Rural Route Film Festival 2006
Yippee-Ki-Yea, film fans! Rural Route pulls off another boot stompin’ good festival! Limitless free PBR and surprise giveaway classic country vinyl (Dolly, Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty, et al) kept crowds of outlaws from getting’ ornery and clappin’ loud for each successive quality film. Donations from Empress Media (gobs of recycled mini-DV tapes) and Tent and Trails (spiffy day hiking packs) were handed off to representatives for our winning films.
Asparagus, gardens, and all things green were the theme of this year’s big show at Anthology Film Archives. “Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary)” opened our Saturday in Michi-grandiose fashion. The head of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board and Mrs. Asparagus 1987 took the stage following the screening alongside filmmakers Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare to answer questions and accept the award of Best Documentary for RRFF 2006. After viewing a gorgeous 16mm print of our ‘retro pick’, “Green Streets”, all were treated to a one-of-a-kind discussion between filmmaker Maria de Luca and Green Guerillas founder Donald Loggins, talking up the history of NYC gardens and the dynamic history of our city through the 1980s.
Double features were a new hit at this year’s fest, as were rural women…. “The Beauty of the Hunt” brought us Teresa Davidson (assistant director of “Dressed to Kill: Women who Hunt”) up from Austin, TX, and Amy Nicholson (director of “Muskrat Lovely”) from around the block here in Manhattan. There might’ve been a bit of squirmin’, but the crowd still sat still to watch Texas women shoot their guns and Maryland girls compete in a beauty contest alongside a muskrat skinning competition. Sunday’s “Experimental Road Trip” brought together two cutting edge films from the first and third person. Bill Brown (“The Other Side”) told his story upfront from the Southwestern borders while Brigid McCaffrey and Danielle Lombardi let their unconventional subjects do the talking – until afterwards of course when Brigid talked to us after screening the beautiful 16mm print of “Lay Down Tracks”.
Our closing night consisted of appearances by two of the masters of rural documentary and fiction – David Sutherland (“Country Boys”) and Jay Craven (“Disappearances”). Sutherland made his way down from Massachusetts to screen an episode from his Television Critics Association Award-nominated series, and Craven brought the family down from Vermont to put up a 35mm print of his new Kris Kristofferson vehicle.
Stars from our gem-filled shorts programs came from far and wide to be a part of this year’s festival. Canadian Dan Sokolowski made the trip from Kemptville, Ontario with a 16mm print of “Land of the Pines” in hand, and Paul Rickard (a native of the Omuskego Cree tribe) joined us from Montreal. Others made the trek from northern and southern California, Iowa, and Ohio. This year’s shorts were so solid all the way through that the new touring program will be full length without a dud in the bunch. And, that includes films from this year’s “Horror Program,” which scared the pants off everybody so bad that we had to walk half the audience home Saturday night.
It was all a good time and well worth all the work everyone put in. We praise our sponsors for allowing us to do what we do. A big, big, big thank you goes out to: The Iowa Film Office, New York State Council on the Arts, Pabst Blue Ribbon, The National Development Council, Empress Media, The Canadian Consulate, Experimental Television Center, Tent and Trails, and Film Video Arts. We’d also like to tip our hats to Doc Holliday’s for supplying us with a quiet spot amongst their rowdy honky tonk good time setting for our festival party.
Best Narrative – Allison Cook’s “Junior”
Best Documentary – Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly’s “Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary)”
Best Experimental – Cindy Stillwell’s “High Plains Winter”
Click here for more great pics
2006 RURAL ROUTE FILM FESTIVAL
Friday, July 28– Sunday, July 30
Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary)
Dressed to Kill – Women Who Hunt
Homemade Hillbilly Jam
Lay Down Tracks
Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea
The Other Side
Hey Dad, the Ice is Melting!
Cowboys ‘n Aliens
The Horror… The Horror…
Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary) NEW YORK PREMIERE
Anne de Mare & Kirsten Kelly, 2006, 75 min., doc
Oceana County, Michigan
Thirty years ago, Oceana County, Michigan proclaimed itself the Asparagus Capital of the Nation! Hailed as “Green Gold,” asparagus was exactly what this poor rural community needed – a spring cash crop at the end of a long cold winter. But in a twist of fate, the U.S War on Drugs ushers in a free trade policy that bolsters a rival Peruvian asparagus industry, and threatens to take it all away from these Michiganders. Virtually overnight, Oceana’s asparagus farmers find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a turbulent global economy. They decide to pull up their bootstraps and jump head-on into the fray. While ‘Mrs. Asparagus’ advocates at home in Oceana’s National Asparagus Festival, the farmers take their fight from Senate Trade Hearings to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, from high-powered marketing think-tanks to the Peruvian Andes. This is the story of one rural American community scrambling to keep its proud identity and source of survival against impossible odds. Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary) journeys to the heart of the Asparagus Capital of The Nation to discover why one little vegetable matters so much.
