Monday, October 5, 2009

Notes From Our October 3rd Screening

Thank you to those of you who made it out last Saturday to our October Short Comedy Film Screening Event Extravaganza. For those unable to make the show, here's how it all went down:

After introductions were made, hosts Jay Stern and Victor Varnado told us a little bit about their journey last year to Estonia, where the Iron Mule Festival was invited to do a show in an industrial warehouse. Since words could not describe the splendor, Victor thankfully cut together a two-part series culled from their video diaries of the experience. Although Jay and Victor seemed unimpressed (and at times, downright baffled) by Estonia's post-Soviet squalor, inexpressive audiences and gun-toting waitresses, we got a good chuckle out of it. And after the screen faded to a "To be continued..." we headed into our first block of films for the night.

"Every Seven Minutes" by Josh Bass started us off on the right foot as we began a program of horror comedies, just in time (well, a litttle early) for Halloween. The audience laughed and nodded in familiarity with one of the most terrifying sounds in the modern world: the alarm clock. Next up was Michael Goldberg's "Boo," his NYU thesis film about a babysitter's run-in with a persistant, oversized and possibly spectral trick-or-treater. Michael was in the audience and came forward to take questions about the film, his curious method of auditioning only one person (and then asking for a callback!) and his animation work for Sesame Street. Shouting corrective commentary from the audience was previous Iron Mule contributor and star of the film, Eliza Skinner.

Our Guest Judge for the evening was James Urbaniak, star of such films as Henry Fool, American Splendor and the animated series The Venture Bros. Jay asked if he had any thoughts so far, and boy did he! Flipping through his notebook, Mr, Urbaniak shared a few brief and pithy remarks he'd jotted down about the films. Despite having mentioned, when he was introduced to the audience, that he'd been to a few shorts programs before and "they can be spotty affairs" (it's true, they can be), he seemed to be enjoying himself.

And on to the next block of films which began with more footage from Estonia, this time featuring a dance party with wall-projected "art films," strangely-colored drinks and white face paint. By the end of it, the experience seems to have left our host-heroes exhausted, disoriented and ready to go home, but at least the audience was having a good time. Then came "My Apartment," by dpShorts, a collaboration between dp and Kasey Williamson, who were in the audience as well. The jaunty rap song that narrates the main character's tour of his tiny Manhattan bachelor pad got at least one request for a soundtrack copy, and possibly a sing-along. Though that didn't happen, Kasey and dp were on hand to answer questions about the source of the project (a friend complaining that he hadn't seen dp's new apartment yet), and also their other collaborations which will be featured at the next three Iron Mule screenings. Afterward, Guest Judge Urbaniak offered high praise for "breathing fresh life into the tired rapping-white-guy genre."

The final block of films began with Iron Mule's first featured short from France! It also happens to be our first submission from France, but any accusations of francophile favoritism are beside the point because the film is funny. "An Angel Stops By..." is a story about a porn director struggling with temperamental talent, a tyrannical producer, and an eager priest who must help him clean up his act before the angel of death takes his life. Continuing in a more morbid vein, "Gazoontite," by Jack Ferry, follows a young man who learns that tuning out the world can have its advantages, even if its achieved by rather gruesome means. The first film in the block piqued Mr. Urbaniak's interest in the possibilty of French porn, and the latter film he called "mythic."

Our Wanna Be A Star film for October (for more information, see our website) was entitled "There's Never Enough Cabbage," featuring audience winner Floria Chi and directed by Dan Simon. A disturbing tale of childhood trauma and vegetable imprinting, it was also a fitting end to our program of the hilarious and the horrifying. Star Flora Chi was on hand to draw the name of next month's winner: Jami Simon. Jami will be familiar to that night's audience as the cabbage-eating mother, and we look forward to seeing her again next month in "Aluminum Siding," which will be directed by Michael Goldburg ("Happy Trails," IM 7/09).

Once all the ballots had been counted, James Urbaniak announced the night's big winners. The Audience Favorite award went to "My Apartment," and the Judge's Award went to "Boo." Congratulations and beers were passed around as filmmakers, audience members and judges mingled in the 92YTribeca cafe before heading out into the warm October night. Thanks to everyone in attendance, and we hope to see you November 7th for our next round of the finest comedy shorts, featuring more from dpShorts, Jack Ferry ("Gazoontite") and others.

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