Inaugural Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival Looks to Break Hollywood Conventions 

Rebel With a Cause

“Dang ol’ penis monsters, again?!”

“Dang ol’ penis monsters, again?!”

After running out of her medication, a young woman begins to have hallucinations of Third Reich soldiers, Charles Manson and someone wearing a creepy rabbit mask inside her apartment building. With the help of an Irish Catholic priest who learns of a Transylvanian curse during WWII that allows vampire Nazis to summon a goddess to help them win the war, the volatile woman realizes her freakish visions may be real after all.

Such is the extremely bizarre plot of Evil Easter 3: The Final Easter, one of 29 experimental and low-budget feature films and music videos that will be available exclusively online for the first-ever Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival. The online festival is curated by San Antonio video artist/music video director Laura Grace Robles and U.K.-based underground filmmaker Fabrizio Federico.

From April 1-7, visitors to the festival's website will be able to screen what Robles refers to as "unhealthy films, junk films, anti-art art films, counterfeit films, acid films, propaganda media and punk cinema." The Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival is something Robles said she wanted to create to support avant-garde filmmakers worldwide who are not given the chance to screen their projects in the regular film festival circuit. Over 100 films and music videos were submitted this year for consideration from all over the U.S. and from countries like Germany, Scotland, Canada and Brazil.

"We are out to destroy Hollywood in a way," said Robles, who will also be screening the seventh film of her "fake mockumentary" series, Nigga Booty Nights. "It's kind of like we're going against the norm. We're interested in films that test the limits and boundaries of the filmmaking standard."

It's "institutionalized cinema" that Robles and Federico are rebelling against. This includes what she considers trivial steps taken to complete the typical filmmaking process like scriptwriting, obtaining official permits and worrying about copyright laws.

"We're interested in films that are totally against the institution," Robles says. "It doesn't matter where you get your footage if you make it your own. We're blending film and art together that way it becomes more of a hybrid approach to filmmaking as opposed to something that keeps your imagination controlled the whole time. With spontaneous filmmaking, a different kind of magic happens."

click to enlarge A STILL FROM TREY LANE’S INFINITY GIRLS
  • A still from Trey Lane’s Infinity Girls

Montreal-based guerrilla filmmaker Jean Bernard hopes he has captured a little of that magic in his new film X-Drama, which will screen as part of the festival. Bernard is the founder of the Montreal Guerrilla Film Festival.

"There is an unfiltered quality that all guerrilla films have," said Bernard. "They don't have to go through things like test audiences and producers with their own agendas. There are some guerrilla films I've seen with some very interesting ideas I think Hollywood wouldn't be able to do. They're just too out there."

Dark Prism, a 2015 absurdist satire/horror movie by New York City-based filmmaker Dylan Greenberg, might be one of those films. It features penis monsters.

"I definitely do not have a conventional style of filmmaking," said Greenberg. "I don't use scripts and I let people involved improvise and contribute ideas. My films have a sort of what-the-fuck quality to them, which I suppose is cool."

Filmmaker Trey Lane from lower Alabama submitted his first feature Infinity Girls to the festival and was accepted. He describes his film as a "sci-fi-puzzle-box-mind-fuck."

"I think a festival like [Straight Jacket] focuses on the process of making films without the driving impetus of making something commercial," said Lane. "It's more about creating the art than creating a product."

Although Lane admits he does have a great appreciation for the superhero movies coming out of Hollywood today, the fact they are taking over mainstream media will mean fans of cinema are going to want something on the other end of the spectrum.

"I think there will be a hunger for films that are a lot freer," Lane added. "I think in mass there has been a reaction against Hollywood movies. [Guerrilla films] are absolutely more interesting to me than a thousand people working on something that cost half a billion dollars."

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