Monday, November 9, 2009

Notes From Our November 7th Screening

Hello and welcome to our November Screening Recap! An unseasonably warm day lead to another bang-up Iron Mule show, with short films from as far away as Dublin, Ireland and Portland, Oregon. Only years of extensive Programming Yoga could allow for this much stretching.

The show got off to a rousing start with the introduction of Special Guest Judge Michael Kupperman, cartoonist, writer and illustrator extraordinaire, whose work has been seen in The New Yorker, Fortune, and The New York Times, and on Comedy Central, Saturday Night Live and BBC2. Mr. Kupperman led us through a dramatic reading of several of his comic panels, illustrations and satiric advertisements. It was like cartoons with the closed captioning on, and it was fun.

Once Mr. Kupperman was briefed on the task ahead of him, we moved on to the first two films of the evening, also satires of ads. Not usually a fixture of Iron Mule screenings, the two "mockvertisements" nonetheless overcame the shortcomings of the format by being spot-on parodies, funny and short. "Debt Consolidated," by Josh Bass, focuses on a company offering to clear your debt by first explaining how money works (hint: it doesn't come from God), and "Expedulate," by dpShorts promotes a pill guaranteed to speed up the duration of intercourse for men so that their wives can get some work done. Josh Bass will be back next month with "Joey & Jerome's Artistic Meaningful Independent Film," a satire of epic proportions. And we're halfway through a series of four films by dpShorts; next up is "Balls," just in time for Christmas.

The next block of films introduced by hosts Jay Stern & Victor Varnado was composed of Foreign English films, or as Jay described them, "Films in English from countries other than America." After Victor & Jay debated which English-speaking country was more "foreign" (I think it was a draw), the set began with "Something for the Wickend," a British "Office"-type story set in a sexually-promiscuous candle distributor. Next up was "The One About the Sheep," a 2-minute short short from London by Iron Mule alum Toby Roberts about Australians, their wives and their livestock. And closing out the set, from Dublin, was "Bleeding Love," a shaggy-dog story of love won and blood lost. As Guest Judge Kupperman pointed out afterward, "Love transcends language." Or, in these cases, heavy accents.

Our penultimate pair of films started with "Who's Good Looking," an unusual short comprised of a single uninterrupted shot, from far-flung Portland, Oregon. And returning to Iron Mule after last month's successful screening of "Gazoontite," Jack Ferry brings us "Breaking News," a film he put together in a week about a live news broadcast gone awry. Two great examples of the digital revolution at work. And Jack was on hand to tell us about the parameters of his project, which was a Round 2 submission for the FOX reality show, On The Lot. He didn't get in, but we still love him.

Rounding out the evening's program was an experimental student film by Caleb Foss, "An Introduction to Physics." Caleb came down from Purchase, NY to tell us about the challenges of working on the film, which included developing errors made by the lab (fortunately adding to the "experimental" look) and special effects enhanced by the heavy inhalation of bleach. Kids today... The mockumentary, modeled after black-and-white educational films, wreaks playful havoc with it's self-serious, sternly-narrated source material.

While the ballots were being counted, audience members were treated to this month's Wanna Be A Star? film, "Aluminum Siding," a collaboration between dp (of dpShorts) and Iron Mule alum Michael Goldburg ("Happy Trails"). Previous WBAS? actress Jami Simon was more than game as a foul-mouthed, rapping door-to-door saleswoman targeting brownstones, the Met, and other unlikely prospects. For more details regarding this monthly competition, please visit our website:

With all the counting said and done, Guest Judge Kupperman announced the evening's winners. The Audience Award went to "An Introduction to Physics," and the Judges' Award went to "Bleeding Love." Congratulations to our winners, and hey, don't let it go to your heads.

Filmmakers and audience members alike gathered out in the 92YTribeca cafe to debrief and decompress. Meanwhile, Congress debated a budget-neutral, 3,000 page proposal to allow Iron Mule to continue bringing great short comedy from around the world to Tribeca. Tune in before December 5th to see if it passed!

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