Passing Judgment on Element79

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Dennis Ryan over at Element79 was kind (or foolish) enough to invite me out to Chicago to be one of the judges for the agency's annual short film festival, in which agency employees from all departments get together and make shorts in hopes of (agency-wide) fame and (gift-certificate) fortune. So I -- along with Creativity's Teressa Iezzi, Brenda Sexton of the Illinois Film Office and the Chicago Tribune's Rick Kogan -- sat through 41 movies last Friday afternoon.

I'm happy to report that I didn't roll my eyes even once -- quite a bit of a surprise for me. I figured that with ad creatives of all stripes set free to make things without marketer control, there would be a lot of Art with a capital A (or, more precisely, what the writer/director/producer considered to be Art with a capital A. Happily for all involved, all of the films -- even the ones striving to reach Art with a capital A -- were entertaining. Perhaps because of the length restrictions -- and to curry favor with the audience -- the bulk of the entries were comedic. But there were a handful of serious films.

One of those, Scott Smith's "Waiting for God," we awarded runner up for best picture. It's a five-minute look at a store-front minister in Chicago. The overall winner was Dave Straus' "Futagoyaro," an animated short that impressed the judges when we thought it was a weird mash-up, but doubly impressed us when we found out Straus had actually animated it himself. Since the theme this year was "Curiosity," the judges handed out a most curious award to John Noble's "Interpretation," which ... ahh, just watch it.

You can see the three winners picked by the judges here. And I hear you can find "Trailer," the hilarious audience favorite, if you look hard enough on the web.