A turning point for San Antonio film?

Whether the topic is music, film, or any of the arts, really, it’s always easy to put down a small market, especially if you live in close proximity to a big market like Austin. “The music scene sucks.” “Local films suck.” We’ve heard it all before. But the 2011 48 Hour Film Experience showed me that even though our city has its good share of yearly turkeys, it is no longer — I hope — the anemic creature we’ve publicly fretted about in the past. In fact, it may have just taken a huge leap towards the maturation of San Antonio filmmaking.

If you were at Sunset Station’s Depot two weeks ago for the Film Commission’s holiday party, where the 48 Hour winners were announced, you likely felt the excitement. Several people told me this was the best 48-hour experience ever. Though I’ve only seen the last three editions, I believe it. Even the weakest film was more than decent, and it was hard to choose the best. As these are films written and shot in (duh) only 48 hours, there are no shortage of technical problems displayed. But whatever shortcomings existed were compensated for with audacity, enthusiasm, and ingenuity. (My favorite film, Pete Barnstrom’s Zombocalypse 3-D, which didn’t win anything, is the best example of how originality can overcome technical challenges).

Winners included:

Mark Cantu’s Love After took Best Film, followed by Isaac Rodriguez’s Harvest, and Pablo Véliz’s Hypnosis; Best Actress went to Love After’s Jamye Cox, and Best Actor Nicolas Nadeau hailed from Taylor James Johnson’s Come of Age; while Drought of Essentials, directed by Veronica Hernández, won the Audience Award.

And while winning is nice, that’s not what this festival is about. It’s about testing oneself and, concurrently, gradually eradicating the always-the-same-names syndrome (Ya’Ke Smith, Pablo Véliz… you know, the usual suspects). Festivals like these help us identify where the talent pool is and where the currents are moving. This year’s crop shows the momentum for short films in town is great, but you won’t have to wait till next year’s 48 Hour to test your chops. You still have time to send your short to the upcoming fifth semi-annual edition of the Short Shorts Film Festival. Remember: The films must be no longer than 15 minutes in length; no porn, no hate speech (R-rating is the limit); and movies must be labeled in a plastic jewel case. The best part: there is no fee to submit, so send them now to: Short Shorts Film Fest c/o John Lambert, 1421 Brookstone, San Antonio, Texas, 78248, no later than December 31. The festival will take place February 11, 2012, at 13th Floor Studios.

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