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Short films on a Saturday Nite

First in a series of local short film nights
By Joshua Maldonado | May 30, 2014
Photo by: Kari Curtis

 

When Kristin Baumann of the Island Free Library asked me to emcee a night of short films made by Block Islanders, I was not only touched but possessed: out there, in the remote corners of some islander’s neglected basement, is a minor masterpiece waiting to be unearthed.

I tend to romanticize the hunt for the unknown. My incurable desire to find love in the unloved or plain forgotten movies of yesterday is influenced by a history of collecting records and books. The intent is never to champion the obscure for obscurity’s sake, but to indulge in that rare chance to re-evaluate art after the dust has settled, once the public’s interest has been set in stone, locked away and archived.

Sometimes, as expected, the glittering expectancies of hype turn to a burnished brown. Some things are best left unearthed, though even the shoddiest work of art asks only a few moments of your time.

Ultimately I just like to watch local folks act. The thrill of watching a waitress who’s taken the night off from working at Poor People’s Pub to don a wig and star in her friend’s movie as an eccentric grandmother with a gambling addiction is a brave choice that speaks directly to my heart.

Island residents are encouraged to contact me if they have movies in any medium that need watching.

Spirited call to arms aside, the three local films I have most connected with are decidedly not amateur in the ramshackle sense of the word — homespun comes close. Woolly? In any case, they’re fully-realized cinematic visions pared down to the essentials — strong narrative, strong acting, inspired direction.

The Rescue [2003]

Length: 11:23

Directed by: David Conover

Like the majority of the island’s residents, I have witnessed firsthand the compassion that First Warden Kim Gaffett has for animal life. In this short and ever-so-sweet documentary, she’s at her busiest and most mesmerizing: cheerfully driving a school bus, working the (now-defunct) printing press and rescuing a foreign bird who’s traveled a long wayward distance, all with relative ease and confidence.

The Listeners [2005]

Length: 15:00

Directed by Mike Gills

Written by Lars Trodson

Lars Trodson, the editor of The Block Island Times, wrote and produced this stark, sobering short about a married couple struggling to overcome the self-importance and petty arguments that define their relationship. A chance encounter with an unknown while driving home puts perspective in their otherwise risk-free lifestyle. Tense, deliberately paced with a satisfying outcome. Recommended.

Fiddler’s Green [1993]

Length: 18:00

Directed by: Chad Andrews and Ken Schweizer

Written by: Chad Andrews

Without a doubt, this is the biggest suprise yet unearthed in the search for Block Island film artifacts. Not only is “Fiddler’s Green” an exceptional short film worthy of praise outside this humble festival, it casts the entire island in that isolated unearthly glow we tend to forget during the busier seasons. The story of two young adults reuniting on Block Island following the death of a mutual friend is realistic and hits home. All landmarks and private spots are carefully composed and shot beautifully. A minor masterpiece.

Join us at the Island Free Library on Saturday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. to watch all three short films. Refreshments will be served.

 

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