Hoopla

Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival to highlight Iowa productions

Ross Taylor

Guillermo “Bill” Vidal stands in front of his childhood home in Camaguey, Cuba. His journey from Cuba to becoming mayor of Denver, Colo., is captured in the documentary “¿Cómo Fue? A Cuban Journey.” The 42-minute film will be screened at 11:08 a.m. and 2:03 p.m. Saturday (4/7) during the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival at Collins Road Theatres in Marion.
Ross Taylor Guillermo “Bill” Vidal stands in front of his childhood home in Camaguey, Cuba. His journey from Cuba to becoming mayor of Denver, Colo., is captured in the documentary “¿Cómo Fue? A Cuban Journey.” The 42-minute film will be screened at 11:08 a.m. and 2:03 p.m. Saturday (4/7) during the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival at Collins Road Theatres in Marion.

Various views of Iowa will be all over Collins Road Theatre screens Friday evening and all day Saturday with the return of the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival.

The festival screens went blank for a year, as organizers needed a break.

“We were tired after 16 years,” festival director Scott Chrisman said during this winter’s call for entries. “It was a nonstop six- to seven-month run to do it right, so we decided, let’s take a year off and see how we feel in a year. It’s one of those things where, yeah, it’s a lot of work, but you miss it when you’re not doing it.”

Fifty films with Iowa ties were submitted for consideration, and 38 were chosen.

“It’s another fine crop of films,” Chrisman said on the festival’s website.

They represent a field of dreams from the filmmakers, reaping features, shorts, documentaries, music videos and experimental films from student, amateur and professional realms.

Some of the names are familiar, like Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Moline, Ill., returning with their new film “The Barn Raisers.” Others are new to the festival.

“A lot of people welcomed us back,” Chrisman told Hoopla this week. “They’re happy we returned, and we picked up some newcomers, as well.”

One title already has received lots of local buzz, bringing Hollywood to Cedar Rapids in 2014 to shoot the sci-fi saga, “Amelia 2.0.” Screenwriter Rob Merritt and director Adam Orton, both of Cedar Rapids, will participate in another returning festival feature — a filmmaker panel discussion at 5 p.m. Saturday.

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Joining them will be the Rundles and Okoboji native Becky Smith, an Emmy-nominated film and television director now working and teaching at the UCLA film school in Los Angeles. All have films selected for the festival.

“Amelia 2.0” will be screened at 7:24 p.m. Friday and 2:20 p.m. Saturday. “The Barn Raisers” will be shown at 11:10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. And Smith, who filmed “16 to Life” in McGregor, Marquette and Stone City in 2007, is bringing her latest work, “August in Berlin.” to Cedar Rapids. It will be shown at 2:53 and 6 p.m. Saturday and also will be screened at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in Dubuque from April 26 to 29.

It’s not unusual for common threads to emerge among the festival selections, said Chrisman, 38, of Springville, a filmmaker who works in marketing at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

“This year, it’s about the human experience,” he said. “That covers a lot of ideas, but it even got into some of the shorts.”

They explore social issues, relationship complications, environmental issues, Iowa history and building community through building barns.

The feature “Snapshots” covers three generations of women who have their own family secrets and dilemmas, which come to light during a weekend at a lake house. A flashback to the grandmother’s world in the ’60s becomes “a nice plot device to move things forward,” Chrisman said. “It’s very well edited, and does a nice job of revealing things in their own time.”

“Beautiful Brooke” focuses on a woman who broke up with her boyfriend because she cheated on him. Chrisman said it raises the question of why she is always pushing people away. It reminds him of “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” as she and her friends try to figure out what is going wrong with their relationships.

On the documentary side, Chrisman points to the human quest for freedom in “¿Cómo Fue? A Cuban Journey.” It follows the path of a child airlifted to the United States after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in 1961, who as an adult enters a life of public service in Denver, Colo., becoming mayor pro tem.

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“Amelia 2.0” looks at what makes us human. It explores various viewpoints, secular and religious, and how emerging artificial intelligence and robotic technology is challenging existing rights and laws.

“There’s something for everyone here,” Chrisman said. “Everyone will find some piece that really speaks to them. ... The documentaries, especially, always tell me something about Iowa that I didn’t know, or shine a light on pieces of Iowa that I wasn’t very familiar with.

“Overall, all of them tend to have this heart of ‘Here’s what it feels to be an Iowan’ or have that mind-set, to some degree.”

Get out!

WHAT: Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival

WHERE: Collins Road Theatre, 1462 Twixt Town Rd., Marion

WHEN: 6 to 9:42 p.m. Friday (4/6); Saturday (4/7) sessions 9:30 a.m. to 12:42 p.m. (morning), 1:30 to 5:20 p.m. (afternoon) and 6 to 8:55 p.m. (evening)

EXTRAS: Filmmaker panel discussion and Q&A, 5 p.m. Saturday; Eddy Awards, 10 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $35 all-event pass or $10 per session, Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening; Eddy Awards free with any festival ticket; at Collins Road Theatres or Shop.collinsroadtheatres.com/main.sc

SCHEDULE: Crifm.org/festivalschedule.html

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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