Bronx Stage and Film Company

“The idea for the festival started about 8 years ago when we [Dante Albertie, Hector Olivieri and Maggie Krupka] decided that the Bronx needed a real film festival that featured films that were on the same level as every other film festival, to fight the notion that the Bronx has no culture, to show films that are on the same level as the Tribcca Film Festival or Sundance.”

Krupka, the director of the festival, went on to write “The mission of The Bronx International Film Festival is to celebrate the history of film in The Bronx by showcasing promising filmmakers while promoting The Bronx as a cultural destination and Bronx venues, like Lehman Stages, as prominent New York performance spaces.”

Albertie, Director of Lehman Stages, had the same feeling saying that the group “felt the Bronx didn’t have anything like it at the time so we wanted to provide it.”

According to the website “The Bronx Stage & Film Company, Inc., is a professional non-profit arts organization dedicated to the discipline of theater and film” and goes on to say, “Our goal is to be a touchstone for emerging artists and to promote art particularly from The Bronx and the outer boroughs.

This year’s Bronx International Bronx Film Festival will run from June 16th through the 19th at the Lovinger Theatre. There is no limit on how many films can be submitted, but there is a limit for what programming what will screen at the festival. Krupka wrote “we fit as many films as possible into this time frame.” What is their average attendance at the festival? Well, it is difficult to say. They do have followers on Facebook (2,189) and Twitter (560).

When it comes to choosing the films that will be showcased at the festival each film is prescreened and then it goes to a panel for judging. Ms. Krupka would not specify the people that would be on the panel. At the end of the festival the panel gives out two main monetary prizes: “Best of Festival”, which is a prize of $1,000, and the recently added “Best Documentary”, which is also $1,000.

Asked about past winners she mentioned first year winner Cary Fukunaga and second year winner Alrick Brown. Both worked on the film “The Adventures of Supernigger: Episode I – The Final Chapter”; Brown was the director and Fukunaga was cinematographer. One of Fukunaga’s recent films was “Sin Nombre” in 2009, where he was both writer and director. For that film he won the Cinematography Award and U.S. Dramatic Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival The Trailer to \”Sin Nombre\” (2009).

Brown and his co-producer received the “HBO Life Through Your Lens Emerging Filmmaker Award” to produce the documentary “Death of Two Sons.” In 2007 he addressed the Motion Picture Association of America on C-SPAN. His most recent film is “Kinyarwanda” for which he won the 2011 World Cinema Audience Award for Dramatic Film at Sundance.

Putting the festival together takes six months from when they make the announcements for submissions until the final programming. However, to Ms. Krupka “the festival is always in process because we are always doing something connected the festival during the course of the year from brainstorming ideas to planning events.”

When asked about future events for The Bronx Stage and Film Company there are not any at the moment that they’re willing to announce.  Right now the company is focused on the festival.

Funds, according to Krupka, go into marketing, prizes, and supplies for the festival.

When asked about her thoughts on the Bronx International Film Festival she said “we see endless possibilities for the festival anything that that will help build the festival. We are always coming up with new ideas to expand and grow.”

Albertie said “I want it to be a festival the Bronx can be proud of. I want it to be a festival that shows the early works of the future greats.”

If You Have Nothing to Confess Then Learn From Sam and Stay That Way

How much do people truly confess when they go to confession and how much of it is true? That is the theme surrounding the short film The Confession. The film was directed by Tanel Toom. Sam and Jacob, who are both nine years old, are best friends. Both children are each other’s foil. Sam is often quite and loves to follow the rules; Jacob on the other hand is one who likes to get into mischief. Set in Britain the story takes a dramatic turn when the young boys, who attend catholic school, are getting ready, in a couple of days, to make their first confession During a conversation with Jacob, Sam reveals that he has never done anything bad and therefore has nothing worth confessing. For Jacob this is a huge problem as so makes it his mission to change that.

As a person who is somewhat a skeptic when it comes to religion Confession was right up my alley. When it comes to confessing one’s sins how much can you truly trust a priest? What if someone came in there and said that they were molesting children, raping women or men, or planned to the night that they went to confession? As a priest would they keep it to themselves or would they tell someone? If they have to keep it to themselves how do they cope with it? I am in the mist of trying to find out these answers and if anyone could help me it would be greatly appreciated.