A discussion with filmmakers de Mare & Kelly will follow the screening. Michigan asparagus farmers and “Mrs. Asparagus” will also be onhand for the screening.
The feature presentation will be preceded by Intro. to “Making the Connections in Iowa’s Food System.”
Intro. to Making the Connections in Iowa’s Food System
Kent Newman, 2003, 3 min., doc.
Enjoy this ‘preview’ of sorts for a longer, quality educational film from Newman’s Full Spectrum Productions line-up of documentaries about important subjects in Iowa. The full length piece was made for attendees of the 2003 and 2004 National Food Policy Conference held at Drake University in Des Moines in efforts to raise awareness of the multiple benefits of local food systems to the economy, environment, and society by portraying positive examples in Iowa communities. Full Spectrum Productions specializes in producing education/advocacy productions, and is based in Des Moines. Newman also plays multiple roles in a variety of musical groups.
Country Boys, Part 2
David Sutherland, 2005, 120 min., doc.
Floyd County, Eastern Kentucky
Nominated for “Outstanding Achievement in News and Information” by the Television Critics Association!
Through over a total of six hours of television (premiering on PBS Frontline last winter), Country Boys traverses the emotional terrain of Appalachian teens Cody Perkins and Chris Johnson, struggling to overcome the dysfunction and poverty of their youth and in so doing come to a place of meaning and direction. For Cody, that sense of belonging is found through his heavy metal Christian band, his faith in God and his relationship with his girlfriend Jessica. Chris, however, struggles to find similar comfort. Torn between devotion to his family and commitment to education, he searches, often in vain, to find a path where he can meet his familial responsibilities without losing his sense of self.
Independent documentary filmmaker David Sutherland is also the writer, director, producer and editor of 1998’s critically acclaimed The Farmer’s Wife. His filmmaking technique could best be described as cinematic portraiture – a style that requires a great deal of intimacy between filmmaker and subject. www.davidsutherland.com
A discussion with David Sutherland will follow the screening.
Disappearances (35mm Print!) NEW YORK PREMIERE
Jay Craven, 2006, 100 min., nar.
Northeast Vermont, New Hampshire
Disappearances completes Jay Craven’s trilogy of films based on stories by Vermont author, Howard Frank Mosher. A spellbinding tale of high-stakes whiskey-smuggling, a family’s mysterious past, and a young boy’s rite of passage, Disappearances stars the legendary Kris Kristofferson as Quebec Bill Bonhomme, Gary Farmer (Dead Man, Adaptation) as a professional whiskey runner, Academy Award-nominee Genevieve Bujold as magical realist sage, and newcomer Charlie McDermott as a boy on his first whiskey running adventure across the Canadian border. Incredible production design was headed up by Carl Sprague (Royal Tennenbaums), costume designer Jill Kliber (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and cinematographer Wolfgang Held (Children of the Underground).
Jay Craven has been dedicated to rural Vermont since 1975 when he founded Catamount Arts, which began as a four-night-a-week traveling 16mm film series of foreign, classic, and independent movies to small towns. Catamount grew to become Northern New England’s largest independent performing arts presenter and arts education organization. In 1991, Craven went on to establish Kingdom County Productions with Producing Director partner, Bess O’Brien, where they devoted themselves full-time to the dream of making feature films. Their products include Where the Rivers Flow North (Rip Torn, Tantoo Cardinal and Michael J. Fox), A Stranger in the Kingdom (Ernie Hudson, David Lansbury and Martin Sheen), and now Disappearances. KCP has also produced Bess O’Brien’s award-winning documentaries exploring issues of domestic violence, and in 1997, created Fledgling Films, an educational division that conducts workshops and produces films written, acted, and directed by VT teens. www.kingdomcounty.com
A discussion with director Jay Craven will follow the screening
Kristofferson’s new music video “This Old Road” will show before Disappearances. ———>
Dressed to Kill – Women Who Hunt NEW YORK PREMIERE
Carol Wagner, Teresa Davidson (A.D.) 2006, 60 min., doc.
