Filmapalooza 2016

Atlanta extends red carpet to Filmapalooza moviemakers

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All photos are copyright Cameron Meier. Click to enlarge.

Exclusive to MeierMovies.com, March 8, 2016

The 48 Hour Film Project’s 2016 Filmapalooza, held in Atlanta on March 2-5, will be remembered for three things: the camaraderie made possible by the proximity of the theatre to the official hotel; the third victory in a row for the Netherlands; and the amazing contribution of the French group Compose it Art, whose three city-winning films all landed in my personal top 10.

All films – including the 128 city winners from 2015, 13 special genre winners, two 48 Day feature films, and two Four Points Film Project films – were screened at the SCADshow Performing Arts Theater. And because that venue was right across the street from the official Filmapalooza hotel and main party location (W Hotel Midtown), filmmakers were easily able to mingle, meet fellow participants, watch films and attend seminars. Yes, the screening venues were fairly close to the official hotels at the previous two Filmapaloozas (in New Orleans and Los Angeles), but this year’s festival was especially well run in that regard. (And the only major event that was held at another location – Big Peach Studios – was still easily accessible to filmmakers because of a free bus that ran continuously between that location and the hotel.)

DSC01403In addition to films and seminars, there were parties galore. Particularly memorable were the closing-night gala at the W Hotel’s ballroom and the several (rather drunken) after-parties at Joe’s on Juniper (just a few blocks from the hotel).

Despite all the revelry and networking, the films were still the focus. And the overall winner for the third consecutive year was from the Netherlands – this time from Amsterdam. Unforgettable, by team Take 23, charmed not just the three judges (who gave it best film, best writing and best directing) but many audience members. Though it was my #4 choice, there’s no question that it was, well, unforgettable.

Most memorable for me personally was the group Compose It Art, who won three cities in 2015: Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand, in France, and Brussels, Belgium. Indeed, it seems like they are following in the footsteps of another successful 48 Hour Film Project team, Les Parasites, who won four cities the previous year. (Three of those four films by Les Parasites ended up in my top five last year. And the fourth might have too, if I had seen it.)

DSC01402Films were presented in two theaters within the SCADshow venue. Because screenings overlapped, just like last year in Los Angeles, it was again impossible for one to see all the films. Though that was disappointing, the continued expansion of the 48 Hour Film Project makes it difficult to show all films in just one theater. To accomplish that, the event would have to expand by one day or perhaps get rid of the feature films or seminars, which focused this year on topics as varied as zombie makeup, film financing and the cinematic art of Alfred Hitchcock. (Based on attendees I spoke with, opinion was divided on the usefulness of this year’s seminars, though all said they were glad they were held.)

The larger of the two theaters held 375 people. That’s smaller than the largest venue at last year’s Filmapalooza, which was held at the TCL Chinese Theatres multiplex in Hollywood, adjacent to the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. However, because attendance this year was about 350 – down from roughly 450 in 2015 – all attendees were able to squeeze into the theater (though just barely) for the awards ceremony. That ceremony featured an enjoyable screening of the top films and trophy presentations that ran much more smoothly (and faster) than the 2015 ceremony in Los Angeles, thanks to good organization by 48 Hour Film Project founders Liz Langston and Mark Ruppert, and some witty banter by emcees (and well-known actors) Ric Reitz and Wilbur Fitzgerald.

DSC01393The one major complaint came from filmmakers whose movies screened in the smaller theater. Because that one was downstairs, had a capacity of just 185 and featured folding chairs, the filmmakers said they felt relegated to second-class status. Still, the convenient location seemed to make up for that. And the switch from a Thursday-Sunday schedule to a Wednesday-Saturday one was a hit with all I spoke to, as it meant Sunday could become a travel day.

“I think we’ve had incredible energy here at this Filmapalooza,” said Langston, adding that Atlanta’s warm hospitality – not to mention the city’s status as a new filmmaking mecca – made it a good choice for the annual event.

 

Judges’ picks

The three judges selected 13 films for the “best of” screening on Saturday night. They also picked the top four overall films and awarded several other prizes, including awards for acting, editing, cinematography, writing and directing.

Here are the judges’ picks for best films:

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Unforgettable, by Take 23
  2. Bratislava, Slovakia: Dakujem za Krasne Sviatky (Thank You for the Wonderful Christmas), by Na Kolene Production
  3. Lyon, France: Les Temps des Adieux (Time to Say Goodbye), by Compose It Art
  4. Leeuwarden, Netherlands: Ritus, by Kokosnoten

DSC01394Other films selected by the judges (alphabetical, by city):

