Comedy. Short stories. Documentaries. Ski and snowboard previews. All local. All short. These are some of the kinds of films to be featured this week at the Juneau Underground Motion Picture Society Film Festival in the Back Room of the Silverbow.
"There's comedy, some drama, there's personal films, there's poetry, music videos, all kinds of stuff," said Pat Race, 30, one of the organizers of the event. "It's always kind of a grab bag and you never know what to expect. The quality level ranges from pretty amateur first-time filmmakers to professionals who have worked in various industries related to film."
This week's event is the 12th festival since JUMP began in 2002. The events are held twice annually - in July and January. Read more at www.jumpsociety.com.
Each night of the festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday, will feature about 20 films by local filmmakers, each one lasting between three and 10 minutes.
"It's a collective showcase, basically," said Race. "The idea is to get together people that have similar interests so we can all share our short films with a collective audience."
Race, who is a filmmaker himself, said the idea developed when he realized it wasn't practical to bring together friends to watch just one short film.
"You aren't trying to fill up an hour with just your own stuff 'cause that would be difficult," he said.
The society is led by a collaboration of friends that includes Race, Aaron Suring, 30, Sarah Asper-Smith, 28, and Lou Logan, 27.
Gabe Strong, 35, entered "A Chance For Change," in this festival. It's a 10-minute video about people successfully reintegrating into the workforce after serving in the penal system.
"It's basically about these people and how they've been able to turn their life around and change from being drug dealers, drug users, armed robbers and whatever they were in the past," Strong said.
"We interviewed people that have been out of jail, we interviewed some of their employers and we interviewed people at Gastineau Human Services talking about what they do to try to help this along, and then we interviewed some employment agencies."
Strong initially made the piece for GHS, which was hoping to appeal to employers to hire former inmates. He had to pare down the original version to fit the JUMP Society's 10-minute limit requirement, but said he is happy with the final submission.
Jacob Caggiano, 23, submitted "The Cost of War," which features the testimony of veterans returning from Iraq and video images taken by soldiers serving there.
"I'm using it to make a statement," Caggiano said. "The point is to get people thinking about what happens when we choose to go to war."
The film shows some of the heavy costs for those who have no choice in the matter - like the people of Iraq, he said.
He got the idea for the film while watching Iraq veterans testify before Congress, and feeling that it was something more people should know about.
"There's going to be devastating consequences when you send young soldiers just out of high school over to a foreign country they know little about and then put them in a position of responsibility," he said.
One scene shows American soldiers in the back of a truck waving a bottle of water at some Iraqi children.
"They were basically teasing them with the water, saying 'come on, come and get it, come and get it,' and they made the kids run, like, two miles," Caggiano said.
On the lighter side, students from a filmmaking class taught at the Juneau Dance Unlimited Fine Arts Camp this summer submitted "Epic Boulder," an animated short. The film consists of several hundred hand-drawn frames depicting people trying to stop a runaway boulder.
Also on the roster are ski and snowboard movies by local production companies, Bad Larry Productions and World Carve, and a remake of Jack London's "To Build A Fire" by Mircea Brown, depicting a man trying to survive in the wild.
Race said it's easy to make a video these days with the availability and low cost of cameras and software.
"There's nothing holding you back if you have access to a computer and a camera. And there's enough machines around that if you don't have a computer (or camera), you probably know someone that does," Race said.
"It's a great place to share your work and get feedback on it and see what other people in the community are making. Filmmaking is a great way to express yourself," he said.
Teri Tibbett is a writer living in Juneau. She can be reached at www.tibbett.com.
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