Mid-Texas hunting ranches (North-South)
Hunting: an age-old rite of passage for American men takes an interesting turn when the so-called gentler sex enters the picture. Do these women have something to prove? Find out as this documentary opens an absorbing and often startling window into a world of strong-willed and likable characters that make no excuses for their zeal about hunting.
Dressed to Kill chronicles women’s experiences, motivations, and complicated emotions on five hunts across Texas in an unsettling and thought-provoking journey about ways we obtain our food and how that impacts who we are. From professional lobbyists to accomplished mothers, to urban disadvantaged teens on their first hunt, the colorful hunters share with us their spirit of independence, respect for nature and primal fulfillment.
Screens with ”Muskrat Lovely”. A discussion with filmmakers from both films will follow the The Beauty of the Hunt double-feature screening.
Green Streets(16mm Print!)
Maria De Luca
1989, 87 min., DOC.
All 5 Boroughs, NYC
Long before Park and Rec. created the Greenstreets program in 1996, Maria De
Luca discovered a group of active New Yorkers putting aside their differences and doing their part to transfer wasteland into thriving gardens. Her film chronicles the growth of the community gardening movement in New York City through the 1970s and 1980s, and features unique footage of long-gone and still-present gardens of the era. Notable plots include the Liz Christy Community Garden at Houston and Bowery (formerly the Bowery Garden), and the now bulldozed St. Vincent¹s Triangle, across the street from St. Vincent¹s Hospital at 7th Avenue and Greenwich. But DeLuca¹s film is more than a glance back in time. Citing the effects of green spaces on property values, and the subsequent price-out of gardeners from their neighborhoods, the documentary points to an irony in gentrification as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.
A discussion with director Maria De Luca and Donald Loggins (a founding member of the Liz Christy Community Garden) will follow the screening.
The feature presentation will be preceded by Ross Guidici’s SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS.
South Central Farmers
Ross Guidici, 2005, 7 min., doc.
South Central L.A.
Since 1992, the 14 acres of property located at 41st and Alameda Streets in famed ‘urban’ South Central Los Angeles have been used as a community garden or farm. 350 low-income families farm the land, feed their families and stay off of welfare. The farm also serves as a safe community for their children to grow up in this dangerous section of the city. Now, a wealthy land developer has acquired this property from the City of Los Angeles and is threatening to kick the farmers out so he can build a warehouse on their spot. This is the story of their passion and struggle to survive despite the odds they face.
Homemade Hillbilly Jam
Rick Minnich, 2005, 79 min.
Ozark Mountains, MO
Everyone’s got a notion about hillbillies: hicks from the sticks, Beverly Hillbillies, rednecks in beat up old pickups, illiterate in-breeds. But what about neobillies – the offspring of the original pioneers who homesteaded the Ozark Mountains 150 years ago?
Homemade Hillbilly Jam follows three such families of modern-day hillbillies living in the Ozark Mountains of Southwestern Missouri, not far from the Arkansas border. Leading the pack is 33-year-old singer/songwriter Mark Bilyeu from the hillbilly band Big Smith (www.bigsmithband.com), who have been shaking up the music scene in Mid-America with energetic, self-ironic tales of life along the creek with their expansive hillbilly clan. All well-educated, modern-day hippies reared on gospel music, Mark and his cousins from Big Smith are refreshingly anachronistic in today’s frenzied world, and a vivid reminder of the hell-raising antics of their bootlegging ancestors. While their sharp tongues and leftist sympathies are an eyesore in this staunchly conservative, Baptist region, Big Smith’s firm commitment to preserving their family’s musical heritage has earned them accolades from fans of all persuasions. www.rickfilms.de
The feature presentation will be preceded by LaShae Brooks’ “The Spirit Within Us”.
The Spirit Within Us NEW YORK PREMIERE
LaShae Brooks, 2005, exp., 5 min. (produced by In Progress)
Nett Lake Village, Boise Forte Reservation, Minnesota
12-year-old LaShae Brooks created this video poem as part of a ten-day summer workshop that supports young women developing their skills as media artists and leaders within their communities. In Progress provides opportunities for young people to develop their skills as storytellers, artists and leaders through the use of digital media. Each year, this small MN-based non-profit partners with urban, rural, and tribal communities to provide quality mentorships that contirbute to building the public voice of those least heard in our nation, serving more than 1,000 youth each year.
Lay Down Tracks (16mm Print!)
Brigid McCaffrey & Danielle Lombardi, 2006, 60min., exp. doc.