Cali, Colombia: Avril, by Kromaphono
Cote d’Azur, France: Les Témoins (Witnesses), by RIP Productions
Greensboro, North Carolina, United States: Gotta Go, by the Magic Shop
Nairobi, Kenya: Bait, by Kibanda Pictures
Nashville, Tennessee, United States: Everyday Yeti, by Paper Ghost Pictures
Nijmegen, Netherlands: Glimp, by Lucas Camps Producties
Orlando, Florida, United States: Wake Up, by Aja On Tour
Osaka, Japan: Werther; Django, by Desire
Toronto, Canada: Stephanie’s Room, by Atom Projections

awards ceremony

Left to right: Liz Langston, Mark Ruppert, Ric Reitz and Wilbur Fitzgerald

Though the list of films going to the Cannes Film Festival differed slightly last year from the “best of” list, the two lists were virtually identical this time. However, as of press time, the 48 Hour Film Project could not confirm whether the Cannes Film Festival would have room for all 13 of the above films. The one “maybe” remains Glimp from Nijmegen, Netherlands.

In addition to these 12 (possibly 13) movies, Cannes’ “Short Film Corner” will feature three more films that were automatically guaranteed a spot in advance: Who Am I (the winner of the Four Points Film Project); Gill, by Super Bathing Attitude from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; and Falling in Love in a Coffeeshop, by Wax Idiotical Films from New Haven, Connecticut, United States.

 

My picks

Because at least 15 films are going to Cannes, I thought it appropriate to make a top 15 of my own. But please note that because of the overlapping structure of the screenings, I missed 33 of the 128 city-winning films, including most of blocks C, F and H. (An asterisk refers to the films guaranteed a spot in the Cannes Film Festival, as of press time.)

  1. Lyon, France: Les Temps des Adieux (Time to Say Goodbye), by Compose It Art *
  2. Clermont-Ferrand, France: Mon Frere (My Brother), by Compose It Art
  3. Los Angeles, California, United States: The List, by Amalgamated Grommets
  4. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Unforgettable, by Take 23 *
  5. Brussels, Belgium: La Mort est un Homme Ordinaire (Death is an Ordinary Man), by Compose It Art
  6. Nairobi, Kenya: Bait, by Kibanda Pictures *
  7. Jerusalem, Israel: Mini Mental, by the Bar Mitzvah Boys
  8. Tours, France: Embryo, by Couple Eternel (featuring filmmakers from last year’s team Les Parasites)
  9. Osaka, Japan: Werther; Django, by Desire *
  10. Edinburgh, Scotland: Bert’s Christmas Surprise, by Beyond Studios
  11. Nijmegen, Netherlands: Glimp, by Lucas Camps Producties
  12. Orlando, Florida, United States: Wake Up, by Aja On Tour *
  13. Portland, Maine, United States: Phoebe, Tom and Teddy, by Through the Door Productions
  14. Toronto, Canada: Stephanie’s Room, by Atom Projections *
  15. Cali, Colombia: Avril, by Kromaphono *
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Liz Langston (second from left) poses with filmmakers in front of a green screen at the Big Peach Studios party on Friday night.

My honorable mentions (in alphabetical order, by city):

Atlanta, Georgia, United States: Fawn, by the Full Lock Media Collective
Greensboro, North Carolina, United States: Gotta Go, by the Magic Shop *
Mongolia: Father, by Absolute Pictures Studios
Richmond, Virginia, United States: Fool Me Twice, by Pixel Drop
San Francisco, California, United States: FuzzFeed, by Team Bugbear
Singapore: The Anniversary, by Team Zissou

In addition to these films, I should cite the aforementioned Who Am I, by NOBS, which won the Four Points Film Project and will also be going to Cannes. Because it’s not a 48 Hour Film Project film, I didn’t place it in my top 15, but it’s certainly worthy of inclusion.

 

More information on the “48”

The 48 Hour Film Project is the world’s largest timed filmmaking competition, and Filmapalooza is its signature international annual event. To create a 48 Hour Film Project movie, filmmakers must write, shoot and edit a film between 4 and 7 minutes long in just two days. Though teams can be formed in advance, locations scouted and equipment procured, everything else must be done in just 48 hours. And to help prevent cheating, filmmakers draw a genre at the beginning of the process, and they also must incorporate a prop, a character name and trait, and a line of dialogue.

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Filmapalooza was held just a few blocks from the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum, where the author wrote “Gone with the Wind.”

For additional information about Filmapalooza and a complete list of this year’s winners, see https://www.48hourfilm.com/filmapalooza/#/. For my article on the 2015 Filmapalooza, see http://www.meiermovies.com/filmapalooza-2015/. For the 2014 event, which focused on Orlando’s journey to Filmapalooza, see http://www.meiermovies.com/filmapalooza-its-hard-to-win-in-the-big-easy/.

Ruppert and Langston have yet to announce the location of next year’s Filmapalooza, but they and others have voiced enthusiasm for Paris. If so, jusqu’à ce que nous nous reverrons (until we meet again), in the City of Lights. Bon voyage!

Copyright 2016 © Cameron Meier