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The Blue & Gray Press | April 24, 2017

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Local Film Festival Returns

By Missak Artinian

From the bizarre to the brilliant, the experimental to the conventional, the second annual Rappahannock Independent Film Festival showcased a wide range of creativity this year. The variety, and indeed the quality, varied among the short films; however, despite their shorter length, the best of the films retained much of the magic and power of their feature-length silver-screen siblings.

After all the screening sessions were over, and more than twenty-five short films were shown (some ran for a mere five minutes and others lasted more than an hour), only a few films were honored with awards for outstanding achievement.

“The Paradigm Shift,” directed by Jon Barr and written and produced by Sam Holdren, won the award for “Best Student Film.” This well-written, character-driven short features a professor by the name of Dr. Collins, who, in a pretentious voice, vehemently urges his students to never go down without a fight, to stand up and rebel against the man.

However, when Dr. Collins assigns his class to plan an assassination on the President, the dean forces Dr. Collins to apologize to his students and the faculty for his ridiculous and offensive assignment.  Because submissiveness is against his nature, Dr. Collins decides to practice what he preaches.  He decides not only to not apologize, but also to exacerbate the situation by justifying his stance.  The winner for best documentary went to “Beyond the Call,” which was directed by Adrian Belic. This eighty-two minute documentary chronicles the heroic humanitarian efforts of three middle-aged men, Ed, Jim and Walt, who directly aid civilians in war-torn and impoverished parts of the world through their self-financed organization.

Among the many generous, courageous and selfless things they do, they buy a solar-powered oven for Afghan students in Afghanistan to help raise money for their school, give $2,000 to a under-resourced textile company for employee salaries, and donate computers, clothing, food and other necessities to impoverished regions in Uzbekistan and Taiwan.

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, “Beyond the Call” had a powerful effect on the audience because of the anecdotes of personal sacrifice.  At one point, one of the men admitted that he needed a root canal, but he didn’t go through with it because it would cost him $700.  “Do you know how many pounds of rice that could buy?” the man asks.

The winner of best student film went to “Nunna Mia E La Barca” (My Grandmother and the Boat), which was an interesting twelve minute short that told the story of a woman who survived a sinking ship using voiceover narration and the flashbacks of the grandmother as a young girl on a boat.

All of the festival winner’s were awarded $300, except for Best in Show winner “Shadows” which earned $500.

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