“Three Days Gone by Scott McCullough is, first of all, an original crime project in which there is a place for drama, humor, gangster dialogue and police investigations. Scott put all this into a twenty-minute film, which turned out to be very intense and dynamic, despite the lack of action in its original form. If you take the project apart, then of course you can easily notice all the inherent disadvantages that exist in any independent project without proper financial support.

These are always certain technical nuances that make no sense to focus on. This is because the merits of the picture are much more convincing. I would like to note the acting tandem of Christopher Backus & Patrick J. Adams, who look very harmonious, and their story and emotional profile are well developed by the writers, which makes them living characters that you want to believe. Another advantage I would like to note is the camera work, which matches the tone of the picture; the camera is not static, it moves along with the plot, creating dynamics, which is very important for not the most assiduous viewers. Among other positive aspects of the film, I would include a very cheerful introduction and opening credits to the driving track of the artist “D Fine Us,” which immediately sets the right tone for the film.

To summarize, the Scott McCullough project probably turned out exactly as the author intended it, at least ideologically and stylistically. Yes, technically there are nuances in the film that can and should be corrected, but with proper financial support, these are easily solvable tasks, so I would love to see how Scott copes with these difficulties in the future, for example in a feature-length project!

Three Days Gone: Based on the Life of Lucas Snow
2023 Yearly Run Participant
“La tête dans les étoiles” by Timo Paris is an exceptional experimental film art piece that revolves around shapes, including human bodies, and their interaction with each other. Throughout 12 minutes audience can watch, observe and be amazed by incredible art that is created by forming unique shapes and their interaction between them.

It is inspiring how geometry was used in the film. Through such simple yet strong shapes created by specific angles teach audience to find new points of view. This is an incredibly philosophical statement created by Timo Paris: to look further in shapes, objects and life.

The film’s foundation is human’s activity, sound and camera work All three disciplines are executed incredibly well. Human’s movement is somewhat captivating as a ballet or another professionally choreographed dance: every move has a meaning behind it. It is obvious how accurate every shot is, the camerawork seems flawless. Sound design creates depth and adds color to the imagery that was already created by a director of photography. It is inspiring how each discipline work together perfectly.

Although “La tête dans les étoiles » raises more questions than answering them, it is captivating, inspiring and exciting film that can provoke a lot of ideas. It is exciting to watch such short films.

La tête dans les étoiles
2023 Yearly Run Participant
“Bunk” by Samuel Koehler is a great student short film about toxic roommates and how to work and how to interact with them. It is built around 80s sitcom aesthetic that works perfectly with the story.

All actors do a pretty good job. I bet all of them are students, and it works for their benefit. A long time ago, a great artist stated that artists should tell stories they know from personal experience in order to create honest art. Hence, Samuel and his colleagues execute such approach in “Bunk”, and it feel extremely honest.

The sitcom style is both hilarious and ideal for such story. The funky bass guitar as a soundtrack, the aspect ratio, coloring and a feeling of a VHS cassette create such vibe. However, I wish there were a little more edits between bits. Seems like it would add more to the aesthetic.

There are no major issues in the story: it has rhythm, humor, approach and depth. However, I wish there were few more scenes, to make audience dive a little deeper in atmosphere.

Besides that, it is a great short film. It feels like the director clearly had a concept in mind, and he executed it. The result is satisfying, amusing and as honest as it can get. I wish all the luck to Samuel and excited to see his future works

2023 Yearly Run Participant
“Embrace” by Axel Zeltser is full of energy horror film that tells a full story within 2 minutes, which is exciting. Through great editing, music and visual effects, “Embrace” is unique, specific and feels like an idea that could be developed into something bigger than a short film.

It is extremely pleasant to see such montage that creates a specific atmosphere to the film. Repetition can give audience different feelings, and “Embrace” does it perfectly. It is also vital to note how sound in “Embrace” fulfilling the idea the director was trying to execute. As well as editing, volume and amount of repetition work perfectly for the story.

Colors bring so much juice to work. From clothing to streetlights, everything adds depth to “Embrace”. The main character also has plenty of characteristics that are revealed in such short period of time, which is admirable.

