It's in our DNA. It defines us. It separates us for the rest of the Animal Kingdom. No, not our opposable thumbs, or our ability to make tools. It is our need to share stories.
From cave paintings, to the theatrical Festivals of Dionysus, to the Guttenberg press, to Hollywood and the internet, we as a species have a primal need to share our stories. Some tell them, some listen, a symbiotic relationship between artist and audience.
It is in our DNA.
This year's filmmakers have the same drive to share their stories as the cave painters of prehistoric France, as Socrates and Euripides. They have struggled to get words on paper as much as the early authors of the Middle Ages, and have fought as hard as Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, or Stephen Spielberg to bring those words to life on the screen. Sure, the tools of storytelling have changed over the years, but not the drive.
On Friday, Timothy and Patrick Chapman pit familial DNA against artist DNA in Phin. In Waking, Skyler Caleb and Ben Shelton question reality, Fate and Destiny in the form of a love story of dreams. Zak Forsman pumps us full of adrenalin and fulfills our secret desires to be a bad-assed anti-hero when things get Downand Dangerous. Then for some late night fun, Jeffrey Schoettlin and Robert Taleghany look at just how stupid love can make a man in American Idiots.
Love, sex, and emotional confusion go hand-in-hand, so are often the focus of our need to share stories. On Saturday, Michael Doneger and Michael David Lynch tackle the pain of life on the rebound as they tells us about This Thing With Sarah. Tom Glynn explores our relationships with our cars. In Automotive, the car in question belongs to a man confused by love, and trapped in a life of crime. Then, what Saturday night would be complete without a midnight movie of blood, screams, and dreams of an eternal life of youth and beauty? We've told scary stories around campfires for centuries – now we tell them in horror movies. In Chastity Bites, Lotti Pharriss Knowles takes this genre to a new level – with intelligent, hilarious, dialogue, a flawless cast and tons of fun.
We bring out our Sunday best with two entirely different styles of indie film. Cement Suitcase will charm you with J. Rick Castañeda's script and Dwayne Bartholomew's performance of life's every day struggles in small town America. Drew Thomas's Channeling shows us the danger of exploitation of our real-life stories, while filling our need for for fast-action, emotional insight, and sic-fi adventure.
Monday night brings Ryan James Russell's Reach., which dives into two of humanities deepest enigmas, love and death, while Chioke Nassor wonders just what our impact on the world is, and if they'll miss us when we're gone, in How To Follow Strangers.
Tuesday, we get to re-live adolescence through the wonderfully stylized eyes of Dan Lee in MurtRamirez Wants To Kick My Ass. Later, we jump back into the complex adult world as Sam Hancock, Dan Mayer and Matt McKay – together with a standout performance by Alanna Ubach – delve into the limits of acceptance in Us.
Livia De Paolis and Sarah Nerboso also wonder about this human obsession of sharing ourselves – from groups online, to individuals in our lives – in their modern family drama, Emoticon ;). Later, David F. Morgan and Cora Benesh tell the story of a generation lost in over and under achievement in City Baby.
It's only paranoia if you're wrong. Friday, Eddy Salazar, Peter Kenneth Jones and Monty Miranda do what Shakespeare did in The Scottish Tragedy – as The Insomniac explores a life without sleep. What happens to our minds when we don't dream? Whatever it is, it isn't pretty. Joe Eddy then takes a good hard look at family, friends, foes, and immigration laws in Coyote. Then Jono Oliver wonders exactly what is Home?
On our first Second Friday (kind of like Second Breakfast), Steve Chong Finds Out That Suicide Is A Bad Idea, as Owen Hornstein III unravels a drama in the isolation of a lake-house. Odin Ozdil uses the 2008 housing crash to see how world economic forces effect our everyday lives in California Winter, while J.C. Schroder takes the apocalypse even further in Forever's End. Midnight is once again turned on its head when Will Prescott's imaginary friends get a job Feeding Mr. Baldwin.
Since Comedia del Arte or the 1500's we've seen love stories about gambling over amorous conquests, but what happens in modern times when The Bet is between grandfather and grandson? That's the story Annie J. Dahlgren, Christina Eliason and Finola Hughes tell us Saturday afternoon. Paul Osborne then wonders how far an otherwise moral, upstanding, person will go when things start to unravel around him, just for asking a friend for a not-so-simple Favor. Tamas Harangi feels the pangs of injustice, and explores the pros and cons of vigilantism in The Advocate, while Bernie Van De Yacht and Brett Donowho wonder exactly what is Salvation? But who really cares about such weighty issues when there are boobs, booze, and buds at midnight, in Scott Donnelly, Erik Lindsay and Greg Garthe's Last Call?
Sunday afternoon, we look behind the walls of prejudice to find out the truth of matters in the purgatory between freedom and incarceration, via James Brannon and Richard Friedman's Halfway To Hell. Brian Jun and Jack Sanderson turn us back to the observation of this year's festival, storytelling is in our DNA – when She Loves Me Not looks into a famous author's inability to tell another story, while his assistant can't get the world to listen to her first one. Then put your dancing shoes on, and fill your glasses for the rock & rollingest good times of Lance Lindahl's Hay Days. And finally, Blu de Goyler and David Mun plunge us into the oldest story of all time, in the House of Good and Evil.
Like DNA, each of these films – and the shorts and documentaries too numerous to mention here – are unique, yet they have so much in common. They are the creation of their mothers and fathers – our filmmakers – and yet, they now take on a life of their own. A life we hope you will all enjoy.