Cape's Cannes Festival

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Move over Sundance. Watch out Cannes. Cape Girardeau has entered the film festival arena.

OK, so maybe Cape Girardeau's Show Me Digital Film Festival is not quite on the scale of Robert Redford's mountain star-fest or the world's best-known film festival, but Friday's festival is a start.

And the two men behind it, Patrick Bond and Michael Huntington, hope it is the start of something big.

They already have some experience in bringing the film world to Cape Girardeau. In March, Bond premiered his film "Dark Garden" at the University Center at Southeast Missouri State University, where the film festival will be held.

"Financially it wasn't successful," Bond said of his $4,000 film. "But that's when we got people interested. That's when people started taking us seriously."

Around the time of the premiere, Bond and Huntington formed the Cape Filmmaker's Cooperative, which brings together people who are interested in all aspects of filmmaking and serves as a resource for future film projects. The cooperative now has more than 200 members.

"People just want to get involved," Huntington said. "People here in the community just want to be involved because it's different."

Holding a film festival in Cape Girardeau was a goal of the cooperative right from the start. "The day after the premiere [the cooperative] had a meeting at DC'z Cafe. We didn't want to stop," Bond said.

"Once we got the CFC together, we went at it with the approach that we want to be making movies all the time. We want to keep busy. And we've been keeping busy ever since 'Dark Garden' premiered. It's taken off," Huntington said.

According to Huntington, the cooperative is now registered with the Missouri Creative Arts Agency and the Missouri Arts Council. The plan is to set it up as a not-for-profit organization within the next few months.

The plan is also to make the film festival an annual event.

"The whole purpose of this year's film festival is to set us up for next year," Huntington said.

And if all goes well this year, next year's film festival will likely take place over four days and have feature-length films.

"It will be an alternative to the two other film festivals in the state in Kansas City and St. Louis," Huntington said.

The fact that Cape Girardeau is nowhere near the size of these other two cities does not faze Huntington, who actually sees advantages to making films in a smaller community because "you're a big fish in a small pond."

"Each time we do a project we try to be more and more professional," Huntington said. "Eventually something will make a splash, and Cape Girardeau will be on the map. We do have an agenda for Cape Girardeau. It's not just a bunch of guys making movies. We want people to come to Cape to make movies. We want a real independent film movement and for Cape to be the center of that."

Huntington and Bond realize that comments like this seem unbelievable to many, but they point out that they have already managed to hold a film premiere and now a film festival within the same year.

"We'll have the first film festival in Cape Girardeau. Nobody can take that away from us," Huntington said.

Although the festival was an idea back in March, the actual planning started in September.

The cooperative sought out film entries through the Web site filmfestivals.com and the Web site of Bond's production company, Backwards Logic. Press kits were also sent to media outlets and film festival organizers throughout Missouri.

The result was numerous inquiries, many by people interested in submitting feature-length films, and a few dozen film entries. All the films had to be shot in a digital format, films that anybody with a video camera and the right computer programs could make.

Huntington said the advent of what he calls "the digital age" in movie making allows for truly independent films to be made because the technology is available for anyone to use.

15 entries

Out of the entries the cooperative received for the film festival, 11 were selected to be part of the festival. Included in the selection are films made by people as far away as Los Angeles and Australia and as close as Scott City and Cape Girardeau.

There are also four films by Huntington and Bond in the festival.

The 15 short films being shown range in length from two minutes to 30 minutes and cover genres from comedy to horror and animation.

The evening gets underway at 6 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom with opening speeches. The first round of films starts at 6:20 p.m. with a break at 7:20 p.m. followed by a second round of films, a break at 8:30 p.m. and then the third and final round of films.

After the film screenings, awards will be presented for best film and best director.

Following the festival there will be a party for festival-goers 21 or older at Breakaways, 15 N. Main St., featuring live music by the Tone Def All-Stars and free food for people who have their festival ticket.

kalfisi@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

WANT TO GO?

What: Show Me Digital Film Festival

When: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12

Where: University Center Ballroom, Southeast Missouri State University

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