Three Days, 33 Films: Rogers Short Film Festival wants place on the map

Three Days, 33 Films: Rogers Short Film Festival wants place on the map
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

“Short films typically get the ‘short’ end of the stick at traditional film festivals, pardon my pun,” says Elizabeth McCurdy, co-director with StudioChunky’s Barry Cobb of the Rogers Short Film Festival. Now in its second year — and growing like a well-fed toddler — the festival will feature 33 films shown over the March 4-6 weekend at Arkansas Public Theatre at the Victory in Rogers.

Brooke Bierhaus funded her documentary, “The Connected Cup,” and its short film companion, “The World in a Cup,” through cryptocurrency in 2016 and was her own cinematographer, editor, and director. (Courtesy Photo)

One of the things that sets the festival apart, says McCurdy, is that it has been structured to let filmmakers compete against their peers.

“Typically, you will be offered a single short film category, with studio-backed, high-budget films competing against first-time filmmaker(s),” she explains, adding that the RSFF is offering a student category for ages through high school; a post-secondary student category; an amateur category for first-time filmmakers or films not backed by a production company or outside funding; and a professional category.

“The really exciting thing about this layout is that we get to see the work of students, emerging filmmakers, and the developing professional film industry in Northwest Arkansas and across the country,” McCurdy enthuses. “These films were created with a passion and love for filmmaking, and we are so excited to share them at the festival.”

This year’s event will also include a VIP Lounge for filmmakers and all-access pass holders; a Filmmakers Happy Hour at Kinya Christian’s Into+View Art Gallery and Studio; a networking breakfast at Onyx’s private Dry Storage space; an awards ceremony; and an awards after-party hosted by Rockhill Studios at The 120 a Tapas Bar.

“We want to put this festival on the map, but more importantly, put Arkansas filmmakers on the map,” McCurdy says of the future. “The goal is growth for the film scene in Arkansas. There’s something special happening here! The support, enthusiasm, and talent are growing by the day. There’s a buzz. I can’t imagine how far this industry is going to come in five years, and I’m so excited to be here for it.”

Here, three of this year’s filmmakers answer a few questions for What’s Up!

‘Jelly’

“In February 2020, I was sitting in the library and this image came to me of a young woman playing the trumpet at the beginning of the day and at the end, with the melody she was messing with being slightly better,” says Jack Barr of his film “Jelly.” “It was a prideful moment for her. I was intrigued by this and wanted to know what her day was like, what had led from the start to the ending.” (Courtesy Photo)

Director: Jack Barr

Category: Student, Postsecondary

Type: Narrative Film

Q. What inspired you to want to make films?

A. I’ve had a dear relationship with films since I could put a VHS into the VHS player but was scared or insecure to jump into it until I entered the film program at the University of Central Arkansas as a transfer student. Being around others who weren’t sure about their filmmaking abilities as well made me confident in myself and I’ve grown to … cherish their collaboration.

Q. Tell me about how the film you’re screening came together?

A. In February 2020, I was sitting in the library, and this image came to me of a young woman playing the trumpet at the beginning of the day and at the end, with the melody she was messing with being slightly better. It was a prideful moment for her. I was intrigued by this and wanted to know what her day was like, what had led from the start to the ending. Then, as covid took over and I was stuck inside all day, the story was coming back to me. It held a different meaning for me now, as I had been struggling with the value of my voice and what impact I could have as an artist. Did I have any importance? All those feelings dripped right into the story, and it all clicked in time.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with this film?

A. I hope that at the very least, the themes of isolation and self-worth and characters can strike a semblance of a chord with any audience.

_

‘The World In A Cup’

Director: Brooke Bierhaus

Posters for “The World In A Cup” and “Lost in the Sauce” are ready for the Rogers Short Film Festival. (Courtesy Images)

Category: Professional

Type: Documentary

Q. What inspired you to want to make films?

A. I first started making documentaries as a means of uplifting under-reported stories around the world. I focused heavily on nonprofits and individuals working towards positive change in their communities.

Q. Tell me about how the film you’re screening came together?

A. “The World In A Cup” is a super-short sister film to my first feature film, “The Connected Cup.” I believe coffee is a language that can be shared cross-culturally as a means of authentic connection. … I traveled and filmed for four years on this project [and] conducted interviews in nine languages across five continents. In this documentary, viewers get to meet individuals and communities that offered insight into how coffee can be a language of connection.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with this film?

A. I hope the film inspires at least one person to see coffee as more than a drink. I want people to view their daily coffee as a daily opportunity to connect with a stranger, a family member, a friend, or someone new.

_

‘Lost In The Sauce: The Kalvin Henderson Story’

Director: Bernard L. Oliver

Category: Amateur

Type: Documentary

Q. What inspired you to want to make films?

A. I love movies, bad movies, good movies, great movies, I love them all. I often think about the staff and the power and creativeness that went into creating the film. Then I think to myself, ‘Am I capable of evoking the emotion that was awoken in me like these filmmakers and staff?’ The answer is yes.

Q. Tell me about how the film you’re screening came together?

A. The plot follows a professional boxer, professional musician, father and husband and his coach and mentor over a tale you have to see to believe. I wanted to provide a look at a story that is ongoing and not yet at its end. My teammate and current world contender, Kalvin Henderson, has always deserved to have his story told. My coach, Kevin Lightburn, also deserves to be celebrated. The perfect way I could do that was to follow them around and film and create something.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with this film?

A. I want this story to reach each and every kid that was or is told they are not good enough. Every kid that had a dream that was crushed by adults or peers. I certainly want to touch those little black boys and girls who believe sports is their only way out of poverty. That myth must be crushed.

__

FAQ

Rogers Short Film Festival

WHEN — March 4-6; doors open at 3 p.m. March 4; 11:45 a.m. March 5; and noon March 6

WHERE — Arkansas Public Theatre at the Victory in downtown Rogers

COST — $15-$20 day pass; $36-$48 festival pass; $90 all access pass

INFO — 631-8988 or arkansaspublictheatre.org/tickets

Categories: Cover Story