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Arts & Culture

Film School Confidential: A Showcase of San Diego and Tijuana Filmmakers

Film School Confidential: A Showcase of San Diego and Tijuana Filmmakers returns Sunday April 15 to the Museum of Photographic Arts for its sixth annual event. The curated festival showcases short works from high school through grad school students as well as local area filmmakers. Films screen at 6:00 pm followed by a dessert buffet with the filmmakers. One highlight this year is the world premiere of Cathy Alberich's

Algesia. Cathy Alberich's Algesia is having its world premiere at FSC

As the host and curator of Film School Confidential , I am thrilled once again to be able to highlight the diverse work being done by filmmakers in the San Diego and Tijuana area. Other local festivals showcase student work but they often take submissions from around the country and even the globe. Film School Confidential focuses exclusively on works being done locally in the San Diego and Tijuana region. In addition, there are no calls for entries and filmmakers do no have to pay an entry fee to submit their work. Instead it is a curated event in which filmmakers must be invited to participate, This year the festival will present 14 short films ranging from experimental to narrative fiction to documentary. The films come from as far north as Cal State University San Marcos and as far south as Tijuana. We have filmmakers still in their teens and others who have now moved on to graduate school. Here is a schedule of what's showing.


Beautiful Dogs (SDSU, 2006) 7 minutes

Writer/director: Gary Bulkin

The festival starts with a quirky documentary that goes behind the doors of a dog beauty salon to reveal how far dog owners will go to beautify the man's best friend. Never mean-spirited, the film finds humor in the way people obsess over their pets. Look for the purple nail polish and green hair tinting.

Pintando la Comunidad (Teen Producers Project, 2007) 10 minutes

Directors Sonia Alvarado, Christian Garcia, Madai Garduno, Brian Gonzalez, Julio Hernandez, Abraham Lopez Jr., Emilio Lopez, Ailec Mora, Victor Munoz, Argenis Rodriguez, Jessica Ruiz


Victor Ochoa is the subject of Pintando la Comunidad

This documentary offers a glimpse at some of the motivating factors and philosophies behind the work of Chicano artist and activist, Victor Ochoa, who is also scheduled to be in attendance at the festival. The film was produced as part of the wonderful Teen Producers Project, which gives young people the means to go into their communities to make films about what's important to them. These teens have crafted an insightful portrait of a man who combines art and activism, and provides a source of inspiration.

Backlash (Point Loma High School, 2006) 6 minutes

Writer/director: Torin Ladewig

A betrayed girlfriend gets back at her ex in a series of events that mirror lifewhere actions are often seen before their motivations. A short music video that experiements with the medium in a clever way. Another film from the very prolific Point Loma High School.

Case Study 511 (CSUSM, 2006) 6 minutes

Filmmakers: Christopher Schnese, Eric Darwin, Josh Westbrook

Case 511 is a short video depicting a single location and the events that transpire there at two different moments in time. Although shot on video, the images have a very filmic quality as the filmmakers work in difficult nighttime and low light conditions. A trippy, hypnotic nocturnal journey.

Final Sigh (SDSU) 2 minutes Original format: DV

Composited, edited and directed by Fernando Ramos

A stylized, kinetic music video that the filmmaker says is "inspired by the anime work of director Osamu Tezaki." The computer generated images reveal a playful quality that engages the viewer. Music performed by indie rock group J.D. Romance.

Jesus Yanez' documentary Interview with Elijio

An Interview With Elijio (CSUSM) 13 minutes

Shot and Cut by Jesus Yanez

An Interview With Elijio is an interview briefly explaining the life before, during, and after Elijio Gonzalez crossed the U.S. Mexico border. The opening and closing sequences show the life in Mexico, while the interview explains Elijios journey. Simple and direct, this documentary uses one man's experiences to humanize the issues we see daily in the media. The intimate focus makes the story compelling and the graceful images find beauty and poignancy in everyday life.

Phone_Graph (SDSU) 5 minutes

Audio and Video by C.W.Mossholder

Phone_ Graph is an audio/visual experience that was shot entirely on a cellphone. Mossholder says "it is a journey through the beauty of digital artifacting." This experimental work plays with new technology to reveal how the medium is ever-changing and providing new means of expression to young filmmakers.