Coastal ME (Sri Lanka, Morocco), NJ and PN truckstops, New Orleans, Cincinnati, “pantanal” Bolivia, Catskill Mountains NY
Lay Down Tracks is a non-sync, 16mm, experimental documentary about five traveling American workers. We enter into the intimate surroundings of a carny, female trucker, railroad executive, chimney sweep/surfer, and a nun/riverboat pilot, learning from voiceover and environmental portraits about their jobs, their daily lives, and the places that they move through. The chosen vocations of our subjects highlight romantic notions of freedom and independence in American culture while reflecting a cross-section of economic needs and personal challenges. As each subject comes from a different background and region, their various styles of narration begin to inform and distinguish each other. Despite their various backgrounds, our subjects share the desire to set out against convention and find strength and stability within constantly shifting surroundings.
Lay Down Tracks has screened earlier this year at the NY Underground Film Festival and the PDX Film Festival in Oregon.
Screens with “The Other Side” as part of EXPERIMENTAL ROAD TRIP double-feature. A discussion with filmmaker Brigid McCaffrey will follow the screening.
Amy Nicholson, 2005, 57 min., doc.
Dorchester County, Maryland
Every skinning competition needs a queen… Every year in the town of Golden Hill, contestants gather for two important competitions in the National Outdoor Show. Local high school girls compete to become “Miss Outdoors,” queen of the show and its representative for the year. On the same stage, the world’s best muskrat skinners compete to see who can skin the fastest.
Muskrat Lovely follows the events leading to the 50th crowning of “Miss Outdoors.” It’s an ironic and tender look at the yearly event of a close-knit community in a remote area of the Chesapeake Bay. A place where men still make their living off the water, and the opportunities for glamour are few.
Screens w/”Dressed to Kill – Women who Hunt” as part of “The Beauty of the Hunt” double-feature. A discussion with filmmakers from both films will follow the double-feature screening.
Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea
Chris Metzler & Jeff Springer
2005, 71 min., doc.
Salton City, CA
As narrated by legendary counterculture filmmaker John Waters, there was time when the Salton Sea, tucked into the southeast corner of California was known as the Riviera of the West-a haven for jetsetters and vacationers. Originally created by accident, it’s now one of the country’s worst ecological disasters: a fetid, stagnant, salty lake, coughing up dead fish and birds by the thousands. Still, a hardy few have hung on there, hoping for help to come along and restore the lake to its former glory. Congressman Sonny Bono himself was once dedicated to saving the lake, until he went skiing one day. Eccentrics abound in this surreal landscape: the naked guy who waves to passing RVs; the man who built his own holy mountain; beer-loving Hungarian Hunky Daddy; the guys who plan to get rich someday when this virtual sewer becomes a Riviera again. Hair-raising and hilarious, part history lesson, part cautionary tale and part portrait of one of the strangest communities you’ve ever seen, this is the American Dream gone as stinky as a dead carp. www.saltonseadoc.com
The Other Side
Bill Brown, 2006, 43 min., 2006
SW U.S./Mexico Border
A 2000-mile journey along the U.S./Mexico border reveals a geography of aspiration and insecurity. While documenting the efforts of migrant activists to establish a network of water stations in the borderlands of the southwestern U.S., Brown considers the border as a landscape, at once physical, historical, and political.
Brown is a filmmaker from the “Paris of the Plains,” Lubbock, Texas. His documentaries are like a metaphysics of objectivity, “where fact materializes for a moment only to dissolve into daydreams, melancholy and goosebumps.” Along with filmmaker Tom Comerford, Brown created the Lo Fi Landscapes tour, traveling across country in 2002 and 2005 with a program of short films concerned with history and place. The Museum of Modern Art hosted a retrospective of Brown’s work in 2003 as part of its MediaScope series. Currently, Brown lives in Detroit.
Screens with “Lay Down Tracks” as part of “Experimental Road Trip” double-feature.
Hey Dad, the Ice is Melting!– Shorts Program
This collection of short films explores relationships between people & the environment, people & animals, and fathers & sons. Black bears play in the local Canadian dump, Native Alaskans fight to preserve their way of life, a Texas dad hits on high school chicks to impress his son… Pine trees grow wild, but they also dominate motel signs.
High Plains Winter NY PREMIERE (earlier this July w/Rooftop Films co-presentation)
Cindy Stillwell, 2006, 10 min., exp.
