The Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival is back and ready for its close-up.
George Stout (at left) is shown with his fellow Monuments Men, a unit created to rescue and preserve works of art stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Their story was told in the 2014 feature film, “The Monuments Men,” and in the recent documentary, “Stout Hearted: George Stout and the Guardians of Art,” being screened Saturday morning and evening at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival. The festival is being held Friday and Saturday at Collins Road Theaters in Marion. (Courtesy of New Mile Media Arts)
The event was halted just two weeks before opening in 2020, and remained dark in 2021. So the films and videos showing Friday and Saturday at Collins Road Theaters, were on the 2020 slate.
One of the festival’s main missions is to give filmmakers the chance to see their work on a big screen, so pivoting the festival to a virtual format just wouldn’t be the same, said festival director Scott Chrisman, 42, of Springville.
As always, each film has an Iowa connection either through location or roots among the actors, directors, producers and/or crew members. This year’s through-line seems to be history, Chrisman noted, as opposed to other years when zombies were in the spotlight.
Que: 2022 Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival
Where: Collins Road Theatres, 1462 Twixt Town Rd., Marion
When: Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2, 2022; 6 to 10:17 p.m. Friday; 9 am to 9 pm Saturday, with lunch and dinner breaks, and the Eddy Awards ceremony at 9:45 pm
Tickets: $9 per session or $25 all-event pass before April 1 when purchased online; $11 per session or $35 all-event pass purchased in-person or days of shows; crifm.org/ticketinfo.html
The shortest of the 36 films are the 1-minute, 27-second trailer for “the ultimate” animal-gone-wild monster movie, “Gnats!” and the 2-minute documentaries “Ag Awareness Day Spotlight,” showing how llamas contribute to the agriculture industry, and “Saturday with a Scientist,” looking at the importance of connecting the public with science.
The longest is “The Seagull,” clocking in at 1 hour, 45 minutes and 31 seconds, in which family and friends gather at a summer estate, but end up having unfulfilled ambitions bubble to the surface. “Sons & Daughters of Thunder,” a professional feature from Fourth Wall Films, looks at the first public debates on the abolition of slavery, held in Cincinnati in 1834. It clocks in at 1 hour, 35 minutes and 54 seconds, and features many Iowa actors and crew members.
Other long-form highlights include:
- “The Collins Story Connecting the Moon to the Earth: Live from the Moon,” focusing on the Collins Radio Co., contributions to Apollo missions 8 through 17;
- “A Dead Dame in Hollywood,” a noir-comedy probing the death of a young actress on the verge of her big break;
- “A Place to Grow,” looking at the evolution of farming in Jefferson County;
- “Two Ways Home,” about the trials of a woman living with bipolar disorder, struggling to care for her grandfather, while trying to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter;
- “Stout Hearted: George Stout and the Guardians of Art,” a professional documentary about Stout’s life and work in art conservation and monuments protection, including his work leading the Monuments Men to recover priceless art stolen by the Nazis.
“It’s been very exciting to go through all these pieces again, and look at the breadth of filmmaking we have available in this state and related to this state,” Chrisman said. “Everybody from the first student in college doing their first couple of short films, all the way up to people who have been doing it for years, turning out some amazing work.
“I think it feeds into the idea we’ve touched on for many years — the Iowa connection. All these things that are just a couple steps away. If you think about a pretty better idea of saving art from the Nazis, the abolition of slavery, racism, things in commercial application and how we’re interacting with technology, as well as the idea of aging.
“You start looking and there’s a lot of pieces connected very closely to Iowa that are just a couple steps out of the spotlight here, but we were right at the forefront of all these things.”
Looking back and forth
Chrisman, who works in marketing and has done script writing and filming on the side, said that these days, he’s more of a “script doctor,” consulting and helping other people with their screen plays.
He’s not worried about the festival’s future in the coming years.
Filmmaking didn’t stop during the pandemic, I noted. Since films can be shot with cellphones these days, lenses tended to turn inward, in the COVID-safe environments created at home.
“A lot of the normal avenues were closed, of course,” he said. “But I did see several interesting things online, especially with people locally — although nationwide and worldwide even — people still feeling the need to create just within their own space. I saw some creative things happen.”
He’s also thrilled to be returning to Collins Road Theatres.
“They’ve been wonderful,” he said. “Since 2004 they’ve been hosting us. They are very much the right partner for this, because they love movies, and they’re all about the filmmaker having a good experience. And you notice that as a customer. Things are just a little bit cleaner, the popcorn is a little bit nicer, the staff’s friendlier, so they really put a premium on how you’re treated. So we’re excited to have them as a partner.”
Comments: (319) 368-8508; email@example.com
Iowa’s Waukon Golf Club is so small that a round of 18 means playing the 9-hole course twice. But the Iowa course created something Augusta and Pebble Beach never could — a friendship that has lasted well beyond 18 holes. “The Foursome,” a short, professional documentary, follows a lively foursome as they play their 50th outing at the Waukon Men’s Invitational. (Wavelength Productions)
Mark Winn of Los Angeles portrays abolitionist Frederick Douglass in “Sons & Daughters of Thunder,” a professional feature from Fourth Wall Films. According to the synopsis, “discussing the abolition of slavery in 1834 was considered radical, even in the North. Organized by firebrand abolitionist Theodore Weld, the nation’s first public debates at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, led to near riot conditions in the city The shocking oratory sparked intense controversy and awakened a young Harriet Beecher (Stowe) to the horrors of slavery.(She) later distilled her Cincinnati experiences into the bestselling novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’ “The film will be shown Saturday morning and evening at the 2022 Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival. (Fourth Wall Films)
“Last Minute till Midnight,” a professional short directed by Adam Orton of Cedar Rapids, tells the weird story of Meg Mahoney, a reporter whose drive to inform the public gets her in a situation where she’s in over her head. The film was shot entirely on green screen. (Flow Media and Bus-Stop Productions)
“Flava,” a 20-minute student long film, tells the story of Raekwon, an actor behind a popular energy drink mascot named Lil Pooky, and is criticized for the messages his performances send to the public. In a knee-jerk attempt to put a message behind his character, he finds that Lil Pooky may be tied into a horrifying conspiracy. (Lost Utopia Films)
“Ink,” a nearly 9-minute student short, looks at transformation in the face of adversity, as a character struggles with dyslexia, feeling isolated from the outside world. (Anna Steinson)