Held in the second half of August, Aug 16 to 19, Oceanside International Film Festival officially kicks off a season of film festivals, which are conducted annually and continue through the Fall each year in San Diego County (until now nearly all film festivals in San Diego took place between September – November every year). Founded and once again sponsored by Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation, OIFF’s parent entity (www.ocaf.info ), the festival showcases narrative features, documentaries, shorts, animation, and student works from filmmakers who have not yet signed distribution agreements and look for recognition among wider audiences. OIFF-2012 opens Thursday, August 16, 5 pm with a red carpet arrival film industries stars and reception of filmmakers at Star Theatre, 402 North Coast Hwy, Oceanside. The evening will continue at Star with refreshments & appetizers, and screening of Guest Feature Film “Callous” - winner of previous OIFF – a narrative film about the evils of mental and physical abuse towards children within their own families.
Among this year’s Official Selections are films by independent filmmakers from Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe, and America. Nearly every continent is represented this year. The festival will publicly screen a great number of unique and independent films – 50 films to be exact (!!) - filling up as many as 25 total hours of screening time during its course from August 16 to 19 (and that is not including red-carpet opening evening, educational workshops, and awards gala). The films below are examples of some of the 50 (!!) unique films that will be shown at OIFF this year. During the festival’s four-day course, viewers can choose from a variety of screening blocks to their tastes: Comedy, Fantasy, Emotional And Sentimental Appeal, Light Dramas, Military, Comedy, Documentaries, Serious Dramas, Gay and Lesbian, Suspense, Student-Made Children's Theme (Family Friendly) films, and Student-Made Narrative Shorts (Mature PG Content).
Complete schedule of OIFF-2012’s four-day programming lineup of 50 films from around the world and tickets ($10 to $50 range, reservations for all events highly recommended) please go to: www.ocaf.info
The Lucky One (in Narrative Shorts category) is a film by a Southern California filmmaker Bala Balakrishnan. The Lucky One is a compelling story that talks about a little boy whose life takes us on a short journey when, ignored by his father, he wanders off. It is a cautionary tale with a universal message re-told in a language understandable to children. In April 2012, The Lucky One has been chosen as one of the Best of the Fest movies by the Riverside International Film Festival. It became the winner of Seven Summits Award by Mountain Film Awards Festival, and was honored with the 2012 Award of Merit in the short film competition category, an avant-garde worldwide competition.
The Forest Path (in Narrative Shorts category) is a children-oriented fairy-tale fantasy film directed and produced by John and Shannon Jennissen of Canadian citizenship, both residents of the United Kingdom. In a nightmare forest haunted by witches a young girl embarks on a quest. With strange visions to guide her, she must endure three trials as she journeys towards the mythical heart of the forest. If she can unlock the key to her own survival the secrets of the witches will be revealed.
Home Animations By A Student (an animation short in Student Films category) is a compilation of home-made animations from a student filmmaker from Oceanside, CA, who goes under his “artist name” of Indy PD, and he is just now entering middle school. It combines stop-motion animation with computer-processed (100% self-drawn) drawings. The animated drawings vary from short special effects to complete animated scenes. All works were done by Indy PD at a young age between 8 and 10 years old. His passion, in his own words, is animation.
Kevin's Critters: Hold on to Your Horses (a short documentary in Student Films category) is hosted by a 9 year old Kevin Andersen, a middle school student from Bonsall, CA, who takes viewers to Reins in Fallbrook, CA and to Julian, CA to learn about horses. This is an episode in the series of “Kevin's Critters”, his video production that teaches education and conservation. In this episode, the audience will learn fun facts about horses and how they help people in interviews with caretakers. Kevin is the recipient of the Best Student Film award at the previous Oceanside Intl Film Festival.