Ringling, MT, Red Lodge, MT, Hailey, ID
High Plains Winter (the final installment of an experimental outdoors trilogy) is a film about the winter landscape and how it affects the human spirit on the high plains of Montana. The American/Scandinavian sport ski joring, which involves a horse & rider pulling a skier, is the centerpiece of this visual study of winter on the high plains. Alongside the sport imagery are majestic, winter landscapes and signs of domestic life: horses, dogs and people. These elements weave together to explore the nature of human life in this environment, the mythologies and the realities. Stillwell is an RR alum, whose film, A Season on the Move (the 2nd in her Montana trilogy) won Best Experimental honors in RRFF 2004. High Plains Winter has screened earlier this year at Sundance, Rotterdam, Full Frame, PDX, and Edinburgh. www.hybridmediafilms.com
Junior WORLD PREMIERE
Allison Cook, 2006, 17 min., narr.
Toby, a sullen teenager, must descend into the depths of small-town Texas to spend the summer with his dad, Darrell. Pulled from the comfort of his middle-class existence, Toby has to cope with his father, an overbearing carouser who makes his living as a ranch hand, and try to get through this visit with no disasters. When Darrell goes overboard, trying to impress his son at the local rodeo and the visit turns sour, Toby is forced to see his dad clearly, and choose whether to forgive him or not. www.juniorfilm.com
The Farrier WORLD PREMIERE
Douglas McCann, 2005, 8 min., doc.
Langley, British Columbia, Canada
Horses need shoes, but what kind of person puts them on? Dan Krinbill’s father died on his way home from a farrier competition. This spurred young Dan into giving up his job as a taxi driver and following in his dad’s footsteps. He approached his father’s old instructor, Hank McEwan, and begged him for instruction. Dan gradually learned the ancient craft of the farrier from Hank and has never looked back.
The Shins’ “The Past and Pending”
Matt McCormick & Greg Brown, 2003, 6 min., music video
The Dalles, OR, Portland, OR
In this music video for The Shins, a young man and a grand-fatherly figure drive through the country side taking snap-shots of the passing landscapes. Matt McCormick runs the Portland, OR based indie distribution outfit, Peripheral Produce, and is the director of the PDX Film Festival. www.rodeofilmco.com
Excerpt from “The Story of the 1892 Froelich Tractor Part I”
Diane Malcom – Froelich Tractor Foundation, 2005, 4 min., doc.
In 1892, in this tiny village (population still only in Northeast Iowa, John Froelich (1849 -1933) invented the first successful gasoline-powered engine that could be driven backwards and forwards. The word “tractor” wasn’t used in those days, but that’s what it was. Visit www.froelichtractor.com to purchase the entire video.
Bear U.S. PREMIERE
Su Rynard, 2004, 9 min., exp. doc.
Kimmount, Ontario, Canada
Black Bears forage for food in their current natural habitat – the township dump, while an intermittent parade of people, SUVs and minivans toss out garbage. While sometimes humorous, a fragile and disturbing biological relationship is portrayed.
Land of the Pines (16mm print!) U.S. PREMIERE
Dan Sokolowski, 2006, 5 min., exp.
Kemptville, Ontario, Canada
Through photographic evidence, we take a journey through real and imagined images of that quintessential Canadian tree……the Pine. Dan Sokolowski’s unique combinations of painting, photography, and film originally appeared in RRFF 2004 with Lightyear. www.sokcinema.ca
A Weekend In Ohio
Dan Boord & Luis Valdovino, 2005, 3 min., exp.
Columbus, OH, Circleville, OH, Plain City, OH
Ohio is known for many things: Ohio State football, crop festivals, humidity, and small towns. In a weekend in late October the filmmakers visited an Ohio State football game, a chain-saw sculptor, elderly cheerleaders in a parade, a hog-calling contest, the “World’s Largest Pumpkin Pie” and a children’s Halloween costume party. Boord and Valdovino’s film Two or Three Things I Know about Ohio graced last year’s RRFF.
Roberta Grossman, 25 min., 2005, doc.
Arctic Village, Alaska
This excerpt from the feature length documentary, Homeland, focuses on Evon Peter and the Swich’in tribe in Alaska. Homeland tells the stories of four remarkable Native American activist communities who are fighting “new Indian Wars” – each in their own way passionately dedicated to protecting Indian lands against disastrous environmental hazards, preserving their sovereignty and ensuring the cultural survival of their peoples. With the support of their communities, these leaders are actively rejecting the devastating affronts of multi-national energy companies and the current dismantling of 30 years of environmental laws. www.katahdin.org
Polikarp and His Women NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Alexander Khantaev (director) & Vlad Ketkovich (producer), 2006, 6 min., doc.
