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Although the curtain just fell on Pensacon’s second outing – this was the first year that the event included a film festival. It was a treat to see a range of shorts compete and three winners took home bragging rights.
Chondriac took home the audience award, E.M.M.A best in show from the celeb judges, and “Defense Mechanism” from the Pensacon staff panel.
Whether it was a super short or a concept that could bloom into a full-fledged movie – there wasn’t a dud in the field. Each one had artistic merits, was well executed, and showed how a short can be a great avenue to showcase someone’s abilities.
“STAREMASTER: Prelude to The Rematch of the Decade” directed by Sean Linezo
The festival kicked off with a screening of the Staremaster short. A full length documentary (with Kevin Smith as executive producer) was being filmed in Pensacola over the course of Pensacon. Staremaster is about staring contests – which are surprisingly a very real and very intensely serious competitive events. The short doesn’t really let the audience fully know if all the bravado is for show, or if these two guys really take staring at each other THAT seriously.
Regardless, it does make for an intriguing and memorable watch that was a bonus to the film festival roster. Here is a rundown of the shorts actually in the competition – listed in no order:
“Lick” written and directed by Dylan Thompson
A straightforward horror short that is an interesting take on an urban legend. They did a nice job capturing the cool color tones of an unlit bedroom and had a complicated prop that the story hinged on – that looked really strong on the big projection screen.
“Chondriac” directed by Austin Hermann, written and produced by Austin Hermann and Matthew Wilkins
This one took home the audience award – which wasn’t much of a surprise because it got the most intense reaction from the crowd. Maybe not the best thing to watch if you have a weak stomach, ‘Chondraic’ could easily be blown into a full-length movie. Whether you think it is a different take on zombies, viral contagions, or just someone going a little crazy – this film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to. It is gross, gory, and a touch ambiguous as to what is really going on.
“Defense Mechanism” directed by Sebastian Munoz, written by Matt Denoto, produced by Richard D. Cortez and Sebastian Munoz
Zombies are everywhere. Yet, this movie deals with them a little differently. It is a character piece about a husband and wife facing the ultimate moment of crisis. She has been bitten and will turn. As someone with a tendency to use too much sarcasm – the dialogue in this short was captivating. It is two jaded people who rely on dark humor to stay sane in a soul crushing situation.
“The Box” written, directed, and produced by Steve Baker
Combine claustrophobia, a stunt for a radio show, and a very angry guy and that’s the concept behind ‘The Box’. Its a dark comedy with a heartless protagonist and foul-mouthed victim. There are several fun twists in the script that keep the viewer unsure how it will turn out – and trust me, it’s worth a watch.
“Cache” directed by Kevin Almodovar, written by Brandon Pence, Produced by Emily Klamerus
What if, on a scavenger hunt you found something sinister? Would you follow the clues yourself or turn it over to authorities – especially when you are unsure what you even have? ‘Cache’ is a thriller short, and it is hard to say much about it without spoiling the whole concept. It’s a fun ride that might make you think twice about who you trust.
“E.M.M.A.” written and directed by Stephen Herman
One of the two true science fiction shorts in the competition – it was mentioned during the Q&A that the short was styled after Twilight Zone episodes, and that influence is easy to see. Robots are at the center of the tale – and it deals with some heavy concepts of personal identity and the origin of emotions. The story bones shine brightly and I’d love to see this become an indie feature.
“M-Theory” written, directed, and produced by T.L. Westgate
The second sci-fi short deals with the fate of the future, time travel, and quantum physics. What would you do if your creation – the thing that you spent countless hours slaving over is the very thing that dooms the world? How much would you be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of mankind? With some fun visual effects and a very in the not-too-distance future vibe – ‘M-Theory’ put some big moral dilemmas in the spotlight.
“Starcraft: A Blank Canvas” directed by Stephen Pell, produced by Virginia Anzengruber
I’m a not quite the target audience for this one – so it was a touch like walking into a un-subtitled movie where the actor speaks in an obscure language. I can appreciate how well-executed it is – it looks incredibly beautiful – but the short draws a parallel between a top player of the ‘Starcraft’ video game to that of an artist. The voice over does a good job driving the point home, even to a newb like myself.
In the end – the film festival was a great addition to Pensacon and I can’t wait to see what happens as word spreads about the event. Thanks to Steve Wise and all the Pensacon crew for taking the time to cull through countless submissions and present a fantastic group of shorts for our viewing pleasure.
In other Pensacon news: Did you catch the announcement for 2016’s event? Learn more at: http://pensacon.com/
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