Letting Go (a narrative short in Student Films category) is a silent film by Cameron MacKenzie, a 14 year old 8th-grader from Fargo, ND, who wrote, directed, and acted in (and wrote some music for it). The audience will be curious how the filmmaker portraits a variety of profound emotions through this silent (!!) film. This is a journey through the stages of grief for a close relative, who passed away, - grief that carried the young girl into the beginnings of becoming a young woman.
Tiny Pupil (a narrative short in Student Films category) is a film directed by Komaki Teng, a student at Waseda University, Japan, and produced by award-winning Edmund Yeo, both from Tokyo, Japan. This is a very funny family-friendly film. Viewers will certainly have a good laugh watching this short. 5-year-old Tong doesn't understand why her kindergarten teacher insists that 1 plus 1 equals 2. She also doesn't understand why people don't have fixed direction like houses. This is a story from a 5-year-old child's perspective, and the world through her eyes is different from adults.
GAY AND LESBIAN THEME
The Miracles On Honey Bee Hill (in Narrative Shorts category) was written and directed by Bob Pondillo. According to Bob, this short, which features mostly children actors, has created a bit of a stir in the Middle Tennessee area where it was produced. A young female pines for true love, but when she finds her “special someone” her zealously religious church family becomes enraged over it, and attempts to drive her from the congregation. It literally takes a visit from God for the pious group to accept and understand the power of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and love. Bob Pondillo, Ph.D., is a Professor of Mass Media History and American Culture at Middle Tennessee State University, where he also teaches screenwriting classes. “I see the movie as a "PG-13"-type offering, suitable for all ages 13 up (with parental/guardian knowledge and perhaps discussion before and after.) I can't tell (..) if you've seen the film, but once you do I'm almost certain you'll wonder what the fuss was about. In terms of a film festival audience, I sense adults 18 and over would have no trouble with it. There is no coarse language, no blood, gore or violence, no overt sex or sexuality in it - it's an innocent story, drained of sex, to highlight the bigger issues of love, commitment, tolerance, fairness and marriage equality.” The cast consisted of 1 adult, 30 children, 2 babies, and 1 dog.
Nobody's Child (in Narrative Shorts category) was written, directed, and produced by a Los Angeles based filmmaker Dennis Nollette, who also played a supporting role in the production. Annie and Paul have been best friends for years. Annie discovers she may have breast cancer and wants Paul, who is gay, to raise her 8 year old son if anything happens to her, rather than the boy's father. Paul, young and in love with a fast gay lifestyle, is not so sure that's such a great idea. This picture is based on a short story of the same name by David Groff, published in 1988 in an anthology of gay short stories. The filmmaker happened to be looking for subject matter to make a short film when he learned (in real life) that a friend of his was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Long Road (in Narrative Shorts category) is film by a first time screen-writer, director and producer Lori Ravensborg from Alberta, Canada. This is a film covering themes of death, loss, separation, estrangement, growing up and letting go. A hardworking Alberta farmer had the toughest week of his life - his wife of 41 years has just tragically passed away. The adult children reassemble at their longtime family home bringing not only their grief of the loss but the emotional baggage of their varying family relationship history. The idea for writing the script came from something the filmmaker’s mother said randomly one day. She said, "If I ever have a stroke or become incapacitated, don't keep me around. I don't want people stuck taking care of me. I've had a good life, let me move on." The film hopes to prompt family conversations about the decisions we often don’t engage in making and how sometimes, we wish we would have.
FAITH AND RELIGION THEME
A Good Death (in Full Length Documentaries category) is an inspirational film by Paul Van Ness from Beverly, MA, that will be shown during the course of Oceanside International Film Festival Aug 16 to 19, 2012. When Howie Rich, a Massachusetts pastor and high school teacher, received a brain cancer diagnosis a couple years ago, he and his family chose to confront the disease in an unconventional way. Inspired by a passage in a book he'd read a week earlier, Howie chose to approach the disease with hope instead of despair, and to include the community around him in the journey. During the last 19 months of his life, Howie began to identify death less as a fear-filled, tragic ending and more as “a gift”. In this touching film, the audience will learn about the importance of hope confirmed by both the Scripture and scientific proof – straight from the mouth of a brain doctor. It will also help people to better understand a prayer, an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with God.
