Filmapalooza 2023: ‘I Love L.A.’

Exclusive to MeierMovies, March 27, 2023

We’ve partied hard. We’ve networked with fellow filmmakers. We’ve watched films from almost every corner of the Earth. We’ve honored the winning movies. And we’ve heard Kyle Snavely and Olivier Dussausse sing Bohemian Rhapsody. That must mean we’ve just survived another Filmapalooza.

Filmapalooza is the international competition of the 48 Hour Film Project. This year’s event was held in downtown Los Angeles, at the Biltmore Hotel and Regal L.A. Live, March 15-18. Filma included not just screenings of roughly 135 short films but also workshops, the aforementioned parties, a scavenger hunt and pub crawl through the streets of Hollywood, and a special advance screening of Sweetwater, a new feature written and directed by Martin Guigui and starring Cary Elwes and Jeremy Piven, who were in attendance.

Filmmakers from 21 countries attended this year’s Filmapalooza, along with producers from 60 cities. In fact, according to 48HFP Creator and Executive Producer Mark Ruppert, attendance was the highest in the 21-year history of the event, with 550 people at the awards ceremony.

Without further ado, let’s recap the winners. Threshold, by Jartoman from Jacksonville, Florida, United States, was crowned grand champion. (Watch it on YouTube.) Second place went to De Kleine Astronaut (The Little Astronaut) by Nahshon Films, from Rotterdam, Netherlands. And third place was awarded to Le Grand Menage (The Spring Cleaning) by Slipday, from Tours, France.

These three films are headed to the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner later this year, along with 11 others from the main 48 Hour Film Project competition. They are, in alphabetical order:

Accra, Ghana
Dallas, Texas, United States
Detroit, Michigan, United States (by virtue of being the overall audience winner)
Mexico City, Mexico
Nantes, France
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Portland, Oregon, United States
Shanghai, China
Tokyo, Japan
Toronto, Canada
Warsaw, Poland

The winner of the Four Points competition (Arnhem, Netherlands) will also be going to Cannes, along with nine films from the “Yes We Cannes” Global Film Challenge. (That was an invitational contest featuring the first-, second- and third-place teams from each city in 2022. Those teams were invited to make new films during the first weekend of December. Fifteen of those were screened at this year’s Filmapalooza, and eight of those, plus the theme winner, will play at Cannes.)

Other major award winners included Shanghai for direction and cinematography, Toronto for writing and acting ensemble, Rotterdam for lead actor and Nantes for supporting actor. For a list of all winners, go here.

My role at Filmapalooza was unique. As a consulting judge, I assisted Ruppert and the rest of the 48HFP staff by providing feedback on all 105 of the city-winning films from the main competition. That feedback guided the judging process and ultimately helped the final panel of judges, who were tasked with selecting the best three films plus several other top awards.

Mark Ruppert addresses attendees at Wednesday’s opening reception.

But because production quality – especially among the top 40 or so films – was so high this year, the judging process was especially difficult and highly subjective. As I told Mark and others, I could have placed my top 20 in a hat, tossed them into the air and been almost as satisfied with how they landed as I was with my final list – except for my top three, which I felt rose above the rest.

My top movie was Né de la Dernière Pluie (The Last Rain) by Pinksoap Productions, from Paris, France. This beautifully conceived environmental fairy tale captured my heart and actually won best 48HFP French film, beating out two other French films (Tours and Nantes) that are going to Cannes. So it’s a mystery how this one isn’t also going to Cannes. (Watch it on YouTube.)

My runner-up was The Light of Your Life by Monsieur Soeur, from Portland, Oregon, United States. These accomplished artists created a stop-motion animated movie in just 48 hours – an amazing accomplishment by itself. The fact that it’s a clever and charming creation when judged by non-48HFP standards is the cherry on top. I’m glad it’s going to Cannes. I just wish it could have been shown at the awards ceremony. But with a runtime of more than three hours, the ceremony was already quite lengthy. (Watch it on YouTube.)

My third-place pick was the film that the main judging panel chose as their runner-up: De Kleine Astronaut (The Little Astronaut) by Nahshon Films, from Rotterdam, Netherlands, a simple yet profound glimpse into the grieving process of two parents. (Watch it on YouTube.) And in fourth place I have a great little comedy, How to Build a Bird House by Through the Door, from Portland, Maine, United States. (Watch it on YouTube.)

Below you will find the rest of my top 25. An asterisk indicates that film is going to Cannes:

  1. London, England
  2. Bogota, Colombia
  3. Toronto, Canada *
  4. Toulouse, France
  5. Seattle, Washington, United States
  6. Lisbon, Portugal
  7. Mexico City, Mexico *
  8. Dallas, Texas, United States *
  9. Tours, France *
  10. Shanghai, China *
  11. Detroit, Michigan, United States *
  12. Jacksonville, Florida, United States *
  13. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States *
  14. Tokyo, Japan *
  15. St. Louis, Missouri, United States
  16. New York City, New York, United States
  17. Nantes, France *
  18. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  19. Geneva, Switzerland
  20. Montpelier, France
  21. Rennes, France

I’d also like to recognize my three favorite films from the special genre competition: Amsterdam (the winner), Los Angeles and Seattle. (I didn’t provide feedback on these films. I simply saw them as a spectator at Filmapalooza.)

Congratulations again to all the movies screened at this year’s event. And, as always, a big thank-you to the entire 48HFP staff. See you all at Filmapalooza 2024, which, if rumors hold true, could be back in Europe!

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