A preview of the 2011 Yellow Springs Short Film Festival
By Lara Donnelly
The snow is lying thick and frozen on the streets of downtown Yellow Springs and while hiking in Glen Helen is still an option for the brave among us, most people are looking for indoor entertainment this time of year. Luckily, the Little Art Theatre is getting ready for its second annual Yellow Springs Short Film Festival. With a concession table fully stocked with fresh hot popcorn, decadent baked goods and candies such as raspberry malt balls, the local one-screen movie theater invites guests to escape the cruel winter winds and lose themselves to projected entertainment.
The festival, which will premier on February 5 at 1:00 p.m. and be repeated on February 6 at the same time, will feature short films that showcase the best of local filmmaking talent, including students, professionals and anyone else who has made a film and submitted it. Audience choice awards will be given to the most popular films.
Vanessa Query, the festival director and the originator of the idea, says she hopes that the festival will give local filmmakers a place to network and gain exposure for their art. “They’ll come and they’ll have little lanyards that tell who they are and what film they made,” she said. “They’ll be able to network with people who have come to the festival, or meet potential collaborators.”
The film festival began as a one-time event in winter 2010. The Little Art Theatre is a non-profit entity and always eager to bring in moviegoers. When the 2010 festival drew a full house on opening night and half that on the second day, its fate as an annual event was fairly well sealed. “We didn’t think it would be annual,” says Query. “But it did do very well.” And with that, the Yellow Springs Short Film Festival was born.
For entry into the festival, the majority of a film must be shot in Greene, Montgomery, Clark, Madison, Fayette, Clinton or Warren counties. If the filmmakers are residents of any of these counties, they can also submit a film shot elsewhere.
“There’s an increasing interest and awareness of local, community-based things, whether it’s food, economy, art, etc.,” said Query, explaining the festival’s geographic guidelines. “Our region is full of locally-based artists who are proud of where they come from and where they live.”
Most local artists have places to display their work, says Query, such as galleries, community theatres and music venues. But local filmmakers – particularly amateurs, Query emphasizes – rarely get the chance to bring their work to the screen. She says that when she first had the idea for the film festival, she wanted to give those filmmakers a chance.
“The goal for this festival is to provide such a venue for short films – the least-shown films – from filmmakers who are not just professionals, not just students, but everyone, with any level of experience and budget,” said Query.
Last year, 17 such filmmakers, including Query, got to see their short films projected onto the screen at the Little Art Theatre.
This year, even more artists have submitted their work. Query says that the festival now consists of more than 20 short films. She says the films range from narrative to experimental, suspense to comedy, and drama to sci-fi, zombie films and horror. Last year, the winners of the audience choice awards were representative of that diversity: a documentary, a drama and a thriller. They were Adam Brixey’s “Voltzy’s,” John Woodruff’s “Reflections,” and Michael King’s “Clowns For Hire,” respectively.
“One of the things about short films is that there’s also more flexibility to play around,” said Query.
Playing around or not, these local filmmakers are no doubt glad for their chance to shine on the silver screen and at a good price too. The entry fee for the film festival was a wallet-friendly $10 ($5 if entrants met the early deadline for submission). It’s certain that that small figure is a relief to film students working their way through school and directors paying out of their own pocket to finance their dream film.
So if supporting local artists gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that most of us lose sometimes in the bitter temperatures and the cheerless, holiday-barren time between New Years and St. Patrick’s Day (Valentine’s day excepted, of course), perhaps the Yellow Springs Short Film Festival will kindle brighter spirits in you.
Besides, who doesn’t like a good dose of killer zombie cinema? Or horror, romance, drama or comedy? The Yellow Springs Short Film Festival is bringing it all to the Little Art Theatre, in 15-minute segments of local talent that you won’t find anywhere else.
Reach DCP freelance writer Lara Donnelly at email@example.com.