Tuesday night I had the pleasure of joining my good friend Corey Jones at Open Screen Night, held monthly at The Oriental Theater in Denver. It's a neat project started a year and some change ago by Corey and a few friends. The last Tuesday of each month a bunch of local filmmakers and film fans gather at the Oriental to screen a few hours of short films and videos ranging from college thesis projects, to sketch comedy, to well, some strange stuff. There's no official submission process. You just show up early enough with a DVD and it gets played. A lottery system determines the order of projects played, and at the end of the night judges select three finalists and the audience then selects the winning project from that group of finalists.
It's a truly valuable event for the Denver film scene because it offers a safe environment for filmmakers to experiment and gauge audience reaction, etc outside the pretense of standard festivals. I was amazed at the talent on display. We watched some truly dynamic filmmaking Tuesday night. We also watched some work from filmmakers still looking to find their voice, but definitely on the way there. We also watched some truly bizarre stuff. I mean...I still question some of the things I saw. But that's the beauty of this event. It all belongs and it all fits.
I love supporting local endeavors like this. These are the types of events where you witness creativity and passion in their rawest forms. It can be painful at times. I've sat through some truly terrible sets by local bands and cringed as local comedians struggled to even find one joke that lands. But I've also seen some of those situations turn into growing experiences where that person or group comes back with a vengeance and succeeds at what they love. That's the more important part. Even while watching someone bomb, I have a deep appreciation for the determination and desire it takes for them to be doing that activity. Sometimes the unpolished is the most beautiful.
That said, the two films below I have to share with you are more towards the polished end. But both were screened last night which says a lot to me about the talent hiding in the corners of Denver. While watching both of these films I just kept thinking over and over to myself "Holy shit. People can DO this." They are mesmerizing and I'm so thankful I was able to witness them screened in such an intimate, informal environment.
The second took home the second place prize Tuesday night. This was Stranger Studios' entry in the 2011 Denver 48 Hour Film Project, called "Touch."
BONUS: This film by Clifton Archuleta, called "Broken Cycle", took home first prize.
DOUBLE BONUS: This was Corey Jones' favorite of the night, directed by Mark Belden, entitled "Elizabeth?":