We all yearn for a good life for ourselves and those we love. We define a good life as deep connection with other people, fulfilling use of our time and gifts, a sense of purpose, hope for the future, and the ability to enjoy the pleasures offered by each day. We may tend to think of death as the opposite of a good life, its enemy. But when confronted with a terminal illness that represents unmistakable proof of our mortality, one family discovered that the same definitions apply to a good death: loving connections, use of our gifts with purpose and hope, the ability to live fully in the days that remain.
Over the last 19 months of his life, a Massachusetts pastor and high school teacher, Howie Rich, created a valuable model for his family and friends. Through inspiration and improvisation in the most stressful time of his life, he created a blueprint for A Good Death.
One day in the spring of 2009, Howie Rich woke up with a headache, which was surprising because, as his wife, Renie, notes, “He wasn’t a headache kind of guy.” By the next morning, he was in the hospital emergency room, headed toward an MRI, where a brain hemorrhage was discovered. The suburban hospital immediately transferred Howie to Beth Israel in Boston, where MRIs revealed Stage IV Glioblastoma., requiring surgery and courses of radiation and chemotherapy. The prognosis: patients with this kind of brain cancer typically survive for 12-18 months.
Two weeks before that first headache, Howie, a voracious reader, had been perusing a book by Joan Chittister when he came across a passage that struck a chord: “Hope and despair are not opposites. They are cut from the very same cloth, made from the very same material, shaped from the very same circumstances. Most of all, every life finds itself forced to choose one from the other, one day at a time, one circumstance after another. The only difference between the two is that despair shapes an attitude of mind; hope creates a quality of soul. Despair colors the way we look at things, makes us suspicious of the future, makes us negative about the present. Hope, on the other hand, takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it and, and expects that, whatever its twists and turns, it will ultimately yield its good to those who live it well.”
“When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair, torn and hurting. Despair cements us in the present; hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see. Despair says that there is no place to go but here. Hope says that God is waiting for us someplace else, Begin again.” (Joan Chittister, The Psalms: Meditations for Every Day of the Year, page 44, Crossroad Publishing, New York, NY)
Inspired by that quote, Howie began to formulate a personal response to his diagnosis that was suffused with hope. He determined to be transparent about his illness with close friends and parishioners; he accepted and encouraged members of the community to support him and his family in the gritty details of chemo, MRIs, and experimental procedures; once he was able, he went back to preaching each Sunday at his church; and he shared the spiritual insights of his journey with hundreds of friends and acquaintances through weekly emails.
This powerful documentary film chronicles Howie Rich’s journey with brain cancer over the last 19 months of his life. Comprised of a series of interviews conducted with the principal players in the story, the film captures the shock, anguish, and devastation of the initial diagnosis, the long, sometimes difficult but creative and caring path of the medical care administered by Dr. Eric Wong of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, the crushed hopes, discouraging test results and “bumps in the road” experienced by any cancer patient who does not go into remission, and finally, the ultimate understanding of his cancer journey as being “a gift”, in Howie’s words, an opportunity to strengthen his connections to his family, his closest friends, and the community around him.
The interviews themselves are unrehearsed, candid, and incredibly powerful, ranging through the entire spectrum of emotions. They portray thoughtful individuals struggling intellectually to find meaning as personal philosophy and faith come into conflict with the unthinkable. Audiences will enjoy this hopeful and sometimes joyful film, even though the subject is a tragic one. It may be of special interest to those who are trying to find a way to confront disease or loss. Howie’s hope was not shallow one; it was hard-earned and refined in the struggle of his illness. In the end, Howie’s deliberately hopeful outlook represents a blueprint for dealing with the last passage of life, and provides balance and perspective for those of us at any point in the journey.