Santa Fe International Film Festival Shorts by Emily Maya Mills, Fabio Colonna – Deadline

On top of New Mexico being a serious place for movies and TV shows — with the state raking in a record $855.4 million from Hollywood film and TV industry spending — Santa Fe itself has a fervent community of cinephiles, especially for art house products.

Audiences filled theaters across the city for the Santa Fe International Film Festival Oct. 19-23 for films of all shapes and sizes at venues including George RR Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema; the Spanish Moorish Revival of 1931 built the Lensic Theatre; and the two-story cinema bistro, the Violet Crown, in the posh Railway District, among others. When it comes to movie-going spirit, think Toronto, but on a much smaller scale.

Amy Redford, director of Roost, on the right. Courtesy of SFiFF

However, at a time when the industry is sweating as to when the over-40 population will return to movies post-pandemic, especially with the Los Angeles arthouse scene hampered by the Landmark on Pico and the completely dark Arclight; here’s the hope, Hollywood, in a city of 88,000 that older cinema is showing signs of life in America. Read, SFiFF booking of Amy Redford’s slow-burning YA thriller Perch was completely packed at the Violet Crown on Thursday night, and by the over 50 crowd. When I passed this on to a distribution executive this morning, they pointed out that Violet Crown is a mandatory reservation in the distribution track of any theatrical release, with the multiplex showing everything now from black adam at Tar.

So as the rest of the nation flocked to Dwayne Johnson black adam, and make it sound highest opening ever as a solo star ($67 million), Santa Fe took a break from the tentpoles this week in exchange for bolder distance. A diamond in the rough last night at SFiFF that even caught the attention of Dusk Filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, who was present for the entire two-hour plus Q&A block, was the showcase for the festival’s surreal shorts at the Center for Contemporary Arts Theater. The theater is located behind a parking lot in a residential part of town. The CCA had NEON’s David Bowie documentary Lunar dream currently on the marquee there, but this pic took hiatus for the night for a lineup of seven trippy shorts from filmmakers hailing from the Mexico, Canada, USC and UCLA film programs.


The most ambitious of these was the silent black-and-white horror short Unheimlich by the Mexican filmmaker Fabio Colonna who already has ten shorts under his belt – ambitious in the vibrant, rambling setting of the tunnel-like maze and the use of VFX in the monster’s transformation. The 16-minute film follows a young woman (Helena Puig), who wakes up from a nightmare during a rainy night. She walks through a surreal maze where she confronts a sinister creature (José María Higareda) in the mirror who then pursues her. It is a short film evoking German impressionism that would make Guillermo del Toro proud.

Then there was Upright Citizens Brigade and a USC alumnus and an LA-based comedienne Emilie Maya Mills which had two shorts that entered SFiFF: Boo Hag or Shadow Man in the genre of short films and It really happened in the surrealist section. Mills, whose TV credits include Agents of SHIELD, Warner Bros. Right now Kapow, Harry’s Law, The Birthday Boyshas a monthly comedy show in the Frogtown section of LA and is known not only for her sketch and improv work at UCB over the years, but also for her parade of quirky, socially oriented characters of her one-woman show god hates figs. Now taking his comedic voice and acting improv sensibility to the screen, Mills’ Boo Hag or Shadow Man, follows a registered nurse (Tiffany Gist) who returns home after a 12-hour shift, ready for a quiet evening of pancakes and trash TV. But her spirit-conjuring roommate (Eboni Adams) brings home some company – an angry specter she accidentally released from a client at work. Now they have to split the banishing duties and there’s no time for a chore wheel. Mills, wearing multiple hats, shot the short during Covid with her cast in an AirBnB; much of her under the front line crew zooming in on set. The short was Mills’ USC 546 thesis funded by the school through a pitch competition. You can watch the trailer below:

BOO HAG OR SHADOW MAN – TRAILER of Emilie Maya Mills on Vimeo.

Mills Eight-Minute Comedy It really happened who played the surreal section featuring his collaborator and Key and Peele actress Lindsay Ames and better things and party of five actress Carrie Aizley. Logline: After a morning yoga guilt trip, Lindsay chose not to buy bikes with her mother, citing hangover symptoms and toxic parenting, only to find herself held hostage by the hellish landscape of a sedan. Ames wrote the screenplay based on her saga of being locked in the car by her mother on the hottest day of the year.

“It was a true story,” Mills said during the Q&A, and that the production’s mot “was to follow the rhythms of the stages of grief.”

L to R: Jeff Hilliard, Emily Maya Mills. Photo credit: Deadline

“All I can tell you is that she (the mother) went to buy a bike and they were parked in a weird place and no one came – it was an hour and 15 minutes “, said the director. Mills shot the film with a handheld camera inside a BMW, also on one of the hottest days of the year in July between Covid surges. Mills starred in last year’s short Sound engineer who toured the festival.

Last night, Jeff Hilliard also made people laugh music video Consensual about a mobile guru who dreams of getting along with a girl he’s literally trying to hit on. Hilliard stars in the short with Hannah Boddy and Jessica Wall. The Los Angeles-based multihyphenate, whose film work has a musical bent, starred in Paul Schrader dogs eat dogs who played at the 2016 Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes. Green screen and visual effects were key to the Hysteric’s success Consensual which you can watch below:

Jeff Hilliard – Consensual (Official Music Video) of Jeff Hilliard on Vimeo.

A UCLA thesis film, Captain Ocean came from Jessie Klearman which starred her boyfriend Tre Smith as a guy who’s on the loose, hiding in Joshua Tree for a crime he didn’t commit, which he details throughout the film. Smith told the crowd that the short had his acting debut, which greatly expressed Hardwicke. He had previously worked in promotions, but acting is the new gig. Trailer below:

Monkey-Love, please wait, courtesy of SFiFF

From Toronto’s Ryerson Film program was Greg Foxis 24 minutes Monkey-Love, please hold on of a young man, (Dan Mousseau of wanderers) Obsessed by The Planet of the Apes, and recently broken up, who consoles herself in repeated on-air sex conversations with an office woman (Hannah Galway who stars in Cabinet of curiosities by Guillermo del Toro). Monkey-Love, please hold on is Fox’s seventh short.

Wild Card: left to right, Billy Flynn and Newton tipper

Paying great homage to those 1980s pulp thrillers like Robert Vincent O’Neil’s Angelbut much funnier, is that of Tipper Newton wild card, about a guy played by days of our lives Billy Flynn submitting on videotape to a dating service. He gets a call from Toni, dressed in red leather and chewing gum, which the director (whose TV credits include The Mindy Project, Curb Your Enthusiasm) also plays. Let’s just say this: she has a gun and a story. Savage Card is the third short film directed by Newton.

Detached, courtesy SFiFF

If there was a pattern to the lineup, four of the shorts centered on relationship issues. Co-directors Harry and Sidney Schleiff loves a couple whose life is bored and stagnates in Detached. However, their spirits leave their bodies, respectively on different nights, and they are replaced by hyper-energized and revitalized versions for better…or worse. The whole event forces them to confront the reality of life with an idealized version of themselves. The short recently played at the Hamptons Film Festival. Sidney Schleiff is a writer on the co-creation of Kid Cudi and Kenya Barris on Netflix Entergalactic.

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