Jacob’s plan for Sam is that they go into a cornfield and steal the scarecrow. Of course Sam, being the good boy that he is, is a first very reluctant; but feeling peer-pressure from Jacob he finally relents. The problem occurs while both boys are removing the scarecrow and dragging it across the desolate road. As they are dragging it along they hear a sound of a car approaching. Not wanting to get caught, and fearing that they will, they leave the scarecrow in the street and run into the grass to hide.

A young woman driving the car, believing the object is a human being, quickly swerves to get out of the way; and in the process hits a tree. At that point I was screaming inside my head “do something Sam!” The driver even opens her eyes and look at the young, boys but to no avail. Sam once again relents to his friend and leaves the woman there, with a child in the backseat, to die as the car goes up in flames.

This film reminds me of Doubt; the film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Huffman. Streep as Sister Aloysius, the principal of St. Nicholas a Catholic School in the Bronx, begins to suspect that Father Flynn, played by Huffman, is abusing children. She suspects this because Father Flynn is always having young boys in his office and never gives reasons of why, at least to her liking. This film does exactly as the film title states: It fills you with doubt and it leaves you with it.

The similarity between the two films is that they raise questions about religion and specifically the Catholic religion. With religion you hardly ever get an answer and if by chance you do is it the right one? Is it true?

Later on in the film after Sam says that he will confess to what they have done regardless of the consequences Jacob and he get into an argument. It the mist of that argument Sam pushes Jacob. This leads Jacob to fall in a hole and die instantly.

At the end, however, Jacob did get his wish because Sam did not confess to any of the two events.

This is not Toom’s only short film dealing with a confession. In 1999 in his short film Desert Moon a Surgeon named Jonathan Kaufman confesses a secret to his priest on his death bed.

Nothing Like a WASP to Make You Come Running

What is WASP? A film revolving around a young single mother dealing with four kids. Set in the UK from the outset it is obvious that she is struggling with the job of being a mother. Having already seen the film I watched it not from a perspective of digesting new information, but trying to understand what I had already consumed. Even though in a short film sense the mom was the main character of the film for me the eldest daughter was the star. The little girl took on the role of the mother while the mother behaved more like a repressed teenager. I understand that she is a single mom and being a single mom is a tough job; it is like having two full time jobs and never receiving a paycheck. However she was the one who decided to have four kids. The children had no choice of what kind of mother they wanted. Throughout the entire film I was wondering about how the eldest child was feeling. She is young and she should should be playing with toys and being lost in her own world. She should not be having to deal with adult issues. As I am writing this write now I am so hungry so I can relate to the children when they said they were hungry. I want some McDonald’s too.

Having known people in the mother’s situation myself I am torn. I feel for the kids but I also somewhat feel for the mom. Like I said before being a single parent is the toughest most unforgiving job in the world, but then saying that I feel like I am excusing the mom from her poor choices. I feel that that mother truly loved her children as is evident at the end of the film, but she didn’t have the necessary skills to deal with her situation.

And the Winner Is… Me! (Because I’m Not Going To Waste My Time Watching The Oscars)

Photo of Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington of "The Ricky Gervais Show"

Why is the Oscars also called the Academy Awards? Truly… I really don’t care. The Oscars is a glitz and glamor meeting for overly paid people coming together to have others brag about them. Also, I do not understand why people win they say, “I want to thank God for this opportunity.” How come it’s OK to thank God when they win, but they never blame God when they lose like “why God, why have you forsaken me. From now on I’m praying to Satan.” I myself am not really into the whole God craze. I agree with Ricky Gervais when he said at the end of the Golden Globes “I want to thank God for making me an atheist.”

The event is a sort of marketing tools for the actors. Why do you think they come in expensive clothes and jewelry, which is given to the actors by those companies? When they

Photo of Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington of "The Ricky Gervais Show" in Cartoon Form

sit there in anticipation hoping that they win and then they don’t. Have you seen the looks of the losers? Actors have such fragile egos. I would have liked to have Ricky Gervais host the Oscars, but of course the actors might cry. Honestly, I would rather spend three hours watching “Intervention” then watching the Oscars. Watching the Oscars might lead to me needing an “intervention. Sabrina Khan does not agree with me:” I love the Oscars but sometimes I don’t agree with them.”