The villain, the terror of “Embrace” is executed well: visual effects supervised can be proud of the work they achieved. It is also exciting how audience cannot really tell how the creature fully looks like; such approach brings more horror vibes.

Overall, “Embrace” is a great short film. Although every idea of the story is told in such period of time, it shows more than many full feature films. Amazing.

2023 Yearly Run Participant
“Mara: The Seal Wife” by Uisdean Murray is a profound fantasy/drama film that explores human’s approach to past, dignity and distance. With the help of great cinematography and actors, the film brings unique and distinctive emotions.

It is crucial to note the camera work. Unusual angles and long shots create a very specific atmosphere. It creates a feeling of a story happening somewhere far from audience. Such aspects as lighting, coloring and certain shots create the imagery of distance, loneliness and confusion. Seems like the director of photography is an incredibly skilled artist who reveals story’s details through such imagery.

The director also creates incredible atmosphere of a local world. Although there are not too many extraordinary locations, they are beautiful, full of character and unique. It is a great example how directors could bring life to any location, as long as it works with the story.

The plot could be confusing at times, but the ending answers most questions a viewer could have. “Mara: The Seal Wife” is an incredibly high-level film and an example of great execution by every department a film production crew has.

Mara: The Seal Wife
2023 Yearly Run Participant
“A Tale of 2 Cities” by Destinee Easley is a great short film with a straight story that can touch pretty much any human with a heart. It is full of beauty that is made from purity and simplicity of the story.

One of the most fascinating things regarding the film is how it is shot. The film is almost done with close ups only, making audience feel intimate with characters. Most stories regarding negative street influence feel distant or not authentic. Whereas with “A Tale of 2 Cities”, each character is fully revealed in such short timing, which is exceptional. I believe close up technique really helped to develop and reveal characters to the audience.

All actors did an impressive job: they feel natural and real. Dialogs are also full of juice, and it is impressive how little number of words can portray a single character. Great job.

Honestly, there is nothing negative I can say regarding “A Tale of 2 Cities”: it is simple yet profound touching story that is told the way it should be told. I wish nothing but the best to Destinee Easley, she has awesome ideas and ways to execute them. Great job, once again!

A Tale of 2 Cities
2023 Yearly Run Participant
“Sweetest Vacation” by Ryan Stevens Harris is a trippy comedic short film that contains a single scene with a person having a bad trip. Or is it a good one?

To be honest, I was confused. I feel like the director was trying to achieve that goal, and it worked. Confusion goes throughout the entire film, and the idea of a person having a bad trip comes right around the end. Hopefully, this short film could be a scene from a bigger project, which would provide more answers.

Camerawork indeed works with the story: certain shots felt confusing because there were out of focus. This concept flows incredibly with the concept. The same way locations work for the story’s benefit: there are either grimy or extremely saturated, just like any trip would be.

However, the humor is subtle and slips pretty much under the radar. I am a big fun of smooth unnoticed humor, but it was extremely hard to find such irony or satire in it. Although, this is my personal opinion, and comedy is super subjective.

Overall, Sweetest Vacation shows great skills Ryan has he can tell a story, create visual approach to it and fulfill his idea. I wish nothing but the best to him in his future projects.

Sweetest Vacation
2023 Yearly Run Participant
“So What Did We Learn Today, Georgina?” by Franco Volpi is an amazing, humorous and thought-provoking short film that shows depth this director can achieve within 5 minutes. It is a relatable, hilarious and realistic story that brings joy to almost anyone who watched it.

The story by itself is incredibly simple, which inspires me greatly: a child comes from school and asks mother a question that cannot be answered to a little girl. I believe only masters can tell such simple stories with such irony and depth, and Franco achieves it like no other. There is a plethora of close-up shots that bring more details of characters, there are both are fully revealed in such short time. Outstanding.

There was one shot that confused me, which was a close-up to a calendar that showed the time the story set (1990s). I was not sure how it is relevant to the story, but I am sure there is something to it. Seems like the director would not do it without a cause.

