NoHo Cinefest offers the best of the horror, comedy, award winning shorts and feature films. It showcases the top independent producers, directors, writers and actors as well. Visiting this festival it becomes apparent that independent film makers and audiences are a novel breed. They are not the snobbish sophisticates that inhabit only ‘special’ gatherings on the Westside of Los Angeles, but are more likely to be the neighbor or the teacher, or the biker encountered each day. Gustavo Sampaio is the organizer of this event and it is obvious that it took a big vision and a labor of love to make it happen here in North Hollywood.
The variety of films available each day is wonderful. Audiences will watch really good acting, writing, and directing in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. The hefty lineup includes shorts and feature films in different genres that highlight a wide variety of talent to feast upon. Horror themes, red carpet events, opening night parties, and Q&A sessions keep the mood inspiring and engaging. A few special shorts are recommended to keep your eyes on such as: “Ophilia”, “The Girl on the Roof”, and “Performance Review”. Most are shot locally and with the traditional massive independent budget. Although they are very different, each offers a wonderful thought provoking twist .The writer/ director of Ophilia, Matteo Ribaudo has had success since 2005 with “In the Name of The Father”, which one in the comedy short division at the NY Independent Film and Video Festival. Now we taste his latest triumph in this dark drama. We are introduced to a loner, a young man who fanaticizes about love and connections. Or is it just a fantasy? Matteo has set the mood and the answers just out of our reach. This short film reminds us that characters and stories can be real or imagined and always memorable.
The fine performance of a young girl Lila (Naiia Ulrich), who is filled with sadness and loneliness, is discovered in Girl on the Roof. Bullied at school and ignored at home, her choices are limited. Writer/actress Amelia Jackson-Gray who plays Lucy, is her real world step-mother. How fortunate for the audience that this young actress who is the daughter of the director Skeet Ulrich was able to be in this fine short. On the comedic side, another one not to miss is Performance Review. A humorous look at the realities of relationships in our over defined and sped up world; where time is in short supply but anxious and over organized people are plentiful. All these films definitely resonate with the audience.
Watching one of the featured documentaries, “Someone You Love: the HPV Epidemic”, was painful and at times a bit overwhelming. This is a polished full length documentary that focuses on the tragedy and ignorance of the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV epidemic in our country. It shows us the hurt and the triumphs of five courageous women over the course of their surprising diagnosis. The audience is taken on a journey of discovery and pain as we witness the harsh reality of trying to survive with this life threatening virus. This film is compelling and determined in its message. The director Frederic Lumiere captures each person’s unique situation with grit and sensitivity. It is skillfully written by Mark Hefti who manages to weave many of the women’s own words into the story. Vanessa Williams is the perfect choice to narrate these stories and the NoHo Cinefest is exactly the right place to view this film. This is a very real health crisis and it is preventable. Hopefully, after this festival showing it will be in wide release for everyone to see.
Each day at the Cinefest brings new surprises and delights as both feature films and shorts are presented to eager audiences. Film festivals offer a new way to connect with the filmmakers and actors. The striking differences in content, genre, and style stand out as a wonderful tribute to the creativity and diversity of the film makers. It is wonderful to see the connection and accessibility everyone at the festival has with each other. Although organizing film festivals is not his full time job, Gustavo has succeeded in giving us an experience that will resonate with filmmakers and film goers alike. He is dedicated to sharing the best of the best to audiences in a different way from most movie festivals. He has accomplished this here. In addition some of the local restaurants have offered ticket holder discounts each day. Check out: Bow & Truss, The Eclectic, The Federal, Tokyo Delves, Big Wang’s and District Pub in the area. Part of the tickets sales will be going to the California Health Collaborative which educates and helps women with cervical and breast cancer issues. This is the 2nd annual festival and many worthy organizations contributed to its success. Hopefully, each year it will as interesting and accessible as this one has been. Everyone who loves film, independents and undiscovered talent should come. The North Hollywood CineFest will run April 10-16, 2015. Visit NoHoCinefest.com.
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