Revisit this year’s Macon Film Fest

Macon showcases eclectic silver screen talent in local downtown venue

The eighth annual Macon Film Festival was held in downtown Macon Feb. 14-17. Dozens of films were shown, several of which actually premiered at the festival. The content ranged from feature-length films about the rise of a punk rock band and their publicist, to a documentary showing the living conditions of a community in a Manila cemetery, to a short film that was simply two people’s blood painted on frames of film. Special guests included the filmmakers of several of these films, legendary Indie actress Mink Stole (who screened the original “Hairspray”), Emmy winner Crystal Chappell, director Steve Nash and Face-Off contestant Roy Whooley. Events wrapped up with a screening of “Beasts of the Southern Wild”.
“The Suicide Kid”, a feature-length film that premiered at the festival this year, tells the story of a YouTube Vlogger who rises to fame after he posts a video of his failed suicide attempt. It is told entirely through episodes of his vlog. He starts out as an awkward college freshman and develops an unhealthy fixation with a female classmate. After a series of events, he turns into an egotistic jerk who forces himself onto people he dislikes and who dislike him.
The film was directed by Marcus Sullivan and co-written with Adrian Murray and Dean Tardioli. Tardioli also stars in it as Timothy, the titular Suicide Kid. The film was in development for four years, one of which was spent filming. Sullivan explained that the concept came to him during high school after watching several video blogs by someone on YouTube. He realized that a narrative of this person’s life was forming through the videos and he saw potential for a story based on this. The film has fun with this concept and reminds the viewers that they are actually watching a series of videos, having Google ads and other YouTube elements pop up. The manner in which this was shot could cause some legal issues when it comes to distribution of the film.
“The film was shot guerilla style,” Sullivan said. “We didn’t have permission to shoot everywhere we were at. We didn’t even pick the music because it was all stuff that was in the background of where we were at.”
Another feature-length film, “Hated” follows a character named Veronica (played by Genevieve Padalecki of “Supernatural”) as she tries to promote her four friends’ band in post-9/11 New York. This film was extremely well made, and its quality stood out from many of the other films shown. It is a character-driven story about how friendships can be strained as fame interferes. The acting is great in this film, and the music from the band has a great punk rock sound. Director Lee Madsen, who attended the event, was thrilled to be showing the film at the festival.
“It’s great to get it out there to people. It’s tough to get a film out there to the people,” Madsen said. He has had offers for the film to get direct-to-video distribution, but he is hesitant to accept. “My producer and I agree that it may be best to hold out for a theatrical release,” he said. “We really think this may be the one.” His previous film, “Happy in the Valley”, is currently available on Netflix.
The Animation category was loaded with great films. The standout film was “Address is Approximate”, a journey told using stop-motion Google Earth. It has no dialogue but instead uses the visual medium in surprisingly complex ways to tell their story.
Other highlights include “Death of a Cemetery”, the story of a large community of squatters that have built their homes in the city of Manila’s largest cemetery. The cinematography and narrative were very moving and highlighted a little-known subject. Director Jeanie Duque Dizon said that she was born in the Philippines and learned of the cemetery because it was one of the places her mother “told her never to visit.” The documentary took roughly two years to film and one to edit. They have other projects in the works, including a coming-of-age story of a teen in a refugee camp.
These are only a few of the films showcased at the Macon Film Festival, held at the 567, an intimate viewing venue. For a complete list of the winning films and directors, see the graphic to the right.