Perspective (CSUSM) 3 minutes

Filmmaker Kurt Jackson

Jackson serves up a very simple account of a life-changing trip to Mexico. The personal narration is very honest and sincere. The film offers hope that you may actually be able to change the world one person at a time.

The Percussion Of Strings (SDSU) 7 minutes

Director C.W.Mossholder Director of photography Angel Granados

The Percussion of Strings looks at composer Laura Karpman and the use of prepared piano in her work. In Phone-Graph Mossholder displayed a very experimental style as he eschewed conventional narrative for an audio-visual mood piece. in The Percussion of String he still maintains an experimental visual approach but works within a more structured narrative as he creates a portrait of an innovative artist.

Shattered (Point Loma High School, 2006) 12 minutes

Writer/director Tyler Knell

A troubled boy finds an object in his garden that could solve all his problems...or multiply them. Another entry from Point Loma High, Shattered displays a technical polish that you don't often find in young filmmakers. Knell has now moved on to USC film school where he is continuing to pursue his passion for film.

Nathan Gibbs' Crayola Monologues

Crayola Monologues (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2003) Original format: JPEG (shot with digital stills and animated)

Created by Nathan Gibbs

Filmmaker Nathan Gibbs says, " Craylola Monologues uses the crayon as a human metaphor for race and identity. The animated video takes a humorous approach to revealing the politics behind Crayola label changes, by allowing crayons to express how color hierarchy shapes their lives." You can't get any more low budget than photographing crayons, but Gibbs proves that clever writing and a strong creative vision are worth far more than a big budget. This film is playful and humorous but with a biting social message. The film makes us do a double take as it points out how seemingly trivial things--like the names of colors on crayons--can reflect bigger social issues.

Deacons Mondays (SDSU, 2006) Original format: 19 minutes

Writers/directors/editors Lowell Frank, Destin Daniel Cretton

Frank and Cretton's Deacon's Mondays

Deacon lives in a fantastical world of snowing feathers, hailing golf balls and incredible guilt. Through an unlikely friendship with an elderly woman, he comes face to face with his own humanness and learns that he is not alone. (Original score by acclaimed San Diego singer/songwriter Greg Laswell). The film will be proceeded by a trailer for Drakmar , a documentary by Frank and Cretton that will be screening as part of the HBO Family series. Frank and Cretton are filmmakers that I have had the pleasure of watching grow and mature over the years. Their films reveal a meticulous sense of detail and production design, and their films surprise us with their ability to create images that seem to far exceed their limited budgets. I highly recommend checking out Drakmar when it airs. It starts out as one thing and slyly and gracefully twists and turns into something much richer and deeper than you expected. Deacon's Mondays combines a literary quality in its voice over narrative combined with a striking visual sensibility.

Basic Self-Portrait (Escuela Superior de Artes

Visuales/Mexico, 2006) 2 minutes

Filmmaker: Paulina Bahena

From the filmmaker:

"I hate to talk about myself or about any person.

For me it is very difficult to describe someone.

A person is more complicated that 20, 50, 1000 words.

A person is more complicated than 1, 4, 6, 100 images.

We can just say or describe a basic portrait of somebody, no more."

A lovely and provocative experimental work from Bahena. This short work manages to cram a lot of ideas about self-image and art into less than two-minutes. Bahena's film is smart and dynamic.

Algesia (Mexico, 2007) 14 minutes

Writer/director: Cathy Alberich Cinematographer/Editor: Aaron Soto

Alice is a strange and lonely girl. She has a scientific job by day, a crush on her neighbor by night, and a dark obsession that leads to a violent climax. Not for the squeamish at heart. Cathy Alberich and Aaron Soto are two Tijuana filmmakers that I have eagerly followed ever since Soto showed me a visionary short film shot for $200 in Mexico. Soto and Alberich now collaborate on films and their collaboration reveals a meticulous attention to both image and sound. Alberich has a particularly amazing eye for color and Soto has a great sense of composition. Together they deliver a film that is visually arresting and darkly provocative in its themes. I've heard rumors of a feature film from them and I can only hope those rumors are true.

Please join me for this celebration of local filmmakers Sunday April 15 at 6:00pm at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. For directions to the museum call 619-238-7559. For information on the festival call 858-442-5564.

Listen to a discussion about Film School Confidential on These Days' Weekend Update.