Obrigado, Lisboa!

A review of Filmapalooza 2024

Exclusive to MeierMovies, April 3, 2024

We partied, we mingled, we karaoked, we workshopped, we screened more than 140 short films, and, most importantly, we ate more pastéis de nata (custard tarts) than Portuguese laws allow. So maybe it’s a good thing the official hotel, the Dom Pedro, refused to turn on its air-conditioning, as we were able to sweat off those extra calories. Yes, that’s officially a wrap on Filmapalooza 2024!

Filmapalooza is the international competition of the 48 Hour Film Project. This year’s event was held in Lisbon, Portugal, March 20-23. Official attendance for the screenings and workshops at the historic Cinema São Jorge was 439, but that number swelled to nearly 600 for the awards ceremony. To view that ceremony, go to YouTube.

In a rarity, the film from the host city was crowned grand champion, as the judging panel picked Lisbon’s On the Other Side, by 2880 Filmes. In second place was Cape Town (What Would Maggie Do? by the Good Boy Project), with Denver (The Movement by Cinema Geeks) third. The other two nominees for best film were Eindhoven (swapID by Beyond Borders) and Shanghai (Dream Butterfly Dream by WMF).

Other honors included Cape Town for direction and sound; Lyon (Valhalla by La Looma) for writing; Shanghai for cinematography; Nashville (Lords of Fruit Town by UFP) for editing; London (Death Hack by Dispel Films) for lead actor/actress; Edinburgh (Learning Magic by Average Joes Gym) for supporting actor/actress; Eindhoven for acting ensemble, score and makeup/hair; Prague (Missing Pieces by Nanosekunda) for visual effects; Chicago (Perfect by Flunky and Dangle Productions) for set design and line of dialogue; Geneva (Dusk by Slow Hyperspace) for graphic design; Nairobi (These Moments Are to Die For by Team Vortex) for song; Reunion (The Legend of Chop Swing by La Guilde) for choreography; Rennes (The Crossroads Needle by Le Pediluve) for costumes, Austin (Phrogger by Unpossible Films) for genre; and Pittsburgh (Headcase by Conrad Studios) for prop.

Thirteen films from the main 48HFP competition were picked to screen at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in May. As a consulting judge, I proudly had a hand in selecting those, as I watched all 109 movies from the main 48HFP competition and provided feedback to 48HFP staff. The films, in alphabetical order by city, are:

Cape Town, South Africa (What Would Maggie Do? by the Good Boy Project)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. (The Movement by Cinema Geeks)
Eindhoven, Netherlands (swapID by Beyond Borders)
Lisbon, Portugal (On the Other Side by 2880 Filmes)
London, England (Death Hack by Dispel Films)
Lyon, France (Valhalla by La Looma)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. (Lords of Fruit Town by UFP)
Prague, Czech Republic (Missing Pieces by Nanosekunda)
Rome, Italy (Good to Die For by Cookie Slatt) (audience winner)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. (Sheet Talk by Panscape Pictures)
Shanghai, China (Dream Butterfly Dream by WMF)
Tours, France (Quits or Double by Studio N)
Warsaw, Poland (Girl with a Suitcase by Studio Hologram)

In addition, nine films from the “Yes We Cannes” contest made the cut (including the overall winner from that contest, Beirut), along with the AI competition winners from France and San Diego, plus the Four Points Winner, from Europe. That brings the Cannes total to 25, higher than ever before.

Though my selections ended up being very close to the Cannes list, the order in which I placed the films was quite different from that of the judging panel. But that’s the nature of judging: highly subjective. I wish to congratulate the top films, but, as I’ve done in past years, I also would like to share my own rankings. Think of it as simply another reality … what could have been … just like the plot of Lyon’s Valhalla. So without further ado, I present my personal top 25 from the 2023 48HFP main competition. (An asterisk indicates the film is going to Cannes.)

  1. Eindhoven, Netherlands: swapID by Beyond Borders *
  2. Tokyo, Japan: Rain Lily by Acting Space PIW
  3. Prague, Czech Republic: Missing Pieces by Nanosekunda *
  4. Lyon, France: Valhalla by La Looma *
  5. Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.: Sheet Talk by Panscape Pictures *
  6. Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.: Lords of Fruit Town by UFP *
  7. Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.: The Movement by Cinema Geeks *
  8. Tours, France: Quits or Double by Studio N *
  9. Groningen, Netherlands: Choking in Silence by NakedHearts Film
  10. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Josephine by Smash
  11. Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.: Perfect by Flunky and Dangle Productions
  12. Utrecht, Netherlands: Parallel Promises by Wonsaponatime
  13. London, England: Death Hack by Dispel Films *
  14. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.A.: Never Fade by Intellego
  15. Arnhem, Netherlands: G4-LA-TH3A by De Onkruidzaiiers
  16. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.: Verisimilitude by Videoramascope Pictures
  17. Shanghai, China: Dream Butterfly Dream by WMF *
  18. Glasgow, Scotland: By Now by Level Five Films
  19. Warsaw, Poland: Girl with a Suitcase by Studio Hologram *
  20. Brussels, Belgium: Eat Your Dead by Holy shit, a name?!
  21. Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.: Behind the Pink Glasses by The French Family Robinson
  22. Geneva, Switzerland: Dusk by Slow Hyperspace
  23. Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Black Harvest by The Extremely Mature Adults
  24. Edinburgh, Scotland: Learning Magic by Average Joes Gym
  25. Adelaide, Australia: hush by MOSCO

On a personal note, I caught the “festival flu” on the first day of Filmapalooza, forcing me to miss not just all the screenings but also the awards ceremony and my own workshop, “How to Get Your Film into Festivals.” But my workshop partner, TL Westgate, conducted the seminar solo, so I’d like to thank him for that. I truly regret missing it and also not being able to meet most of you. So I hope you will watch the post-festival version of our workshop that TL filmed. (It will be available on the 48HFP website soon, with a link embedded on this page, so check back in a few days. In the meantime, here’s a downloadable, printable summary of the workshop.) And if you have comments of questions about either the workshop or this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me at MeierMovies@aol.com.

Thanks to Mark Ruppert, Indra van ‘t Hooft and the rest of the 48HFP staff for another successful year.

Now it’s on to Seattle for Filmapalooza 2025!

© 2024 MeierMovies, LLC

For more information on the 48HFP, go here.