The largest student film festival in the country continues to expand in its eighth year. Now featuring 64 films over three days at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, BestFest America also includes free seminars and workshops geared toward student filmmakers, an opening night world premiere of "Haven" and a closing night awards program.
More than 1,000 high school and college students from across the country submitted entries in nine different categories: animation, comedy, commercials, drama, documentary, experimental, horror/thriller, music video and 48 Hours of Madness. In the annual 48 Hours of Madness competition, student teams are challenged to create a five-minute film interpretation from identical five-page scripts -- in just 48 hours.
The short films range from 30 seconds to 29 minutes in length, with a host of local entries from San Diego City College, Point Loma Nazarene, UCSD, San Diego State University, San Diego City College, Grossmont College, Mesa College, Torrey Pines High, High Tech High, Mount Carmel High, Rancho Bernardo High, Poway High, Patrick Henry High and Scripps Ranch High.
Just a few highlights from this year's films include: "Moglie," a three-minute claymation about a lonely artist who creates the perfect woman; "Bobtec," a comedy about a robot who tries to escape his abusive red-neck owner; and "What if Jesus Were Gay?" a documentary exploring the struggle of gay Catholics to find their faith. In the thriller "Heartless," a thug's heart is removed but that's what he needs to exact his revenge, and "Per Qualche Pesos in Piu" is a spaghetti western spoof about an inept bounty hunter.
The opening night film, "Haven," is a full-length feature by director/writer Frank E. Flowers. On the idyllic shores of the Cayman Islands, Shy (Orlando Bloom) and Andrea (Zoe Saldana) are in love -- a secret her parents can never know. A night of passion leads to the discovery of their secret and a devastating act of vengeance. Meanwhile, a shady American businessman (Bill Paxton) has fled with his daughter to the Islands to avoid federal prosecution, only to get drawn in deeper than he could have imagined. Lives intersect and truths are revealed, causing a chain reaction of violence that will test if love can survive the fall of paradise. Flowers' film is based on his own experiences growing up on the islands. Flowers will be in attendance for the screening.
Two free seminars are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Joe Godfrey shares the secrets of award-winning sound from music, ADR, foley, sound design and more. Godfrey's musical arrangements are featured in Christopher Guest's 1996 film "Waiting for Guffman," and along with Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, Godfrey won a 2004 Grammy Award for the song "A Mighty Wind." He teaches at the Art Institute of California --San Diego and at UCSD.
On Sunday director Dana Brown and Executive Producer/Producer Rich Wilson, the makers of "Step Into Liquid" and "Dust to Glory," share their insights into independent feature filmmaking -- from idea to financing, pre-production, production, post and distribution.
At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, awards will be handed out to the films' creators along with a special screening of "best of the fest" and "audience choice" films in college and high school categories.
BestFest was created in 1999 by the Visual Arts Foundation. The 20-year-old nonprofit organization focuses solely on supporting the next generation of filmmakers. In an effort to aid in the development of young filmmakers, entrants receive judging comments and scores whether or not their films make it into the festival.
Tickets are available at the MOCA box office at noon each day of the festival for $6 per screening or $35 for a BestPass to the entire festival.
PROGRAM: 8th Annual BestFest America
Organization: Visual Arts Foundation
Tickets: $6; Best Pass $35
Dates: July 28-30
Show times: Screenings at 12:30, 2:30, 4 and 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday, with a closing night awards program Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Location: Sherwood Auditorium, Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla
More information: (858) 449-7085, www.bestfestamerica.org