Short and sweet

Local festival features short films


courtesy 2016 Short. Sweet. Film Fest Facebook page

The festival presented short films from filmmakers around the world, including a CWRU student.

Over a period of three days in early March, a film festival in downtown Cleveland showcased the talent of directors, actors, producers and editors, all of whom work on short films. The Short. Sweet. Film Fest celebrated its fifth year, and included work from aspiring local and foreign filmmakers, live post-show music, gourmet food and art.

The festival, founded by Cleveland native Mike Suglio and his friend Alex Pavloff, was built on the principle of showcasing local filmmaking talent. It expanded this year to include international filmmakers as well, but according to Suglio the emphasis “has always been centered on talent located throughout the Cleveland area.”

This year, approximately 155 films were submitted to the festival, with 90 films shown at this year’s showcase. The festival was presented at the Alex Theater at the Metropolitan at the 9, a new venue for the festival as it was previously hosted at Market Garden Brewery, but was recently changed due to the greater size of the Alex Theater.

Even though the festival was only three days long, many genres were represented, including suspense, comedy, adventure and drama. All the films ranged from one to 28 minutes, and the short time length helped increase the festival’s variety. The atmosphere of the festival was unique, with a cozy location and friendly audience members. The theater itself was small but compact, and a whiff of incense was in the air as other patrons and I entered, rows upon rows of leather seat recliners marking the center of the theater. From early Friday evening onwards, this pleasant smell and the comfort of the festival in general created a feeling of warmth.

Many of the films made their mark on me, including a technically impressive and somber drama titled “What Was Left” by Jake Nathanson, about a young man dealing with the aftermath of his estranged father’s death. Other highlights included a series of very short films parodying Hollywood sensibilities by director Jon Mancinetti, and an especially strong fantasy film about Norse mythology by international filmmaker Morten Forland called “Total Awesome Viking Power.”

A local standout from Rebekah Camp, Case Western Reserve University student, was the psychological film “Cold Coffee.” The film was loosely based on the case of notorious kidnapper Ariel Castro, infamous for his abductions in the Cleveland area. The story follows a man dealing with his personal feelings about the person he has abducted and keeps in the basement of their home. A major component of the film is the lack of sound and weird imagery surrounding the Castro-like character.

During the Q&A session following the showing of “Cold Coffee,” Camp said that the film “started as a short story from one of my classes about the point of view of a criminal” during her sophomore year. Camp attended the New York Film Academy while making the film.

Due to a lack of adequate film equipment at CWRU, Camp shot it as a silent film with a constant rumbling sound in the background. “The film was always supposed to be silent, as there was no dialogue in the script I wrote before filming,” said Camp. “But I guess the rumbling sound worked in the end.”

Overall, the film made an impact, and showcased not only Camp’s ability to tell a story with visual media, but also her ability to approach budget and equipment problems creatively.

“The festival this year was selling out more than previous years,” said Suglio, reflecting on the larger venue size. “And that is just fantastic to say.”

It is an accomplishment for a local event like this to extend its reach, especially when it can continue to feature local talent while incorporating foreign films. Festivals like this promise many more nights of quality short films in the future from the Short. Sweet. Film Fest.

Event: Short. Sweet. Film Fest
Date: March 4-6 2016
Founders: Mike Suglio and Alex Pavloff
Rating: ★★★★★