adrift)

The Academy Award-winning directors of King Gimp document a year in the life of a 15-year-old dealing with his father's death from liver cancer.

The Man with a DV Cam
Directed by Justin Adam and Mike Hawley
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

This is one of those movies that ends in a very different place from where it began. It would be a shame to ruin the ending, so here's just the beginning: The movie starts out mimicking the self-mimicry of David Holzman's Diary, the 1968 cult film about a young man making a movie about himself--except, instead of mocking the omnipresent, self-tortured cinéma-vérité artist of the '60s, director Mike Hawley mocks the omnipresent, self-tortured digital-video documentarian of the '00s. (Eric Allen Hatch)

Mean People Suck
Directed by Matthew Cole Weiss
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

If your heart's desire is to watch one of the squeaky-clean teens from TV's Seventh Heaven simulate sex, then look no further than New York University student and filmmaker Matthew Cole Weiss' slick, acidic short Mean People Suck. Weiss must have friends in somewhat high (like, Hollywood Squares-level) places; in addition to the casting of Heaven's Beverley Mitchell (trying to shed that good-girl image, perhaps), he scored Lolita princess Dominque Swain, James Franco of the late NBC cult fave Freaks and Geeks, and some guy named Eric Christian Olsen. Franco, Olsen, and Swain play bored teens comparing stories to see who's the cruelest among them; Mitchell is seen in flashback--her identity is the key to what brings them together. The mystery that unravels in Mean People Suck is a little weak, but the shift in tone from black comedy to dead seriousness goes smoothly, with a considerable assist from the professional cast. (Adele Marley)

Media Whore
Directed by Karl Hirsch
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

Fish, barrel, shotgun. There being almost nothing easier to satirize than airhead MTV/star-hound culture, Media Whore is both lazy and funny. Karl Hirsch's brisk short follows budding "Music Channel" bimbo Astrid (writer Ali MacLean) as she cluelessly chats up second-tier celebs (Taye Diggs, John Doe, MxPx). There's nothing here that hasn't been said/done before, but MacLean's vapid vamping and her subjects' befuddled ad-libbing generate a few chuckles, and her interview with a languidly junk-food-scarfing Coolio is a hoot. (Andy Markowitz)

Mermaids of Brooklyn
Directed by Maddy Lederman
May 3, 6 p.m. (with the short Fluid Movement)

The hepcats of yesteryear dubbed Coney Island "Sodom by the Sea." New York-based filmmaker Maddy Lederman's quickie flick Mermaids of Brooklyn takes a spin through this urban oasis of fun, sun, and splash and finds that not much has changed since the Jazz Age. Lots of flesh, glitter, and far-out getups--and that's just the guys--are exhibited during the Mermaid Parade, Coney Island's annual celebration of summer, and Lederman's quick-paced, narration-free montage captures the pageantry. What a rush. It wouldn't be surprising to see some of this footage pop up on one of those Girls Gone Wild tapes advertised on late-night television. (Adele Marley)

Milk and Honey
Directed by Niva Dorell
At the Heritage CinemaHouse, May 4, 4:30 p.m. (with the feature Too Soon for Sorry)

An African-American soldier travelling home to Chicago from the Korean War encounters racism when he gets ejected from a bus on a dusty Texas highway. He meets a young Israeli woman who offers him a ride. He is very much aware that a black man travelling with a white woman may not be accepted in early-'50s Texas; she has never seen this aspect of America at all. Director Niva Dorell occasionally paints her characters, good and bad, with a broad brush, and as a result the conflicts fought and lessons learned feel a bit too pat. But there's a delicate touch and subtle confidence in her storytelling that confirms the directorial merit that earned her a 2000 Showtime Black Filmmaker Grant, which produced this short. (Bret McCabe)

Open House
Directed by Dan Mirvish
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

Indie director and Slamdance Festival co-founder Dan Mirvish's comic short Open House ponders the dark side of the American dream--well, one of the dark sides. A tightly wound real-estate agent incites a mob of renegade prospective homebuyers to revolt against the house's rightful owners in this silly and surprising flick. Made in the span of a week for the Seattle Film Festival's Fly Filmmaking challenge, Mirvish plans to turn Open House into a feature-length musical to be choreographed by Mitchell Rose, whose short Learn to Speak Body--Tape 5 is also on tap for MFF this year. (Adele Marley)

Paperboys
Directed by Mike Mills
May 3, 1:30 p.m. and May 4, 11 a.m. (part of the Shorts 2 program)

