Special to The Dagger
The second annual Bel Air Film Festival showcased the best of Harford’s film talent in a week-long celebration of the arts. Held at Bel Air’s Reckord Armory, patrons were treated to a selection of films selected by the Bel Air Cultural Arts Commission.
Drawing a notable increase in attendance from last year’s inaugural festival, the opening night feature “The Band That Wouldn’t Die,” a Barry Levinson documentary about the former Baltimore Colts marching band, was highlighted by a speech from John Zieman, president of the now-Marching Ravens. Saturday featured two films, “A Shine of Rainbows” and “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee.”
Closing the festival was a selection of short films by local high school students. Running the gamut from music videos to spoof horror-comedies, the 10 student films were an inspiration and thoroughly enjoyable.
Brother and sister duo Henry and Brooke Basta submitted a combined five films to be judged. Henry’s films “Pineapple,” “PBS.org,” and “Cook Library” showcased a comedic sophistication far ahead of his age. Featuring musical numbers by his band Sharpened Crayons, all the pieces showed the polish of a professional. “PBS.org” is the winning nationwide submission for PBS’s campaign to raise awareness of their web presence, and will be familiar to many who view that stations programming. “Pineapple” also takes the unique spin of being a submission to a 48-hour film competition, where participants are required to create a film from start to finish within that time frame. To ensure this is followed, certain items are required to be in the film, including the title fruit.
Brooke submitted two films “Don’t You Wish This Could Happen” and “Super Fresh Love.” The latter features her impressive drawings in conjunction with a Sharpened Crayons song. The former was a stop-motion animation created during the massive snow storm earlier this year.
Another musical talent, Erin Hanratty, submitted her original song and music video as the opening piece for the student films. Showcasing impressive editing skills and an eye for technique, she enhanced her musical talents in “Wastin’ My Time.”
Taking a more traditional approach to cinema, the other submissions were in the vein of feature length films. “Addict” was a trailer created for a faux movie about the humorous dangers of Facebook addiction. A combined effort of Viktor Polyak, Heather Scampton, James Mews, Charolette Hagerman, and Kara Jester, the trailer starred Viktor as the protagonist lost in the dredges of social networking. Apropos to the release of the “Social Network,” it could make an excellent sequel.
The youngest submission came from Gracie Brett with her film “Molly’s Invasion,” a humorous slant on an alien invasion and their lack of coordination in pulling off their devious plan. Routinely thwarted by the nine-year-old star, the aliens employ many strategies for stealing her Cocoa Puffs. Dastardly!
A late submission from Ryan Collins, “In My Mind” poked fun at overly thought-out scripts and obscure cinema. Combining eccentric subject matter with tongue in cheek analysis, Collins piece stood pretentious film demagogues on their head.
My stand-out favorite was the submission from Benn Ayd titled “School,” based on the life of one student as he is followed through his typical day at John Carroll. In a similar vein as “The Office,” the comedy was spot-on, the writing was concise and well-crafted, and the acting was pulled off flawlessly.
The film festival was a rousing success and looks to be a part of the Harford County community for years to come. In a town perhaps best known for the Olympic dreams of the namesake of nearby Kimmie Way, the talents of local youth on display a short distance away may challenge that distinction.