Saturday morning at the Sottile Theatre saw one of our favorite events of the Charleston International Film Festival: the screening of the winners of the South Carolina Film Commission Indie Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to help talented S.C. filmmakers produce their short films. We got to see the six winning short film projects, three of which were made by Charleston locals.
First up was William Aughtry and Phillip Walker’s Scattered City, a beautifully melancholy film noir about a detective working to find a missing person after Hurricane Katrina. We hope the filmmakers manage to take this work-in-progress to feature length, because the short just wasn’t enough. The film also featured an actor from another CIFF short from a few years ago, Brad Jayne’s The Song of Pumpkin Brown.
High Heels and Hoodoo, the work of siblings Jocelyn and Brian Rish, brought a good old-fashioned dose of graveyard spookiness to the table with a story of a steely, determined party girl who enlists the aid of a Gullah root doctor. The Lot, in which an older, traditional car salesman meets his match in a female customer, was followed by Jazz Hands, a creatively shot encounter between two teachers in a thrift store.
We loved the sharp, yet graceful animation of supine: a dream, in which a young woman is chased and caught by frightening creatures with needle fingers. We want (but don’t want!) to know what comes next.
The last film of the screening, We Can’t Help You, was so sophisticatedly subtle that we loved not quite knowing what was happening; in fact, this quiet film closed on such an ambiguous note, deliciously depriving us of the thing we’d been anticipating for several minutes, that the audience was shocked into spontaneous applause. This is one we can’t wait to see more of, too.