Heading for Hollywood? Don’t Forget to Pack Your Storyline!

Mike Hale of the New York Times asked in his article “WatchList: Web Series With Polish“:

Do you prefer the polish (relatively speaking) of works subsidized by sponsors or prominent Web-video sites? Or do you look for the rougher, let’s-put-on-a-show feeling of the D.I.Y. independents?

If I have to choose the answer to that question based on the web series that I saw: Oh, Inverted World and Suite 7 I would have to choose… well, let me explain:

Oh, Inverted World is a 13 part web series that deals with four friends who are returning home from college. According to the website these college students return home to find out that the moon will fall on the earth. The problem that I have with this is that I figured out more about the web series from reading of the website’s About page than I did watching the first episode, titled “Neighborhood.” That’s the problem. Most viewers who come to your website don’t come to read the About page they come to see the webisode.

I found “Neighborhood” to be boring, confusing and all over the place. The web series was written and created by Terence Krey, who also plays the character of Finn. The other three main characters are Mina, played by Pamela Bell, Art, played by Christian Nilsson, and Rob, played by Alex Longo. Throughout the 9 min. and 23 seconds all the characters did was drive around in a car, walk in house, and go to a bar. I didn’t see anything that kept me interested. I was praying for it to be over. The film was made in black and white, which I suspect was made to give it a touch of mystery because if you don’t know what the colors really are it keeps you guessing, or the writer could have thought it looked nice. I did not really have a problem with the black and white. My real problem had to do with the lack of a storyline.

After watching the whole 9 min. and 23 seconds I still had no idea what I just saw. What was the whole purpose of the film? Since it is a web series, I understand that the writers and creators want to leave cliffhangers to make sure people keep tuning in to watch, but all I really wanted to do was go to another website and watch something else. The actors themselves weren’t the best but I can’t really blame them, considering what they had to work with. Honestly I thought the actors were confused as much as I was.

I am well aware that these are not seasoned actors such as Johnny Depp or Sandra Bullock, and they do not have a $100 million dollar budget. However, you do not need $100 million, or A-list actors to write a good script. A great script can make even an average actor look brilliant.

Had the storyline been made clearer it could have made up for the actors performance. However, if there whole idea was “I want to bore you till you die or until you wish you were” then they succeeded. Overall I would have to say based off of this one webisode if you are thinking about seeing this film, don’t. It’s a good thing it was free because if it wasn’t I would’ve asked for my money back. Whether you are twenty-something or one hundred-something this film is not for you.

“For Richer or Poorer” is a webisode that is part of Suite 7 on Lifetime.com and sponsored by The Better Sleep Council. The webisode stars Tony Janning and Tara Perry. Basically, it’s about this newlywed couple who, on their wedding night, finds a huge amount of money and also discovers that they are not as compatible as they thought. The story has a comedic tone which to be honest, I didn’t think it would. Considering that it’s shown on Lifetime I figured that it would be a drama centered on a woman, but I was wrong and I am glad that I was wrong. Men and woman would both find this funny, no matter the age. Sabrina Khan who also saw the film said “It was a very Lifetime movie. It was a romantic comedy. I was waiting to be board, but it surprised me…making me laugh.”

The story takes place in a hotel room (Suite 7). When it comes to the actors themselves I feel that they both did a great job. Even though both actors have done previous film work (Janning has been in The Temp Life and Squatters and Perry appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! playing Mel Gibson’s daughter in the sketch “The Colonel.” Both actors have also appeared in “The Legend of Neil”), honestly I didn’t know who they were. The only problem with it was that I wish it was longer than 5 min. and 48 seconds.

Two unknown actors could’ve played those parts because of its great storyline. Could the previous work have helped them play the characters? I have no doubt that it probably did, but if the storyline would’ve been horrible then they’re acting would have also been horrible.

When it comes to whether a work that has a sponsor is better than a do-it-yourself independent the answer comes down to the storyline. No matter if you have millions of dollars to spend or you decide to create a story that takes place in one room, the thing that’s going to standout is the storyline.

Let me put it this way: if the work that is sponsored and has millions of dollars has a better storyline than the one that’s not then I go for the sponsored, if it’s the other way around, then I’ll go for the independent.

If you are interested in watching more short films or just learning about them I strongly suggest the film site Short Film Central.