Film Fest Fever: A Look Back at the Bucks County Film Festival

Hello all, I have a short post for today but be sure to catch us next week when we discuss still more commentary from The Social Network (I know, I know, it’s never going to get old, so get used to it!), I will finally post my first documentary review, and we’ll hopefully have a review of this weekend’s release of Red. So, yeah, exciting stuff to come. In the meantime, I want to discuss my first film fest experience last Sunday night. Yes, it took me a whole week to impart these comments to you.

So last week, Ryan and I went to the tenth annual Bucks County Film Fest at the historic County Theater in Doylestown, PA. The fest celebrates the short films of not only “seasoned” filmmakers who are out of school, but also those still in college and even high school. It was an eclectic mix of talent, and on the whole, a lot of fun. I have only great things to say about the high school students who showed off their tremendous skills at such a young age. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know how to work a camera, let alone write, direct, and produce my own film short at that age (I probably still couldn’t). The topics from the high school category winners included two boys fighting for their lives to retrieve a baseball from someone’s backyard (very a la The Sandlot meets Halo, but extremely entertaining nonetheless), and a playground outcast makes a friend and has a spectacular day about town…with a ballon (Again, very The Red Ballon, but these kids have the rest of their lives to develop their personal creativity. It helps when you are influenced by classic films of childhood).

The college level film shorts were nothing short (haha) of inspired. A majority of them were animated films by The University of the Arts students in Philadelphia. My favorite film of the evening, titled The Kid and the Fish, by Jessica Barnett, came from this group.

The most well-received film of the evening, and the winner of the Audience Favorite award, was by Tisch School student Alex Smolowe titled, Borderland. The film depicts two soldiers struggling to survive in the wilderness of northern Italy during WWII. I almost picked this as my favorite of the evening-the production values were superb, as was the story. And as most people know, I love me a good WWII drama.

The films representing those “emerging” filmmakers (filmmakers no longer in school), were equally impressive. The one worth mentioning, perhaps, because it is part of a broader non-profit awareness effort, is Marsha Trainer’s Ana’s Playground. The film depicts a group of children playing soccer in the streets of a nameless war-torn country, where they are soon in a fight for their lives to retrieve their missing soccer ball. Yup, it goes over a fence. Can’t these kids hold on to their toys? And why is there always a mean scary man with a gun on the other side of the fence? Alas, The Sandlot trope continues. All joking aside, Ana’s Playground is a powerful short film about the hardships of children growing up in war zones around the world, and the decisions they must make everyday. If not for the upsetting subject matter, I’m sure this film would have picked up the Audience prize. Readers can view the film’s website here, for more information on the film, and the important cause it supports. You can also view the film’s trailer here.

All in all, a fantastic evening out! I encourage everyone to support their local filmmakers by attending regional film festivals-they’re cheap, fun, and thought-provoking!

Click here for a full list of winners.


3 thoughts on “Film Fest Fever: A Look Back at the Bucks County Film Festival

  1. Hello and thank you for the post and kind words. I was a producer on Ana’s Playground, which was written and directed by Eric D. Howell. However, I grew up in Bucks County (Gardenville to be exact) and my mother was a huge supporter of the County Theater. I’m so glad you guys came to the fest!

    It has been really gratifying for us to have people share info about the film and its message. People can check out organizations like Right to Play, WarChild and Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers to see what they can do to help remove children from violence and violent situations.

    Also, stay tuned. We are eligible for an Oscar nomination and are waiting and hoping and crossing our fingers and toes.

    Thanks for the mention,

    Marsha Trainer

    • Thanks for reading and making such a wonderful film! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the Oscars as well-how exciting! We wish “Ana’s Playground” all the best.

      -Jill, Filmhash

  2. Pingback: Reading Film Fest Short Film Showcase « Filmhash

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