LACMA hosted its eleventh annual Young Directors Night on Saturday, showcasing seven short films from student filmmakers around Los Angeles. Presented by Muse, the event's mission statement is to "not only be a film exhibition, but also to create an educational experience highlighting the intricacies of the filmmaking process." Following the screening, LACMA curator Elvis Mitchell, Film Independent's Josh Welsh and Maggie Mackay led a fun and succinct panel.
The filmmakers hailed from Kuwait, South Korea and Sierra Leone, and repped some of the top LA film schools, including USC, UCLA and CalArts. The shorts varied in genre, duration and budget; they ranged from a subtitled drama shot in a Mexican fishing town, to a lavish period piece set in steampunk London about a cholera epidemic, to a love story between two California sushi rolls.
The young directors were articulate: Namina Forna, whose zombie horror short "The Last Rites" portrays a young woman's terrifying decision to kill her infected and soon-to-be-zombified mother, discussed the difficulty of incorporating a beginning, middle and end into a short film. "When I approached this, I remember somebody once said that a five-minute film is like a moment in time… and I thought, 'What is the core of this? It's about a girl having to let go of her mother who is turning into a monster.'" (Mitchell also jokingly congratulated Forna on showing "that black people can star in horror films.")
Richard Parkin, who directed the Mexican subtitled film "Contra El Mar," talked about the importance of tight narrative screenwriting, and that he had to resist "falling victim to [the tendancy of] a new piece of story information means a new scene."
The exhibition doubled as a competition, with the host panel and audience voting for the best in show. Parkin's deserving "Contra El Mar" took home the prize, and he also received an all-access pass to Film Independent's upcoming L.A. Film Festival 2012.
Full list of shorts and directors:
"A Sushi Story" (Mike Blaney)
"Contra El Mar/Against The Sea" (Richard Parkin)
"In Captivity" (Michael Koerbel)
"Snow" (Isaac Ergas)
"The Last Rites" (Namina Forna)
"Thembi's Diary" (Jisoo Kim)
"To Rest In Peace" (Fawaz Al-Matrouk)