Though we saw dozens of short films at the Indie Street Film Festival last summer, there were a few extra special ones that went above and beyond in terms of visual and narrative prowess. Filmmaker Doug Roland’s official selection “Jada” was definitely one of those films that hit it out of the park for us. The 16-min short tells the spirited and heartfelt story of Jada (Kaycie Bowens), a young girl living alone and scraping by on Venice Beach, selling handcrafted wood people and exploring when, where and what she wants. With an upbeat attitude and glowing personality, it’s hard to see the obvious negativity of her situation. And yeah, well, a solo 7-yr old girl fending for herself - there’s definitely a bigger story hiding here. Yet, despite the initial hidden drama, this little girl beams off the screen, successfully carrying a story that should probably be far beyond her means. This doesn’t feel like the story of a victim. It feels more like one of a survivor. One you want to root for and take care of, but one you also don’t want to tie down.Roland directs Kaycie Bowens well, placing her silhouetted profile against one of the most gorgeous sunsets/sunrises I’ve ever seen in a film, burning an incredible image into the minds of the audience. This is the image of a powerful spirit, one that can’t be bound. When child services and a mysterious man get involved in Jada's life, we finally get to know a little more about her background. The hidden drama is exposed. When we discover he wants to give her a different kind of chance at life, it’s then that everything becomes complete in a special kind of way. “Jada” seems to present a story that it never intended to conclude in a straight-forward manner. And that is what's perfect about it. Because in the end, I think we know everything will be okay. And if it won’t be okay? Well, that’s the power of a great film: one that leaves you wondering and remembering all the same. As they say in the film, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Everyone gets to their intended destination eventually. Discover Jada’s story and watch Roland’s touching film today!
“Movies don't always go as planned but no matter what, people talk." While that's the synopsis for this week’s featured short film, it sorta seems relevant to life in general, no? While not everything always goes according to plan, sometimes, just sometimes, you can count on people to be themselves...whether that’s a good thing or bad thing. When filmmaker/cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell returns to her hometown neighborhood to make a film about the locals as they hang out and shoot the shit, she finds the normal conversation and hustle and bustle that attracted her there to make the film in the first place….well…gone. However, though the usual activity seems to be in hibernation, the genius of these neighborhood personalities peeks out from underneath the covers and gives us a pleasantly delightful and quirky little film in a genre all its own. An official selection at this year’s Indie Street Film Festival, you better believe “Small Talk” walks the walk and talks the talk in only the biggest ways. “Small Talk” first gained attention on the festival circuit this year when it was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance Film Festival’s Digital Bolex Fearless Filmmaking Showcase Awards. If there was ever a short doc to adore and root for, it would be this one. And why? Because it’s simple, unpretentious and fun - with a personality that is anything but small. The bumps along the way only add more character for the audience to eat up. The voice, the layout, pretty much everything stumbles and manages to land gracefully scene by scene. Also a talented artist, Campbell’s unique attitude makes this little ol’ film a lot more enjoyable knowing that a good-hearted independent, female creator was on the other side of the camera. In addition to all of this, it also helped me to realize that the families reminded me a lot of my own flesh and blood, so it’s relatable in a way - and whether that’s a positive or negative indication of my own personal life, well, that's a discussion for another day. Randomness and spontaneity meet in the middle and create a filmic spark that you should totally watch. “Small Talk” is available now on Vimeo - see what all the Indie Street Film Festival talk was about and watch now!