Goodbye Cruel World
Directed and written by Vito Rocco Company Partizan
Vito Rocco's heartbreaking and darkly comic film tells the story of a young Norfolk outcast (Lewis Hunt) whose only friend, an elderly man named Mr. Carter, dies in the opening scenes. Using technical knowledge, the boy rigs the man's electric wheelchair so that it can be driven by remote control, and the two hit the senior social scene-which features what may be the only motor-scooter tango caught on film-before saying goodbye and watching the sun set on the dreary, deserted beach. Rocco, who spent summers by the English seaside as a kid and has worked in British television but not extensively in commercials, wrote the film as a tribute to his late grandfather. "I went on holiday once to the beach, and I injured my back, and I was with my friends and family," he says. "They were all having fun and playing ball, and I wanted to join in, so I saw an old guy on one of these scooters, and managed to get one and mobilize myself around the place. I just thought that it was a nice way to bring someone back to life. It's an affectionate film; he's a well-meaning boy." Though it may seem an odd way to pay tribute when the boy rigs Mr. Carter's scooter with a doll's cooing voice box, Rocco says that it's hard not to see the humor in tragedy. "We've all had serious things in our lives, and I think it's another way of dealing with it, and putting it in a positive way," he says. Winning the hearts of our judging panel, the film took our grand prize.
Young Artie Feldman
Directed and written by Erik Moe Company: Freelance
Erik Moe, a former creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day L.A., created the character of Artie Feldman by basing him on a friend working as an agent in Hollywood. "This film is my conception of his childhood-my imagining of his life at 15," says Moe. "He's just a natural at this, so I projected what he would do if he were a kid stuck in the valley with no show business contacts. In the valley, he would have to turn to fast food." Young Artie Feldman shows the struggle of the young agent to place a client named Mike Rogers in a night-shift position at the Golden Bowl burger joint, already keen to some of the sleazy tactics that have given Hollywood agents a bad name. But a lot of the strength of the film is the witty dialogue set into an unlikely juxtaposition of circumstance, as well as a spot-on performance by its young star, Aaron Himelstein. "He was the only one that truly got it," Moe says of the casting process. "He's so precocious, and I threw him a couple of lines and a couple of notes, but he understood what the character was, this over the top agent. I'd like to say that I did some great directing, but I really didn't." Now building a reel to start a career directing spots and features, Moe financed the film himself, shooting in his own house, in the summer of 2003. With lines like "I hear great things are happening over at the Olive Garden," it's no mystery why the judges awarded Young Artie Feldman with the award for best screenplay.
Directed by Fredrik Bond Written by Fredrik Bond and Simon Frank
Fredrik Bond's drama, set in the Spanish countryside, follows a day in the life of a man with an abusive boss and an angry wife, and considers what can happen when a bad mood passes from person to person. After getting yelled at by his boss, the protagonist is berated by his wife before his car runs out of gas on the side of the road. At the gas station, he lashes out at the attendant, and witnesses a man's death by heart attack, which changes his mood and perspective. "I wanted to explore how much pressure a character can take before he explodes, and what the consequences are once he unleashes his inner demon," says Bond. "We created a character that had taken a lot of beatings over the years and has developed a very passive-aggressive role in his life. We meet him at the life-changing point." Shooting on the outskirts of Barcelona ("I wanted a place where arguing felt like a natural part of the culture," says the Swede), the film features strong performances and assured writing. Notable to the production community, Bond cast his own producer, David Zander, in the part of the protagonist's boss, who the audience only hears through the phone. "I needed a really scary voice, and it didn't take me very long before I realized who I should ask," Bond says. "Mr. Zander was really easy to direct, I just asked him to imagine one of the times he and Rocky had a fight. He nailed it in the first take."
The Invention of the Flipper
Directed by Johan Kramer Company: Chelsea Pictures/KesselsKramer
Johan Kramer's whimsical demonstration of film-aging techniques plays a mind-trick on the audience. Under the guise of a tale created from footage shot in 1954, the grainy and blanched black-and-white images piece together the story of Dutch hero Flip Smidt, the boy inventor and creator of the modern-day flipper. Though the opening scenes, with pleasantly nostalgic voiceover narration by a jovial British man, sound at first to be tongue-in-cheek, the history contains a number of details and convincingly vintage vignettes. The Smidt family stands in 1950s regalia in front of an antique car, Flip shows off behind a house, and bearded Dutchmen assemble flippers on a conveyor belt. In some opening photographs, animated arrows point to accent the narration, lending the notion that much footage wasn't available. In fact, the footage was shot on 8mm cameras, which Kramer collects, in the Dutch beach town of Ijmuiden. Editor Sir Jonathan Griffith expertly cut these scenes together with aerial maps, aged photos and shots of flipper-clad beach-goers that lends convincingly to the charade. "The edit style was not a planned effect, but something that came out of the story and just happened," Kramer says. "The editor worked on it all by himself. When I came in, it was exactly the way it is now. I love it and didn't change anything." By the end of the film it comes as a shock when a title reading "Compiled from footage from 1954" ticks through the years to 2004, conceding that the flipper was actually invented in 1721 by Benjamin Franklin.