The Film Festival

This was the fifth year of the Full Bloom Film Festival in Statesville and it was a fun weekend. I’d missed the first four, so was so excited that this time I could experience it.

It had been a lot of years since I had been to a film festival, and I had forgotten how much I love them. I wanted to support it by volunteering, but thinking about film possibilities during the weekend I looked for ways that wouldn’t interfere with seeing the movies I wanted to see.

Transportation fit the bill. I signed up for two shifts to pick up filmmakers at the Charlotte airport, more than an hour away. The first day there was no one for me to pick up but Friday I took an early trip to pick up Brittany and Oz. They were a great couple from Orlando. Brittany was the filmmaker, her film Astrid, the Human the story of a lovely young woman from Guatemala, who was a Dreamer….one of the young people allowed permanent residency under Obama’s Dream Act. I saw the film later in the weekend and was impressed by the film made about this charismatic young woman (by another charismatic young woman) on no budget.

I picked some movies based on relationships….Astrid to support Brittany and 12 Seconds of Gunfire: The True Story of A School Shooting, a film made by my friend Sheila’s sister Suzette Moyer. Suzette works for the Washington Post and made the film with a co-worker. It was done in animation….which for me added an interesting contrast to the horrific subject manner.

you A group of young people from the NC School of the Arts did a wonderful short film Shelter about a young woman and her daughter turning themselves into immigration authorities, The idea of mother and child being separated was compelling.

A couple from California did a wrenching film Flying Fur about a pilot who does dog rescue. Their sweet dog was probably patted a million times during the course of the weekend….he was one of the “stars” of their film. A great way to see their story come full circle.

I saw one feature, Last Call, about a guy who thought he was calling a suicide hotline and instead got a single mother working at a janitor in a school. The movie was brilliantly shot with just two continuous shots, shown mostly in split screen. The camera work was sensational. The characters phenomenal.

Another feature, Above the Clouds was about a teenager and a homeless man’s trek to Sky, Scotland to meet her biological father, that she had just found out about by accident. Both make personal realizations through the journey.

We Were Islands was the story of a couple that may possibly be the story of the wrong thing at the right time. Liberty was a two minute film with powerful impact. Dreams was the story of some seldom discussed African Americans in history, told by some very well-spoken teens. Atrevidos, which gives another side to Fidel Castro.

Panel Discussion with (l to r) Jorge Gomez of Atrevidos; Sheldon Candis of Dreams; and Brittany Todd, of Astrid, the Human

I don’t know how many movies I saw over the course of the weekend, but it was a lot. They made me think. They made me feel. They made me excited about the passion of these amazing filmmakers. The Q&As with the filmmakers added to that passion and got me excited about their futures.

Some of the films may be available online after festival season is over…or there may be a festival in your neighborhood where these or other films may be shown. For me it was refreshing to see films that weren’t big budget blockbusters. To see films driven not necessarily by big business and big budgets, but instead by personal passions is a nice change.

Spending some time thinking about the issues presented, and being gloriously surprised at the quality of the films being made, was exhilarating. Some I saw I have not mentioned here…I crammed in as many as I possibly could, yet there were so many I missed. That was a big frustration. But I’ll be looking for more opportunities to do this again and try to keep an eye out for opportunities to view some I missed.

Add a film festival to your list if things to do. We’d love you to visit Statesville next year, but there are others all over the country in big cities and small towns. Look out for these films…,and let me know what you think. You can find the full listing of what was shown at https://fullbloomfilmfestival.org/2019-films.

Suzette Moyer, 12 seconds of Gunfire
The NC School of the Arts team behind Shelter
Amrita Pradhan, of We Were Islands

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