Through the Looking Glass

Self-Discovery, Realization, and Documentaries Broaden the Scope of the Lens at the 2013 Hells Half-Mile Film & Music Festival

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Movie Reviews,   From Issue 776   By: Robert E Martin

12th September, 2013     0

Since it's inception back in 2006, The Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival has diligently strived to bring a divergent array of cutting edge independent films & music to venues throughout Bay City for a four-day artistic excursion that stands out from the predictable fodder of comic book epics that populate the mainstream Cineplexes that are located next to your local shopping mall.  In the process the Festival has expanded its reputation for showcasing innovative filmmaking while drawing thousands of people to venues throughout the Great Lakes Bay region.
 
This year the 8th Annual 2013 HHM Film Festival will run from September 26-29 and screen 17 feature length films and 3 short film programs, with a total of 22 short films.  According to festival founder & director Alan LaFave, the common thread of continuity that ties a majority of the featured films together this year is that of self-discovery and realization. “A lot of the films this year are about people trying to find themselves,” he explains; “and I believe that is a topic that we all can relate to.  Most of these films delve into characters attempting to figure out who they are or what they should be doing in life.”
 
Indeed, the topical material of the narrative films range from a disillusioned fashion model returning home to Bay City seeking to transcend the lifestyle that accompanies her occupation (Broken Side of Time) to a young worker on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign looking to win the election and also lose her virginity on a cross-country campaign that juxtaposes large movements with personal desires (Farah Goes Bang) to a sobering documentary about a mobile medical unit providing attention to those in desperate need of medical treatment that shines a chilling light on the politics & economics of health care in the USA (Remote Area Medical).
 
But LaFave is equally excited about the short programs presented at the 2013 HHM Film Festival. “People will definitely want to catch the short programs, as we'll have local and student shorts screened at the State Theatre on Saturday morning; but our Shorts One Program will include some great filmmaking, including Camino: the Journey to Santiago with music from Bay City's own Andy Reed; and what's sure to be a fan favorite, “F**k the Parents, produced by HHM festival advisor Alexandra Barreto ('Method', Walter Don't Dance, The Dungeon Master) and stars Pamela Adlon (Californication), comedian Rob Delaney and the writer/director of the film Ethan Kuperberg, who will be at the screenings to talk about working on the film.”
 
Other guests attending the festival will consist of Geoff Marslett, Lauren Modery and actress Trieste Kelly Dunn of Showtime's 'Banshee' & 'Loves her Gone', James Duff & Julia Morrison of Hank & Asha, Meera Menon & Laura Goode of 'Farah Goes Bang', and Mark Covino of 'A Band Called Death'. Additionally, Amy Grantham & Matt Creed of Lily will in attendance, as well as Keir Politz & David Jaconvini of 'Detonator', along with several other writers, directors, and actors of other films featured at the 2013 HHM festival.
 
When asked what films he is most excited about this year, LaFave laughs and says, “Just like a parent, it's hard to choose a favorite film. What I can say is that we're more than excited about our entire program this year. Music lovers of all kinds will be pleased with docs like A Band Called Death, Larrikin Lad and Boogie Stomp and dark comedy lovers will enjoy G.B.F., Rabbit Stories, White Reindeer and Route 30 Too! And for the avant garde and dramatic film lovers there's Broken Side of Time, Lily, Things I Don't Understand, Detonator and so many more.
 
“But of course, the BIG hits are going to our opening film, Hank & Asha and closing film, Farah Goes Bang. Both will only be screened once so people need to make sure they plan to make it to these screenings. The filmmakers will be at both screenings and that's always a bonus for our audience.”
 
When asked about the evolution of the HHM Festival and whether patrons can expect any changes for 2013, LaFave says that “The biggest change is that we're trying to show more films than ever before, but that results in fewer films being screened twice. That means people really need to plan out their schedules for the weekend and make sure they get to films they really want to see. As we grow as a festival, we need to try new things and see what works best. Once we reach a critical mass with audience growth we can start adding in more days to the festival, or more venues.”
 
“The other change this year is all the additional music events, which people can check out on our website at hhmfest.comIn addition to the Friday night local showcase and Saturday night music event, we've added music to the opening night After Party at Old City Hall. Plus we've added free music Friday through Sunday afternoons at Populace Café, Electric Kitsch and American Kitchen. The more things happening around town will keep our guests entertained between films. Plus we will have two free panel discussions on Friday at 4 PM and Saturday at 1 PM.”
 
When asked about the most rewarding feedback LaFave has received about the HHM Festival, he references the annual growth and buzz surrounding the event. “The fact that the audience grows every year and we get more and more sponsors and more and more people wanting to help organize and grow the event tells me we're doing something that people in the community really like.”
 
For more information on screening times and special events and ticket purchase for the 2013 Hell's Half Mile Film Festival go to their website at www.hhmfest.comAll access passes that include admission to all films, music and receptions for all four days are available for only $45.00.
 
And here's a breakdown of what you can expect to see in terms of a few of the stand-out feature films that will be featured at the 2013 HHM Festival:
 
Boogie Stomp - Rediscover the roots of jazz, blues, and rock-in-roll, as two piano masters (Bob Seeley and Bob Baldori) attempt to preserve and to bring back the long lost art of the “boogie-woogie.” Featuring a detailed history of the genre and foot-stomping concert footage, this documentary begins in a Michigan seafood restaurant and travels as far as Russian concert halls to tell the story of a music that just won't quit. Sure to excite aficionados and general music lovers alike!
 
Broken Side of Time -- Dolce, a risqué photography “model,” has grown older and wary of the lifestyle that accompanies her profession. Determined to start over, she heads home (to Bay City, Michigan), revisiting many of her old photographers along the way. Her intensely provocative sexual journey captures a world rarely spoken of, let alone broken wide open. Heavy adult content.  
 
Detonator - Feeling the pressures of adult responsibility found in marriage and parenting, Sully takes the night off to revisit his youth within the local punk scene. Unfortunately, his former band-mates have turned juvenile and angry, leading him on a wildly dangerous night. This intense drama studies the how youthful dreams can easily turn into bitter tomorrows.
 
GBF - Caught in a battle for popularity among three girls at his school, Tanner is accidentally “outed,” making him the coveted G.B.F. (“gay best friend”). This sharp-tongued take on the teen comedy genre, in the tradition of “Mean Girls” and John Hughes, deconstructs the gender role clichés formed in high school and the media. Featuring cameos by Megan Mullally, Natasha Lyonne, Jonathan Silverman and Rebecca Gayheart.
 
Larriien Lad - Meet Warren Fahey, Australia's foremost musicologist and folklorist, responsible for spreading music throughout his native land. From roaming his country with a tape recorder to starting his own record company, Fahey has had only one goal: to keep his nation's music alive. This absorbing documentary follows the “lad's” story from pure passion to earned authority.
 
Lily -- Recovering from her intensive cancer treatments while juggling her relationship with an older man and his children, Lily find herself at odds with what she should do next. An ambitious artist, she attempts to reclaim some of her old life only to be haunted by her estrangement from her father. This psychological portrait of a young woman at a crossroads explores the rigors of life post-cancer.

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