A short glimpse into the life of Siberian folk artist, Polikarp Sudomoikin, who worked for a collective farm for most of his life, and the many ‘vocal’ peasant women of the village. Situated 300 miles from Baikal Lake, the village, Bichura, is dwelt by traditional old believers, who where forced to Siberia during Katharine the Great and still preserve their traditions.
Cowboys ‘n Aliens – Shorts Program
The Duke, the boots, the C&W line dancers… This Rural Route shorts program supplies you with the traditional Western presence along with the curious gate-crasher. Whether it be with space aliens, mimes, an unknown artist, sacred sites, trailer park sense, or ants, these shorts cross borders into a brave, new Wild West
Ringo NY PREMIERE
Dave Monahan, 2005, 6 min., exp.
The Old West
An experimental musical western starring John Wayne and Roy Rogers. Lawman saves outlaw; lawman loses outlaw; lawman becomes outlaw. Found footage gleaned from over 20 public domain films was edited, composited, and set to Don Robertson’s classic 1964 story-song to spawn this rapid-fire saga of male bonding with a vengeance. Monahan teaches film production at the Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington.
Boot Camp NY PREMIERE
Kristin Windbigler, 2006, 8 min., doc.
What exactly goes on at Jack Rowin’s bootmaking school in rural Manton, California? The folks down at the diner have been wondering that very thing for years. In this slice-of-life documentary short, a former 4-H’er and junior rodeo rider escapes San Francisco’s tech world and returns to the country to learn how to make footwear.
Go Barefoot NY PREMIERE
Matt Meindl, 2005, 8 min., narr.
Toledo, Ohio & Swanton, Ohio
Now grown up and contemplating the exponential possibilities of ants, Myra recalls her childhood fight to save all the six-legged crawlers in her big backyard. The cruelty of life and more importantly, nature’s ability to cope and regenerate are the lessons learned in her crusade to guard the lawn against big brothers with big boots.
Blind WORLD PREMIERE
Jane Gilmor, 2005, 6 min., exp.
Cedar Rapids, Iowan artist Jane Gilmor brings us a short film that is part of a larger performance/installation. A handicap accessible hunting blind (w/filmmaker inside) insinuates itself into highly charged religious sites in rural Portugal–Druid stone circles, 5000 year-old Dolmens and 15th century Catholic convents. “The grotesque hilarity of building a contraption that allows the physically challenged to maim the odd passing duck is only vaguely acknowledged. Everyone and everything in this film seem caught in a viscious cycle of goodwill, bloodlust, vanity and stupidity that seems close to the core of Gilmor’s take on the human condition.” Matt Freedman.
Heart and Mole NY PREMIERE
Katharina Frank, 2004, 4 min., narr. animation
UCLA Film School
The industrious mole leads a dreary boring life. But one day, he meets Miss Hedgehog, and digs thousands of mole hills in the shape of a giant heart on his meadow. Aliens discover the heart from above instead, and decide to pay a visit…
Farming for the Future
Matthew Kraus, 2005, 15 min., doc.
In the rolling foothills of Southeast Ohio exists a movement of small-scale farmers who cultivate without chemicals or major mechanical input. For these visionary men and women of the earth, pesticides are an unnecessary hazard, while one’s own sweat and toil proves more efficient than fossil-fueled machines. Farming for the Future escapes from the grocery store to tromp through the fields with a diverse group of forward-thinking yeomen, illuminating the subtler and oft-forgotten aspects of the vital commodity we call food.
The Silver Jews’ “I’m Getting Back into Getting Back into You”
Alan Webber & Anthony Matt, 2006, 3 min., music video
Lynbrook, NY & New York, NY
A toy cowboy writes postcards to his lost love in the suburbs. Can he win her back, or is he just being played with? www.dragcity.com
Erin Hudson & Ben Udu, 2005, 12 min., doc.
Faerie Ring Campground and RV Park, N. California
Unhitched is a portrait of a community that has transformed travel trailers into permanent homes. Tucked away in a redwood grove in Northern California, Faerie Ring Campground and RV Park serves as one of the only options for low income housing in the area. Through the residents’ experiences, this film illustrates the value of having a place to call home while expanding our notions of community. Erin Hudson’s film Rotation was part of RR 2005. http://www.stanford.edu/~ehudson/filminfo.htm
Kevin B Lee, 2006, 8 min., doc.
