This can be a busy time of 12 months on the subject of the native movie scene. The state hosts three of its bigger festivals again to again to again: the Scorching Springs Documentary Movie Pageant, the Fayetteville Movie Pageant, and the Arkansas Cinema Society’s Filmland. I all the time attempt to attend as many screenings as I can afford, and consider me, it could actually get expensive; after a month of consuming nothing however options, documentaries and shorts, it could actually depart your mind feeling a bit melted. Actually, my mind is someplace close to a grilled cheese consistency for the time being, and pageant season is not even over but. This previous weekend, the Fayetteville Movie Pageant passed off and like most “fests,” there was some good, some dangerous, and a few downright uncommon.
As I arrived within the Metropolis of the Hogs, they have been already hanging up Christmas decorations. Metropolis employees decked out of their orange vests have been making an attempt to dangle gaudy, glittery balls from the bushes of the middle sq.. As I approached the College of Arkansas International Campus, I used to be greeted by what first gave the impression to be a big rubbish truck with an enormous film display screen and audio system hooked up to its facet. 5 minutes within the metropolis, it already felt like I used to be in Bizarro world. Quickly the display screen on the facet of the huge cinema truck lit up and quick movies began taking part in.
The pageant’s plan for the opening night time block social gathering was to have an out of doors screening whereas internet hosting a mixer. At first I used to be a bit skeptical of this method, as folks like me who wished to look at the movies sat towards the cinema truck, and individuals who wished to combine and mingle have been within the again speaking, consuming, and having a superb time. However I’ll say, I kinda loved this format. The very fact that there have been a number of music movies and experimental movies that performed throughout that first block nearly added to the social gathering ambiance. Plus, it was kinda cool seeing the solar slowly set behind the truck. However the pageant was fairly fortunate that the climate for the weekend was good and comfy.
As soon as the partying was over, it was time for the opening night time function, “American Assassin,” which in some way took residence greatest narrative function. This crime/thriller focuses on the true life story of Jason Derek Brown, performed by Tom Pelphrey, a charismatic con man. He has been on the FBI’s most wished checklist for effectively over a decade at this level. The film examines Brown’s life from numerous angles, and tries to depict how a run-of-the-mill rip-off artist turns into an internationally sought-after assassin. The film comes off as a poor man’s “Catch Me If You Can”; half the film we comply with an FBI agent, performed by Ryan Phillippe, as he hunts down the egotistical con artist. Stylistically, although, the film is fractured, as we soar forwards and backwards from previous to current — to a disorienting diploma. The entire movie performs much less like a film and extra like a real crime podcast. However then once more, that type is in style today. “American Assassin” begins in theaters and streaming this weekend.
The second day of the pageant fared higher. There was a heavy deal with what makes this explicit pageant particular: the Fayetteville Movie Prize. This contest permits native filmmakers to face in entrance of a panel and pitch an thought for a movie, and one fortunate winner, they’re awarded a prize of $2,000 to make their pitch right into a actuality. Friday morning, the pageant hosted a workshop for all of the contestants on the “artwork of the pitch.” Christopher Barkley and Nicholas Buggs from Bonsai Artistic, a consulting agency for impartial filmmakers, got here by to assist the contestants study the ropes of how one can promote, not simply their concepts however themselves, in entrance of the judges. It is only a disgrace that the panel solely lasted an hour or so, as I felt they solely scratched the floor of this explicit subject. I do know after I was educating movie on the College of Central Arkansas, I might spend an entire week on pitching. However I am certain the novice filmmakers within the competitors obtained some good nuggets of knowledge out of the panel.
All through the remainder of Friday, a plethora of native filmmakers began to point out up as Fayetteville does an ideal job at selling native expertise. There have been two fascinating native documentary shorts: “South,” which follows an 18-year-old autistic teenager and his distinctive expertise for sculpting; and “Uncharted,” an emotional take a look at three tiger cubs with beginning defects because the crew at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge tries to rehabilitate them. A number of native narrative shorts got here from the UCA: Donavon Thompson’s “Kronos,” a formidable “True Detective”-style crime thriller that additionally has a contact of a Spielbergian coming-of age aesthetic; and Daniel Wingfield’s “Lowlifes,” about gang banging in Little Rock within the ’90s.
I bumped into Johnnie Brannon, the pageant director for the Made in Arkansas Movie Pageant, and he summed issues up fairly properly. “The one factor I like most about this pageant is its timeless assist of Arkansas filmmakers. There may be nothing pretentious about this pageant. They make everybody really feel welcomed and everybody really feel heard. They deserve as a lot assist as they offer to this state’s movie group.”
I agree, wholeheartedly. This pageant, above all others, helps bridge the hole between the Central Arkansas movie group and the Northwest Arkansas filmmakers. They strengthen the native expertise pool and foster relationships with exterior filmmakers — one thing each pageant ought to aspire to.
When you could have gone to as many festivals as I’ve, you construct this inherent expectation that the standard of films goes to be hit or miss. I’ve already talked about I did not look after “American Assassin,” however that is nearly forgivable, as a result of a nasty function is nowhere close to as unbearable as a nasty quick movie. Probably the most insufferable quick movie of the weekend was “Rocks 4 Sale!,” which is 16 minutes of children promoting rocks to vacationers in an outdated mining city. The primary two minutes of the movie have been fascinating, however by the one centesimal time I heard a child yell out “ROCKS FOR SALE!” I had had sufficient.
This final difficulty I’ve, has much less to do with the pageant, and extra to do with our movie group. One in every of my largest pet peeves on the subject of our native festivals is when filmmakers come and watch their film on the massive display screen, after which promptly depart after it is over, opting to not stick round for his or her fellow filmmakers’ movies, or the opposite movies that the pageant has meticulously curated. I’ve by no means actually understood this angle; a filmmaker I attempt to expose myself to as many movies (good and dangerous) as attainable. It is the easiest way to study and watching different native movies is simply an effective way to community and uncover new expertise you could wrangle in in your subsequent undertaking.
Each movie pageant has its execs and cons, however this 12 months’s Fayetteville Movie Pageant had extra good issues happening than dangerous. It is a pageant that each native filmmaker ought to attend. Not solely as a result of there’s an opportunity to win $2,000, however since you’ll make mates with different like-minded professionals and also you would possibly discover yourselves sitting at Hugo’s, down the road, having fun with an ideal burger and yelling “Rocks on the market!” at your waitress.