Pahrump Valley Times: A total of 40 high-quality, local, national and international short films captivated audiences at the High Desert Shorts International Film Festival held in the Pahrump Nugget Event Center over the Memorial Day weekend. Filmmakers from around the world came to Pahrump to participate in the seventh annual short film festival.
“During seven years of existence, the festival has enjoyed the participation of filmmakers from every continent on the planet, except Antarctica,” said Linda Kass, festival founder and executive director, “and from forty states in the U.S.A.”
In welcoming remarks, Kass explained her philosophy that artists cannot work in a vacuum. “An artist needs an audience to gauge the success or failure of their work,” said Kass, “so we all appreciate that you have come to do that job.”
The visiting filmmakers added excitement to the event with their enthusiasm. V.W. Scheich introduced the audience to his biographical film “Wallenda” by riding through the room on a unicycle.
Scheich grew up in a family of circus performers so writing, producing and directing a film about Karl Wallenda, the foremost high-wire act in generations, was a natural. The audience roared with laughter and applause as Scheich briefly taught master of ceremonies, program director and good sport, Tony Mendoza, to take a turn on the single-wheeled bike.
Jennifer Simon joined Mendoza to help introduce films and filmmakers during the three-day event. She engaged the audience while delivering a microphone to the speakers as movie-goers quizzed the filmmakers.
Kass said Simon is a local high school student who has been a festival volunteer for the past four years, and who has taken part in the Youth Film Camp since 2008.
German producer Andres Albrecht took his opportunity on stage to explain the background of his science-fiction work, “Anaphora.” “I have always been intrigued by the concept of time and space travel as portrayed in the Terminator series of films,” said Albrecht.
He went on to share that with an extremely low budget available, he had to be inventive in making the film.
The explosion scenes showing vehicles rolling over were made by using his father’s model car collection and tumbling them by hand. He showed the audience his methods in sound effects by creating the realistic sound of a helicopter into the microphone.
“You film and edit with effects and a score until the scenes look and feel real,” Albrecht explained.
While judges pick all the other category winners, there is a ballot box for attendees to pick their favorite. The audience rewarded his talent and hard work by casting their votes for his film as the People’s Choice.
The audience on day two was treated to an unlisted local, award-winning film produced by Alan Bigelow. The four-minute film Tower Ladder 1 tells the story of how Pahrump acquired the Tower Ladder 1 firetruck which was in service at the time of both terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
The film was narrated by Pahrump Fire Chief Scott Lewis who was on hand to answer questions.
The event was the most well attended and best received festival to date. Audience members expressed gratitude and amazement at the quality of the films and the stories portrayed.
“The Pahrump community really pulled together to come out and support the visiting filmmakers,” said Mendoza, “and this is the best program yet.”
Kass expressed gratitude to host Pahrump Arts Council for continuing support and to the Pahrump Nugget for donating the event center for the seventh consecutive year.
The judges for the High Desert Shorts International Film Festival are national and local short film producers who chose the winners based on a points-earned system.
All but the People’s Choice winners are selected in advance of the actual festival.
HDSIFF Founder Linda Kass said a voting stone for the People’s Choice is provided to each audience member when they arrive. After each program, a popcorn box labeled with the name of each short film just viewed is made available.
The audience is instructed to drop their voting stone in the popcorn box marked for their favorite short film. Several volunteers help to count and tabulate the votes.
Listed category, film title, film maker, point of origin:
Animation — “Being Bradford Dillman,” Emma Burch, United Kingdom;
Comedy — “Dumbleweed,” Natasha Khrolenko, USA;
Drama — “Wallenda,” V.W. Scheich, USA;
Sci-Fi/Horror — “Grounded,” Kevin Margo, USA;
People’s Choice — “Anaphora,” (Sci-Fi/Horror), Andres Albrecht, Germany.
High Desert Shorts International Fim Festival Director Tony Mendoza added the following categories to this year’s event.
Best Actor — Rob Tepper, “Been Good to Know Yuh;”
Best Cinematography — Sam Fischer, “Feeding Randy;”
Best Film Score — Jurgen Beck, “The Save;”
Best Editing — Kevin Margo, “Grounded.”