The filmmaker visits a Sikh temple in Amritsar, India, to investigate a Langar Seva, a religious service in which 100,000 people will be served free food. His attempts to get at the truth of the event are thwarted by the dubious answers of some interviewees as well as the disruptiveness of his own presence. Gradually he learns that in order to discover the truth behind Langar Seva (“to serve everyone”), he must discover and accept his own special role in the service, not as an outside observer but as an active participant. www.alsolikelife.com
The Geographic Center of North America WORLD PREMIERE
Adrian Goycoolea, 2004, 9 min., exp. doc.
The Geographical Center of North America is an experimental documentary that examines the home movie footage of Chester Swavel (1909-1982) and its significance as a cultural artifact. Adrian Goycoolea, a former Anthology Film Archives programmer and publicist, currently lives in Iowa City.
Mimes of the Prairie
John Hansen, 2005, 5 min., narr.
Des Moines, IA
A Ken Burns style mockumentary telling the struggle of a proud people overcoming adversity. Winner for “Best City – Des Moines and Best Film” in the 2005 48-hour Film Project.
Fast Talkers NY PREMIERE
Ariana Reguzzoni, 2005, 19 min., doc.
Meridian, Idaho and Bakersfield, California
Farm auctioneers sell off the last pieces of old farms with a rolling, hypnotic cadence. Their melody is replacing the sounds of tractors and cows in the American west, but it’s also paving the way for a new generation of farmers. Meet one family in Idaho and the auctioneers who help them close a door on their past.
The Horror… The Horror… Shorts Program
What’s so scary about the outdoors? Isn’t the city where all the bad and dangerous stuff lurks? The forest is full of plants, wildlife, all the natural things that we’ve trampled over only to seek out in camping trips and weekend getaways. Somehow though, when the sun goes down and it’s quiet—too quiet—the stage is set for a good, ‘ol horror flick out in the boonies that makes you jump from your seat and keep a watch behind you all the way home. Dating back to folktales like Little Red Riding Hood, entering the woods has been an excursion into unknown, dangerous terrain. Friday the 13th’s Camp Crystal Lake is the only place where Jason could rip open tents and hack up summer counselors, and Leatherface wouldn’t have been half as effective if his trapped-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/Texas Chainsaw Massacred victims could’ve run into a nearby convenience store.
The rural horror program is filled with the macabre and bizarre. We have Canadian zombies, laser-wielding farmers fighting the supernatural, a Northwestern hatchet wielding angel of death, a flannel wearing homophobic teen creature with claws, Native Canadian ghost spirits, and evil puppet kidnappers who replace human heads with animals. Beware…!
The Field – World Premiere
Bruce Johnson Jr., 2006, 2 min., exp.
If you haven’t seen the rural classic Children of the Corn in awhile, this film will quickly scare you into remembrances of He Who Walks Behind the Rows…
Farmer Brown – NY Premiere
Charlie Cline, 2005, 4 min., narr.
Braxton County, West Virginia
Enjoy this document of life on the farm – a timeless scene that could be occurring yesterday, 100 years ago, or 100 years from now. Follow this pillar of the American work ethic as he feeds the chickens, chops the wood, digs up the garden, and deals with incursions from other realms into his idyllic world. This film was produced for the ‘Film Kitchen’ screening series (sponsored by the Pittsburgh Citypaper).
Doomed – U.S. Premiere
Lowell Dean, 2006, 15 min., narr.
Craven, Saskatchewan, Canada
A young couple in love, friends spending time together on a quiet afternoon, small-town kids looking for a good time. And zombies. Lots of flesh-eating zombies (done up with a superb low budget fx job by self-taught make-up artist Emersen Ziffle). Small town Saskatchewan is doomed when a zombie outbreak threatens the prairies. Lowell Dean’s primary interest is in fantasy films. He also has an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with zombies. www.lolofilm.com
Daylight Hole – NY Premiere
Matt Palmer, 2005, 6 min., narr.
The Lake District, England, United Kingdom
A soundman descends into an isolated cave. Only when it may be too late does he begin to suspect that he might not be alone.
Whispers – NY Premiere
Brian Markowski (producer), Chris Wiese & Jill Clasen (directors), 2006, 9 min., narr.
A traveling satellite dish salesman is stranded near the wrong farm.
Jeff Erbach, 2005, 11 min., narr.
Sanford, Manitoba, Canada
In this perfectly unsettling horror-comedy, small town homophobia manifests itself in a hick hobgoblin, clad in flannel and trucker cap.
