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Eastern Iowa filmmakers dominate the dozen short works chosen for “The Film Lounge,” and Eastern Iowans can see these pieces before they air in two episodes on Iowa PBS.
Iowa PBS will show six films at a time in one-hour blocks, but FilmScene will show them all during a free watch party, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Viewers will see all 12 films, which range in length from two minutes to 20 minutes, and are invited to stay for a reception with the filmmakers afterward.
It’s the sixth season for the Iowa filmmakers’ showcase, produced by Iowa PBS in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, both divisions of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The first episode airs Monday and the second airs Feb. 7.
Watch Party: 12:30 p.m. Saturday; FilmScene at The Chauncey, 404 E. College St. in Iowa City. Free; doors open at noon, reception with the filmmakers at 3 p.m. Masks required. For more details, click on Coming Soon // Special Events link at icfilmscene.org/
On Iowa PBS: Episode 1, 9 to 10 p.m. Monday; Episode 2, 9 to 10 p.m. Feb. 7; iowapbs.org/series/25685/film-lounge
As a co-founder of FilmScene and a producer with Northland Films, Andrew Sherburne of Iowa City is well acquainted with the statewide project. FilmScene has held Film Lounge watch parties in the past, and Northland’s “Husker Sand” — a portrait of champion cornhusker Leroy Sand and the National Corn Husking Championships — was shown in the series’ debut season.
“This time around, as a producer, I'm just an eager audience member. I'm looking forward to seeing some great new work from my Iowa peers,” said Sherburne, FilmScene’s executive director.
Hosting the free watch party also dovetails with his organization’s objectives.
“FilmScene recently renewed our mission, vision and values, and part of that includes a commitment to support Iowa filmmakers in numerous ways,” Sherburne said.
“This perfectly aligns with our Filmmaker Spotlight program that devotes screen space to working filmmakers. With so many filmmakers being near Iowa City or having ties here, it’s also an opportunity for audiences to get to know the artists working in our area.”
The first episode begins with a short film gathering big buzz, with “Frozen Out” winning a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The five-minute experimental film reflects on an immigrant’s struggles with mental health. It was written and directed by its star, Hao Zhou (pronounced How Joe), a graduate student in film and video production at the University of Iowa, and produced by Iowa City filmmaker Tyler Hill.
The film, snapped up for more than 35 film festivals around the world, could bring home more Oscar glory. It’s in the running for Best Live Action Short Film, to be announced during the Academy Awards ceremony March 27. If Zhou and Hill win, they’ll be in the company of Robert Zemeckis and Spike Lee, who brought home Oscar statuettes as student filmmakers.
9 to 10 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, Iowa PBS
“Frozen Out,” by Tyler Hill and Hao Zhou of Iowa City, brings together scenes from rural Iowa and rural China to explore anxiety, dislocation and self-exile.
“Doubt,” by Godfreed Ebong of Cedar Rapids, uses the experience of a mixed martial arts fighter to create a narrative about triumph over adversity.
“Lo/ve,” by Tempest Montgomery of Iowa City, uses abstraction, color and clay to study the conflict of emotion and discover the sources of true joy and fulfillment.
Spotlight Feature: Peek behind the scenes at a short film project by Beau Batterson that was filmed entirely in a Cedar Rapids basement with the use of green screens. It's all about creativity on a shoestring budget.
“Ghost Creek,” by Benjamin Handler of Iowa City, reflects on the anxiety, hope and understanding achieved when a city loses the art, culture and community that makes it unique.
“Birdsong,” by Paul Huenemann of Cedar Rapids, is an animated contemplation about what it would be like to retire.
9 to 10 p.m. Feb. 7, Iowa PBS
“Earth FM,” by Philip Rabalais of Fairfield, tells the tale of three scientists who reach into the planet using esoteric audio equipment and make a mysterious and cathartic discovery.
“A Seussian Trip,” by Katie Jensen, Bruce James Bales and Cynthia O'Hern of Des Moines, showcases the art of avant-garde fashion.
“Green Witch,” by Antoinette Lavelle of Des Moines, visually depicts a mantra to encourage reflection on the natural world and harmonization with the earth.
Spotlight Feature: In this tour of the "the crookedest film festival in the United States," viewers will see why the annual Snake Alley Festival of Film in Burlington attracts fans from all over the country to its popular mix of short films, screenplay competitions and table readings.
“Debut,” by Conner Hopkins of Decorah, showcases the subculture of professional wrestling by following one wrestler's journey from novice to pro.
“The Atmosphere,” by Amenda Tate of West Des Moines, captures an experimental performance that uses movement, gesture, presence, space, abstraction and self-interaction to investigate consciousness.
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