Silver Screen: Shawnee Shorts: Celebrating Midwest Movies
The first Shawnee Shorts Film Festival lights up the silver screen Saturday, April 15 from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the historic Liberty Theater in downtown Murphysboro, where independent filmmakers from the Midwest will compete for awards.
Organizers Mike Ricci, Cody Grammer, and Dan Balchen will confer the judges’ award, while the audience will select the fan favorite. Best of the fest will come from a mix of judges’ and audience votes.
“We’ve been entering these festivals with our movies, and saw such great talent from the Midwest, and we decided to create a showcase for independent filmmakers [from the region],” Ricci tells Nightlife.
While the festival advertised it would accept submissions from the Midwest, Ricci says that submissions came in from all over the world. In the end, Shawnee Shorts received thirty-one entries, twenty-one of which they accepted into the festival.
There’s no theme or genre connections between the films. The festival will showcase narratives, documentaries, animations, and music videos ranging from two minutes, thirteen seconds to the thirty-minute time limit. Filmmakers use everything from slapstick comedy to extreme seriousness, from lighthearted character studies to one film about the trials and tribulations of incarceration.
Ricci says the quality of the submissions was incredibly high. One film, he says, featured amazingly professional writing and acting— as good as any studio-sponsored television pilot, though it was made by college students. One film was completely animated by hand, with no computer enhancement, by a fourteen-year-old girl.
If anything unites the festival submissions, other than their quality, Ricci says it’s that technology made this level of filmmaking possible by democratizing the art form. There was no way anyone who wasn’t affiliated with a professional studio could have produced films this good ten or fifteen years ago— the necessary tools were out of reach for the average person. Now, however, Ricci says, “A person with some modicum of talent who wants to express themself can make an extremely riveting film for next to nothing.”
That, Ricci says, is what viewers will see at the Shawnee Shorts Film Festival, which is free and open the public. For more information, search for the event on Facebook.
who: Shawnee Shorts
what: Shawnee Shorts Film Festival
where: Liberty Theater
when: Saturday, April 15