The film flows like butter, and there is nothing to critique about it. Actresses, their movements, the set, music, and many other aspects of this film work together like wonder. Franco Volpi is an exceptional director, and he should be writing and directing big budget films. He deserves it like nobody else.

So What Did We Learn Today, Georgina?
2023 Yearly Run Participant
“Findings” by Kristina Schippling is a very unorthodox interdisciplinary film that touches on a plethora of emotions throughout a dialog-less short film. It is a coherent story that captures audience through minimalistic approach.

There is always a certain beauty in silent films. Telling a story though motion picture is a fine craft that not every film director is capable of doing. Kristina does it well, even in the moments when the story becomes harder for viewers understanding. Although they are probably open for interpretations, and such detail makes the plot stronger.

The imagery is also there: with such minimalistic approach, “Findings” proves that plain imagination can provoke thoughts. The «house» presented in the film, which is obviously handcrafted, creates a palette of ideas and dramaturgy, especially being such small art piece. Furthermore, there are more ideas behind the house being so small.

Overall, this a great short film that can open some discussions between viewers, and such achievement is pursued by many directors. It is exciting to see new ideas from Kristina in the future.

2023 Yearly Run Participant
"Tap" by Vanessa M.H. Powers is a short suspense film that revolves around a family of a father and a son who recently lost mother. Although there are a lot of notable details of the film, some bits were a bit confusing.

Actors did an amazing job, both of them were well-written and their interaction felt natural. It creates a small yet noticeable confusion within the family, and how father is trying to be a part of a son’s life. It also crucial to point out camera work: there were interesting angles, and it is pleasant to see few-shots scene without a lot of montage.

Nevertheless, the story needs a little bit of work, in my opinion. It felt like some parts of the story were not revealed hence the feeling of missing key points in the story. Also, the escalation was extremely rapid: I am not sure if that was the concept, but it gave me an abrupt feeling. Even though the ending makes sense and finishes the story, I wish there were more chapters of the story in order for it to be way more cohesive.

Overall, this is a good example of great independent film that just needs little tweaks in order to be marvelous. The motivation, actors’ interaction, shot and style of filmmaking is mature and professional.

2023 Yearly Run Participant
“Organic” by Egor Subbotin is a full of nature and pure beauty short film telling about results and complications humans bring to the nature. Through beautiful frames, audience witness an obsolete beauty of natural creation and how human life affect it.

Unlike humans, nature is very cinematic and organic (no pun intended) to the camera. It only requires filmmakers to capture it. “Organic” does it exceptionally: each shot is full of color, depth and story. “Organic” also brings crucial art of storytelling through subtitles: just like in silent films, by adding little sentences to motion picture it reveals the full story, adding to the visual part of it. Outstanding.

Another admirable aspect of the film is soundtrack. Unlike many other documentaries, original soundtrack of “Organic” flows with the story and imagery of the film, adding more depth and context to it. It is extremely important regarding films with no voiceovers. “Organic” does it incredibly. Cooper Myers, the composer of the film, did an exceptional job.

“Organic” is a beautiful film from inside out. The story, imagery, soundtrack, each component of it creates a perfect symphony conducted by a skilled conductor. I wish Egor more ideas to come, and excited to see his future projects.

Award Winner  Winter 2023 Program
Agrinoui” by Alexis Chaviaras is a perfect example of how animation film can be mature, enlightening, inspiring and full of subtle and smooth humor for both children and adults.

A great way of approaching 3D animation in this short animation film is creating familiar yet refreshing look of creature interactions. There is something in each character that captivates, inspires and make audience member smile and feel positive energy. Humor in “Agrinoui” is universal: it is smooth yet playful, and sometimes there is a tiny bit of irony even in certain phrases. Amazing!

Also, not forget to mention, is the dramaturgy. Despite few flaws, it flows easily, and it shows main character’s growth in a short amount of time, which is an exceptional skill for a director. Furthermore, there is something moving in the story itself: it shows how to overcome failure, how to succeed and be happy about achieving success. Many people should watch it in order to breakthrough their emotional problems.

