Go see the best of DC Shorts on Thursday night at E Street Cinema.
It was a great festival again. I’ve volunteered with DC Shorts for more than four years now and each year it gets better and better.
My personal favorite film in the festival was Funky Prairie Boy. It won the Diversity Award (presented by Verizon). This short Canadian film is about:
A young boy living in a small prairie town during the early 1980s, befriends the only black kid at his school and soon discovers the prejudice that exists within his friends, his family and even in himself.
It’s got the most well-developed story of all the films I saw at DC Shorts. The characters seem real, all of them a mix of good and bad impulses. The short film captures the awkwardness of children dealing with adult issues of race and prejudice. Yet, it’s not an afterschool special, where the plot is driven by social points to be made. Instead, it’s a messy and funny look at kids trying to be kids. While they’re trapped in a rigid world that they didn’t create, they just want to dance and hangout.
I’m not a fan of message movies. Funky Prairie Boy is above all, a good story, one that just happens to deal with touchy issues. Plus, it’s got some rocking music and excellent performances by the young leads.
I had a chance to talk to the director of Funky Prairie Boy, Mike Schultz, at the DC Shorts Awards Brunch. One of the great things about the festival is the accessibility of the directors. Identifiable by their blue badges, you can find them at parties, at Q&A sessions following the films and just hanging out in front of the theater. We’re so not LA…
Mike explained that this was a story long in development. It started with a script that was a recipient of the Worldwide Short Film Festivals Giveaway Prize. Mike won a bunch of film equipment and then took a couple of years rounding up a crew to help turn his short screenplay into a movie. This time was well-spent.
As Jon Gann, Founder of DC Shorts said, this was the year of the technically competent film. Advances in technology have made it possible for nearly anyone to turn out a gorgeous looking short movie. However, the best cameras in the business can’t compensate for the lack of a good story, one with a beginning, middle and end.