Highlights from GSFF 2011

Going to this year's Garden State Film Festival was a treat for my producer, Peter Srinivasan, and me, not the least because we got to see DIRTY HANDS screened for a large crowd of unsuspecting viewers... Peter and I both love watching movies, and while we'd been to screenings as part of Ithaca, New York's Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF- it's a great time, you should go), we'd never had a chance to spend an entire day at a film fest, trying to watch as many movies as we could.

Two, actually. Three, if we're being generous the ceremony on opening night.

It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of great films to see- I can't write about them all, but here are a few highlights:

Dot- Directed by Bennett Elliott. A young girl with no friends of her own gets into a heated rivalry with another young inventor, as they seek to out-do each other with ever more elaborate contraptions. A sweet story, and very funny. Carol Jacobinis is hysterical as Dot's mother, an illustrator of morbid children's books.

Expecting Mary- Directed by Dan Gordon. Pregnant runaway Mary escapes to a downtrodden trailer park where she finally finds a family that cares about her. Like Dot[ref] They played together opening night [/ref], a sweet, light hearted film that balances heavy drama with silly comic relief. Olesya Rulin (Mary) keeps the story grounded while the other characters (including a wonderful Lainie Kazan) ascend to comic insanity.

Memories- Directed by Brian Kaufman. A great animated short about a human soul navigating the afterlife. His only company is an all-powerful entity that doesn't believe in God. Beautifully animated and surprisingly funny.

Vento- Directed by Marco Salem. A small village in Brazil is becoming windless. Hypnotic and poetic- see this for the cinematography, if nothing else. It's breathtaking[ref] Pun intended[/ref].

The Ground Keeper- Directed by Jenna Bush. A spare voice-over about the mechanics of kite flying gives the accompanying images a subtle beauty. Nicely done.

Emergency Contact- Directed by Anthony Guerrero & Jason Vu. This wasn't one I was planning to see, but it came on right after The Ground Keeper and I'm glad I stayed for it- Mike Lafferty, a recently graduated frat boy, discovers that a one-night-stand has listed him as her emergency contact. When she is killed in a car accident, Mike has to break the news to her family. They, of course, think he's her new boyfriend, coming over for dinner. A wonderful, demented comedy of errors.

Thanks to everyone who came to see DIRTY HANDS, especially Assistant Director Grace Foster and SWAT Captain Aaron Kapner, who brought along their family and friends!