“Agrinoui” is a perfect example of a truly family friendly film. Both children and adults can find something for them there, and watching it is a lot of fun. Easy, refreshing and enlightening film that anyone could enjoy.

Honorable Mention Winter 2023 Program
“S. S. Robin” by. Camille Debiase is a deep drama script that focuses on a number of sociological issues humans deal every day. Despite the story being set in yearly 70s, the story is extremely easy to relate for any audience member.

The story revolving around adoption of a kid, and how interracial neighborhoods deal with racism, chauvinism and prejudice in general. This story could be told in almost any era of the 20th century, and it would still be something touching and enlightening. However, there are reasons why this story is based in the 70s and why it matters.

The 70s would bring enormous amount of cultural and historical juice to the story, which would make audience appreciate the story more. It is known that people do not reflect on modern times as the cultural phenomenon, and it takes time for people to see it that way. Hence, placing the story in the 70s creates unique imagery with cultural, historical and sociological references that would make audience dig deeper in the actual story.

It also creates enormous possibilities for many departments of film production to create unique atmosphere. Historical films challenge their creators to bring unique atmosphere in order to fascinate a viewer. Such era was colorful, innovative yet retrospective, with it’s own unique vibe a lot of people are trying to recreate today. Hence, it can become a reference to a lot of artists.

This story is full of potential, from dramaturgy to humor. It will indeed inspire a lot of people and raise important question modern society has to discuss.

The S.S. Robin
Official Selection Autumn 2023 Program
“Bars, Beer & Booze with Roberto Serrini” is a great documentary show pilot that talks about alcohol from social, historical and cultural point of view. Within 8 minutes, audience learns a great deal of information on the subject in a fun and easy-going way.

First of all, it is important for such documentary to have a charming host. Roberto Serrini is fun, easy going and fascinating alcohol expert, who is excited about the knowledge he is willing to share. It is as important as to be excited the subject in general. Also, he takes risk to find something new, something nobody has ever seen or experienced before, and it excites audience rapidly.

Second of all, animation adds another layer of depth to the show. It creates a somewhat timeless atmosphere, making viewers participate in historical moments that are being told in the series. Amazing.

Although there are few flaws in terms of sound quality, which can be fix easily, it is a great pilot for an exciting series that can be entertaining, educational and humorous at the same time. I am very excited about this project and can’t wait to see the actual series. Roberto Serrini absolutely has stories to tell, which means audience will get excited to hear them.

Bars Beer & Booze with Roberto Serrini
Honorable Mention Autumn 2023 Program
“Zu den Sternen” (To the Stars) by Nikolai Tegeler is an outstanding film that studies dignity, guilt and desperation. Having simple yet coherent and intricate plot, it shows many aspects of people’s past and how they deal with it.

One of the most important about the film is actor’s performance. Almost the entire film is shot in one room, which make audience focus on characters more than usual. These two fine actors, Günter Barton, and Florian Martens, show exceptional work with the script and their characters. Throughout the film audience can witness the progression within each other, along with interaction between them. This is outstanding and breathtaking, and because of such performances the film never gets dull.

The story is also written exceptionally. Every detail has a reason behind it, all twists are sharp and happen and at the right moment. The dramaturgy is also there, making the story progress in the specific and unique way. Outstanding.

Another positive aspect of “To the Stars” is number of props and how they are integrated to the story. These are not just objects for the sake of it, they help move the story forward, give clues about character’s background and their feelings.

Overall, this is a big, important, and inspiring piece of art. An amazing example of modern day independent film, where the story and the production is not huge, yet the director is able to tell a distinctive story with gratitude, grace and taste. I am fascinated by Nikolai Tegeler’s work.

Zu den Sternen
Award Winner Autumn 2023 Program
“For I Am Dead” by Patricia Delso Lucas is a unique short film that tells a story of boredom, fate, self-acceptance and death. Within 18 minutes, all these important issues are revealed through traditional film timing, editing and such unique scale.

This piece of art can be easily called timeless since people of all generations can relate to it. The main character is presented in a unique way, being petty, dreadful, devastating and disgusting at the same time. Only mature directors can pull off such complicated characters.

