While nothing can quite replace Timecode: NOLA, The GNO Film Fete (classic French for "festival") looks to fill the void by showcasing a diverse selection of locally conceived and produced short films. This year, the fete will take place at Chalmette Movies on Sunday, April 15th, and will run about 90 or so minutes of pure cinema.
Director of the fete Carl Johnson gave me a preview of the programming, allowing me to compile a trio of flicks you should look out for:
Black and Blue
John Swider directs this gem of generational/familial maturity and responsibility with swiftness and looseness. Starring the great Lance Nichols, Black and Blue is the telling of a young man and his grandfather, dealing with a very recent and tragic death. It's not often we see a wonderfully sentimental, progressive and non-schmaltzy depiction of men comforting one another over grief, so this was a welcome surprise. Lance Nichols delivers the single best point - a monologue about memory and overcoming adversity - at the base of an empty baseball field. I swear, this man can work with just about any character and dialogue (remember Left Behind?). Heartfelt, absolutely.
How to Sell a Broken Heart
Jonathan Jackson is a local "rebel without a crew", so to speak. His Dvrker: Infinity Room is a stark and clever thriller of aggressive politics and wish-fulfilling fantasy. So, when I heard he was making a short featuring Satan ... Shot and cut (those words were chosen specifically to evoke a violent feeling) with visceral visual purpose, How to Sell a Broken Heart is an imaginative and thematic exercise in playing with "what if?" and setting. New Orleans is home to a bohemian Devil, oozing with sexuality and sneaky wisdom - a combination too dangerous for any one being. It's fun, though I can only dream of what a longer feature would conjure up.
Maybe the best short of the bunch (and the only one without a video available online), Artemis Preeshl directs a provocative, engaging and splendid movie where every frame may just be like a painting. Ripe Figs is set in the classically humid plantation era of the deep south, where a Motherly figure is looking after a quiet young woman, who yearns to explore the world and be romanced. Fruits - specifically the age appropriation of them - are used as both an expression of time and of a child coming into womanhood. With a rich color palette and expert timing/pacing, Ripe Figs is heavy with longing and implication, a wealth of content that doesn't come along as often. Thankfully, it has landed in our delighted laps, as if sent from above.