Mike Mills takes a nice idea--talk to a bunch of paperboys about being paperboys--and stretches it almost to the breaking point in this 40-minute documentary. Paperboys is beautifully made, and the subjects--six boys aged 11 to 14 who deliver the daily in suburban Stillwater, Minn.--are engaging as they talk about their lives, their work, and the future of their industry. (More than one predicts that someday the newspaper will be delivered to homes via tubes.) But the film lays on the blue-skies nostalgia a bit thickly and slickly (Mills cut his teeth on commercials and Moby videos), and it's overly fond of its central insight about maintaining old-school/work-ethic values in a gangsta-rap/video-game world. Paperboys has its share of perceptive and winning moments, but it goes on too long and strains too hard to paint an iconic portrait of Boyhood rather than simply telling the story of the boys in this 'hood. (Andy Markowitz)

Pedro & Tony?
Directed by Don Thomas
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

A terrific little film about a dysfunctional relationship between a dog and a chicken. Jokey as the premise sounds, Pedro & Tony? is no gag novelty but a charming and quite genuine exploration of ill communication and its power to screw up a couple, especially when species/cultural differences enter the mix. (There's a credit for "Racial Dynamics Insight.") Writer/director Don Thomas' Puppetoon-like animations are marvelously expressive and familiarly foibled (although part of the film's charm is that the animals aren't completely anthropomorphized; while they live in an apartment, wear clothes, and have furniture and appliances, Tony keeps birdseed in the fridge and Pedro dusts by licking things). And the ending is as romantic as a canine/fowl movie is likely to get. (Andy Markowitz)

Project Redlight
Directed by Robert Peters
May 5, 2 p.m. (part of the Slamdance Shorts program)

After 6,500 filmmakers submit their scripts, vying for a $100,000 budget from Miramax to shoot their movie and to have an HBO documentary series made about the process, the field is narrowed to three: Lord of the Cock Rings, The Organ (a remake of The Piano), and The Magnificent Seven Inches. The winning entry's film features dialogue much wittier than anything in Project Greenlight, the HBO "reality" series that Project Redlight porno-parodies. (Benn Ray)

Slitch
Directed by Diane Bellino
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

Two days in the life of a teenage girl in a seaside town, during which she loses her virginity and endeavors to keep it lost. Written and directed by Baltimorean Diane Bellino, Slitch--a portmanteau of female-directed slurs with which the girl's older sisters nickname her--is a bit poky at times, especially during an amusing but meandering midsection featuring local musico Will Oldham as a surfer Slitch tries to spark up. But the film is refreshingly matter-of-fact about its protagonist's sexual awakening--she tried it, she liked it, she wants to try it again--and doe-eyed Dina Cataldi imbues Slitch with an appealing mix of shyness and slyness. (Andy Markowitz)

Soulmate
Directed by Chel White
May 3, noon and May 5, 4:30 p.m. (part of the Shorts 1 program)

A creepily evocative number about voyeurism and obsession in a this-old-boardinghouse whose proprietor (Vana O'Brien) gets Ideas after one rummage too many through her tenant's stuff. Writer Joe Frank's story sneaks up on you like a slow-building shiver, thanks in large measure to Chel White's deliberate, moody direction and a neatly unsettling turn by O'Brien as the nice, quiet landlady you never quite figure out until it's too late. White is also represented at the festival by Dirt, playing as part of the Shorts 3 program. (Andy Markowitz)

Time Out
Directed by Robbie Chafitz
May 3, noon and May 5, 4 p.m. (part of the Shorts 3 program)

A juvenile battle of wills played out against the milieu of the playground and featuring a cast of adults, Time Out is an incisive, witty short by Towson University grad and New York-based writer/director Robbie Chafitz. During a disciplinary time out, cootie-plagued grade-school voyeur Timmy (Chafitz) matches wits with the paste-eating Bobby (Kirk Ward). A hoot. (Adele Marley)

Zen and the Art of Landscaping
Directed by David Kartch
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

An upper-middle-class mom (Kathleen Garrett) invites the lawn boy (Greg Haberny) in for a cool drink on a hot afternoon; complications ensue when son (Jacob Pitts) and husband (Mark Blum) get home. Zen starts off playing the horny-housewife card but quickly and hilariously escalates to speed through an increasingly feverish series of Shocking Revelations.Writer-director David Kartch's script is a perfectly constructed gem that turns on a dime from deadpan to screwball, and the cast plays every swerve just right. (Andy Markowitz)

Zilch
Directed by Mickey Strider
May 5, 11 a.m. (part of the Comedy Shorts program)

An advertising copywriter with Hollywood dreams sits down to pen his opus, Black Jesus ("It'll be Last Temptation of Christ meets Jurassic Park meets Shaft!"), with the help of Screenwriter 4.0, a software program with an attitude and ideas of its own. Star/writer Brian Fox's script is peppered with hilarious movie-biz zingers, and the punch line is priceless. (Andy Markowitz)

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