In terms of the production, it is incredibly pleasant film to watch. Locations, costume design, light work, and camera angles — all of these key points prove how sophisticated and professional this film is. Besides telling a complicated and thought-provoking story, audience can feel a very specific atmosphere, which is layered up with so many professional aspects.

It is important for the plot to give viewers the idea of what characters are the moment they appear on the screen. For I Am Dead is a perfect example of it: the exposition is set so perfectly, you understand and feel characters the moment they appear.

Overall, this is great, tasteful and inspiring piece of art. Patricia is a fabulous director and I am hoping we will see a full feature film from her soon. She deserves it like nobody else.

For I Am Dead
Official Selection Winter 2023 Program
“The Last Earth” Station by Kathryn Radmall is an exquisite, futuristic, and cosmic script that shows unique world of Space and human interaction with it. Nonetheless, this story can be more relatable than any World stories since it touches on people and other creature communication, desires and wishes.

It is crucial for such cosmic stories to have its own world. “The Last Earth Station” deals with it like no other: the number of details elaborated in the script is outstanding. Although there could be references to other Space-themed films, the world the script provides to the reader is unique and unlike any other. It takes enormous amount of hard work and talent to place stories in such unconventional locations.

Another major part is how, despite being cosmic and all-around futuristic concepts, it is as human and touching as possible. It has all aspects of traditional film stories’ approach, including drama, humor and experiencing existence.

I believe Kathryn Radmall creates a unique script that will interest not only geeks, but broader audience, since there are so many layers to the story. I believe in “The Last Earth Station”.

The Last Earth Station
Official Selection Winter 2023 Program
“Ferocious by Dimitri Devyatkin” is a very unique script telling a story about John Paul Jones and his adventures. Comparing to many other historical and adventures stories, “Ferocious” differs by many reasons.

One of the reasons it is unlike other stories audience seen before, characters are full of layers. There are no simple one-sided characters like a straight up villain or a regular hero, there is way more to it. Some of them lack dignity, whereas some of them are lousy, or funny, etc. This is a great example of people’s behavior in terms of history, since most stories about past eras show everyone with enormous amount of dignity or force. ‘Ferocious” is about people, with their desires and fears, passions and wishes; it is about them being human, just like everyone else.

Another important reason why “Ferocious” differ is how ambitious in terms of the scale it is. Indeed, it is an adventurous story, full of exciting locations, battles, and costumes. It sparked my imagination multiple times while I was reading it. If the number of details and imagery written in the script would be observed in the film itself, it can achieve a massive visual result as well.

Overall, this is exciting yet mature adventure script. Full of energetic and enlightening scenes, it can be a successful hit, since there are so many layers in such story.

Official Selection Autumn 2022 Program
“Being A Dog” by Felix Swahn is an animated short film that tells a story of a person/dog named Tim and how he is trying to mature and become a better person. This short, animated film is one of the best things I have seen in such a long time. Despite one major flaw, it is unique, dark, and full of juice. It is a clear example of how dramatic animation can be.

First of all, the style of animation is incredible. It catches an easy instantly, being retrospective and futuristic at the same time. Besides it, such style adds layers to the story: it adds additional emotions to it, making it dark, dirty and very human. The style also combined with little nuances made in comic-style, and such combination is rare to observe. Animation is an ability to create imagery of the story from moving frames and Being A Dog does it miraculously.

The story is also captivating Tim deals with thoughts and emotions everyone can relate to, and it is crucial. Although, I believe one major flaw is the ending: if the entire film can be described as a build up to a certain catharsis, the ending failed to execute it. I wish there was a more open and thought-provoking ending, which could add more mystery to the story.

Besides that, it is an amazing work. Sophisticated but very natural, full of authenticity and drama, this short, animated film told more about characters than most films. It creates unique atmosphere; it is something I desire to watch again and again. Felix Swahn is a diamond in the rough, and I am sure his future projects will be as exciting as this one.

Being A Dog
Official Selection Autumn 2022 Program
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