28 Minutes in the Day of the Living Dead – World Premiere
Rene Hernandez, 2005, 5 min., narr.
It’s the end of the world and all Alice and Brian want to do is have sex, but not without a condom! Brian is too afraid to go outdoors so it’s up to Alice to race to the car, dodge flesh eating zombies and retrieve a condom from the car for some good old safe sex. Will she make it back in time? Or is 28 minutes too long of a waiting period?
Federation X’s “The Hatchetman”
Alan Webber, 2005, 5 min., music video
Whatcom County, Washington
Bill Badgley (Federation X lead singer and video co-producer) is being stalked by a Northwestern mythological being – a tall, creepy man who carries around an old doctor’s bag, and has scars covering his entire face. Webber has two rules for his music video productions: they must be narrative, and they must be rural. “The Hatchet Man” was shot after a rare Northwestern blizzard in January of 2005. www.federationx.us
The Winter Chill – NY Premiere
Paul Rickard, 2005, 25 min., narr.
Moose Factory, Ontario, Canada
Complete with snowmobile action, The Winter Chill follows a young Cree man into the bush where he is reluctantly tending his father’s trapline only to run headlong into the legendary Cree creature, Pakaaskokan. At first terrified, he is shocked to learn that there was far more in his father’s stories than he ever dared realize. Paul Rickard (an Omuskego Cree originally from Moose Factory in Northern Ontario) is the president of Achimist Film, an Aboriginal production company specializing in films and videos about the Native experience.
The Headed Horseman – NY Premiere
Gene Hamilton & David Thrasher, 2005, 15 min., narr.
Des Moines, IA
Rural Route alums Hamilton and Thrasher (who, in ’04, brought us The Visitor, about an alien who presents a farmer with a magic screwdriver to help fix his tractor) have outdone themselves this time – puppets who brainwash people to kidnap people so they can perform experimental surgery involving the swapping of animal body parts?! That’s right, folks – it doesn’t get any better than this…
The Visitor – NY Premiere
Joshua Provost, 2005, 3 min., narr.
Pioneer Living History Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Northern Arizona, 1880′s – A frontier family is visited by an other-worldly visitor. Have no fear, this interplanetary stranger is here to do chores…!
NOTE: Not to be confused with Gene Hamilton and David Thrasher’s “The Visitor” from Rural Route 2004 (see above film). Please, no lawsuits, guys!
The Honorable Mentions
Ali Selim, 2005, 1 hr, 50 min., narr.
Starring Alan Cumming, Ned Beatty and John Heard,” Sweet Land flashes back, from a present-day setting and conflict over what will become of the family farm, to the farm’s beginning, focusing on recent Norwegian immigrant Olaf and his bride-to-be, Inge, a German refugee by way of Norway whose nationality, lack of papers and strong coffee cause great difficulties in a rigid community. www.sweetlandmovie.com
James Vculek, 2005, 115 min., narr.
Vic’s days are filled with selling sci-fi collectibles, harassing his fellow antique dealers, and trying to communicate with extraterrestrials. The latter activity is singularly unsuccessful until the day he meets a mysterious young woman, Cassie. Vic becomes convinced that extraterrestrials are keenly interested in Cassie, and he sets out to prove it, with shocking results. www.partizanpictures.com
Villisca: Living with a Mystery
Kelly Rundle, 2005, 116 min., doc.
When an entire family is wiped out by an axe murderer on a June evening in 1912, a small Iowa town spirals into chaos and division. ‘Villisca’ tells the epic true story of the Villisca, Iowa Children’s Day murders. Following just two months after the sinking of the Titanic, the still-unsolved crime built and ruined political careers, created a lasting community split over the guilt or innocence of a local man–a state Senator–and produced dozens of litigations including three of America’s most sensational trials. The documentary also explores the possibility that the Villisca crime, and similar axe murders Illinois; Colorado; and Kansas, may have been the work of one of America’s first serial killers. www.villiscamovie.com
Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story
Amelia Kirby and Nick Szuberla, 2006, 60 min., doc.
Wise County, Virginia
Filmmakers Kirby and Szuberla were DJs for the Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program in Whiteburg, KY when they received hundreds of disturbing letters from inmates transferred into nearby Wallens Ridge State Prison, the newest prison built to prop up the region’s sagging coal economy. The film offers an in-depth look at the U.S. prison industry and the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority offenders to the top of a mountain faraway from their families and friends. www.appalshop.org