By Abbie Bennett
Carrboro Commons Co-editor
“We’re one of the largest short film festivals in the South,” Nic Beery, Carrboro resident, co-founder and co-chair of the festival said. “This year’s films were thought-provoking and very well made.”
This was the first year that the festival accepted submissions from anywhere in North Carolina. Previous festival filmmakers had to prove a connection to Carrboro, but this year the festival decided to open to all North Carolinian filmmakers.
“We want to get the best [films] that we possibly can,” said Jackie Helvey, of Carrboro, co-founder and co-chair of the festival.
This year’s festival applicants submitted their work online, making it easier for filmmakers across the state to participate.
“The submission process is streamlined now,” Beery said. “It’s quick, simple and environmentally friendly. That’s what we wanted to achieve this year.”
According to Beery, the participants could complete the application, link to their film and pay their submission fee and in one easy, environmentally-friendly process.
The festival hosted 29 films in three blocks during the six hours of the festival. Question and answer sessions were held at the end of each block and a 10-minute break preceded the following group of films.
Content and style of the submissions ranged from documentaries on local organic farming, music, narratives, animation, photography, mental health, stop-motion, environmentalism and horror.
“We were very pleased by this year’s submissions,” Beery said. “Our expectations get higher and higher each year, but the films always surpass those expectations.”
The festival committee handed out awards in seven categories, and the audience was able to participate in a popular vote.
To loud cheers, the first audience award went to “El Caffinato” by Rory Bradley and Liz Levitt-Bradley, a short rock opera loosely inspired by a classic Western narrative set among hipsters in a coffee shop. Equal applause greeted the second audience award, which went to “Scraps” by Kate Burgauer, a narrative film.
The festival committee gave awards for best professional film, best student film, best cinematography, best animation, best documentary, best narrative fiction and best acting.
El Caffinato took the best professional film award along with its audience award.
The best student film award went to “Nite Lite” by Mariah Dunn, a 5-minute animated experimental film.
Burgauer’s “Scraps” took home the best cinematography award.
The award for best animation went to “Wiggle Room” by Joe Schenkenberg, a stop-motion animation about a slug having an adventure in a kitchen while the owner is away.
Rodrigo Dorfman’s “One Night in Kernsville,” a documentary about jazz musicians today, earned the award for best documentary.
The best narrative fiction film award was given to “Deviling” by Michael Sharpe, a horror narrative about a woman ending her relationship with a mortician.
The best acting award went to Robert Haulbrook for his role as the mortician in “Deviling.”
While the films containing violence, sex and profanity were saved for the final block of the festival from 5:30-7 p.m., younger members of the audience had a chance to enjoy the animated submissions.
“I liked the cartoons!” said Dylan Thomas, 5, of Carrboro. “I liked the slug movie, it was really cool. The colors were bright and the slug was green. Green’s my favorite color,” he said.
Thomas agreed with the committee’s choice to name “Wiggle Room” the best animated film of the night.
“Those judges were really smart,” Dylan said. “But I think the slug movie should have won everything!” he grinned.
Dylan’s mother, Anita Thomas, a 29-year-old stay-at-home mother and Carrboro native, said she was happy there were films that Dylan enjoyed during the block of the festival she chose to attend from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
“This was a great event to bring him to,” she said. “There were educational films, funny films, films for me to enjoy, and animated movies that he loved. This is a great event for anyone to attend, including children, because it brings our community together.”
Dylan agreed with his mother and said he thought it was a good event to help celebrate Carrboro’s 100th birthday.
“I wish I could have a birthday party this cool!” he said.