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Festival celebrates films that are short and shorter

The red carpets were rolled out once again Thursday night as filmmakers and movie buffs gathered at the local Laemmle movie theatre for the fourth annual Claremont 5 Second Film Festival, presented by the Claremont Community College (CCC), a local charitable organization with a fictional institutional name.  

Hundreds filled the Laemmle to view 20 short films created by filmmakers from the local community, across the country and around the world.

“If you are 3 seconds into the film and its not working for you...you only have to wait 2 more seconds,” quipped Vince Turner, CCC chancellor and festival co-founder. On a more serious note he added, “there is so much diversity. You have people from LA and Orange County coming together to enjoy great films. These are among the best short films in the world.”

Not all the films live up to the namesake, however. Ranging from 5 seconds to 15 minutes, the festival’s selections include a variety of shorts, both real-life and animated, to captivate eager movie buffs.

“[Short film] is a great art form that doesn’t get enough exposure,” said Charles Doskow, who joked he had lured his wife Ann to the event by telling her “she was going to Cannes.” They enjoy watching shorts because they can see a variety of films in one viewing.

Beyond the films themselves, the Claremont movie festival has made its way onto the local festival circuit map because of its unique style, and its ability to capture the art form through the “human connection.” At least that is what keeps 4-time festivalgoer Nahesi Crawford returning to Claremont.

“The people make or break an event. I love the people here, that’s why I make the drive,” said Mr. Crawford, who travels out to the festival each year from his home in Hollywood. “I love the town, and I love the ambiance.”

Hollywood actor Steven Anderson, Mr. Crawford’s acting coach and the festival’s director of submissions, claims that the camaraderie is actually what changed his mind about returning to the festival after the inaugural event.

“Everything that could be bad was,” admitted Mr. Anderson of that first year. “The sound was terrible, the films were shown using a DVD projector...you could barely see, but still, everyone there had such an amazing time that the quality didn’t matter. It was just a community coming together to have a party. I went up to Vince after and told him that I wanted to do it again.”

Following the first year of the fest, Mr. Anderson became the festival’s director of submissions. The process of selecting the films to be shown each year is not nearly as short as the festival’s title might suggest. Mr. Anderson spends nearly 4 months finding the right fits. It took him 3 months alone to get in contact with Icelandic filmmaker Runar Runarsson, the director of the festival’s 2012 Best Drama, The Last Farm.

“It’s about quality over quantity,” Mr. Anderson said, noting the challenges in creating what he calls a premium short. “Eighty percent are not worth watching. The cream always rises, but the cream has to rise through a field of mud first.”

While many of the selections are internationally crafted, several highlight local talent both behind and in front of the camera including The Landlord by Curtiss Bradford and Misunderstood by Mr. Turner himself.

“It was challenging. There was a lot of stunt work involved, a lot of it was life-threatening,” Mr. Turner noted of his film, which involved editing together a series of close-ups of himself being slapped.  

To Mr. Turner, however, the art form is worth the pain and hard work.

“This is the future,” he said simply about film and digital media.

In addition to paving a way for what CCC members see as “the wave of the future” and a good excuse to throw a party, the sense of community spirit sets Claremont’s event apart from the hundreds of film fests in cities across the country and the globe.

Mr. Anderson explained, “It’s a small festival in a small town celebrating short film not only for its own sake, but for the opportunity to join together.”

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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