Mar 28, 2017
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Not Just Tomatoes
by Mary B. Barber and Anthony Sheppard
In 1877, Eadweard Muybridge, a crazed Englishman - well, that's what he claimed when he killed his wife's lover and pled insanity, three years earlier - came to Sacramento to shoot Leland Stanford's horses, photos that is. This produced a photo series that could be made to move with a "flip book," for example. A known photographer in San Francisco, Muybridge also liked to photograph nudes descending staircases, and other beauty in motion, work he considered art but is today known for its science - once again that magical balance.
The Golden State's capital is again evincing creativity in moving images, with a small but focused film community. And it includes two industry gems: the Capital Film Arts Alliance (CFAA) and the Sacramento Film and Music Festival. CFAA began in the early 2000s with a group of filmmakers meeting once a month to discuss equipment, best practices, etc., in local restaurants, bars, even a parking garage. Informal networking grew into a formal speaker series, a weekly e-letter (1,000 subscribers), and finally becoming an official nonprofit.
Hosted by the Art Institute of Sacramento every third Tuesday, the series features presentations like a demo of a RED camera or a visit from the director of the California Film Commission. CFAA is the go-to source (see capitalfilmarts.com) for pros looking to find out about the best crews, equipment rentals, casting, and Central Valley and Sierras filming info. It has also teamed up with other art groups to sponsor competitions for filmmakers, with plans for increasing projects in the future.
One of the best events in the Sacramento art community is the long-running Sacramento Film & Music Festival (sacfilm.com), now in it's 11th year and running from July 23 to August 1 this year. Founded by Nathan Schemel in 2000, SF&MF is a classic, submission-based, juried festival, taking all genres from all locations. Lately, it has added specific programs for both content and filmmaker categories.
"Our primary mission is to showcase the work of talented filmmakers, "said festival co-director Tony Sheppard. "But we're also very much a community arts event and we work closely with our partners such as the Capital Film Arts Alliance to promote local interest and involvement at all levels."
In keeping with this spirit, all of the festival directors have been active participants in Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's innovative Arts Initiative, charged with promoting community arts programs. A good example of this is the "Student Days" program, a student festival within the larger event, which is in its fifth year of sponsorship by Sony Creative Software (who have agreed to three more years).
Two more film programs encourage community engagement. Sac Music Seen matches local filmmakers to local musicians to make original music videos, with almost 150 completed projects to date. And the 10x10 Filmmaker Challenge is SF&MF's answer to the guerilla filmmaking craze sweeping the globe, with teams allowed ten days for a ten minute movie. The 10x10 even has prize categories such as "The most creative use of a prop" and "The least polish but most content," which allows experienced filmmakers to shine without excluding first-timers who might be intimidated. Sacramento's version has shown to have more participants, and produce higher-quality films than other quick-turnaround contests.
This year's fest opens, tongue-in-cheek, with "Official
Rejection," a film about the difficulties of getting accepted into festivals. Other films include "Harvest," a stunning family drama starring Robert Loggia and Arye Gross. In addition to a dozen features, there are 65 shorts: 18 animated, 9 foreign, and over 20 student, including a few surprisingly sophisticated ones from high schoolers.
The festival also partners with other long standing community events, such as the Sacramento International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. This year, one evening includes a fascinating pair of docs about dangers to seniors in the LGBT community, who find themselves going back into the closet to avoid discrimination at assisted living facilities. The other is a film about transgender musicians.
Ongoing relationships with multiple partners, such as Sony's funding of Student Days, allow for further interesting projects. Several years of support from Rubio's, for example, has supplied the festival with healthy, fresh food - the great tomatoes that Sacramento is rightly famous for. In turn, the festival sponsors other local arts programs such as the fantastic Jammies Youth Music Competition.
So things are cooking in Sac film and related arts. "Crazy" Muybridge would be proud.
Mary B. Barber and Anthony Sheppard work for the festival:
Posted on Aug 13, 2010 - 03:07 AM