The ambitious crew of youth putting together the annual Next Generation of Filmmakers Film Festival (NGF Film Festival) have been thinking big for the 2016 showcase. Students from Orange Coast College started the fest three years ago to screen short films by students in their vicinity. Its second year, it included student filmmakers from across California, later expanding nationwide. And this year, its third, NGF Film Festival expanded its call to ingenues across the globe, collecting smashing opuses from countries such as Iran, Hungary, Brazil, Egypt, Canada and Israel.
"We felt that we wanted to hear more voices from filmmakers from all the countries to know what is out there," says festival director Nicholas Col. "Films from California have a certain amount of themes and diversity, but opening [the fest] to the whole country and the whole world, you get different cultural backgrounds into the films."
Col says NGF Film Festival will continue to welcome international fare in the years to come. By far, this is the biggest one, taking up both screens at the Frida Cinema. It concludes with an awards show Sunday night at the Yost Theater, featuring performances by singer Dakota Denton and The Voice finalist Xenia. Here are some films to look out for this weekend:
College Showcase. Expect to see entertaining and enlightening works by forward-thinking auteurs. Ceylon Carhoglu's Garden of the Forest focuses on the impending extinction of elephants in Laos, caused by deforestation and tourism; it also shows how the Chinese market threatens not only the majestic animals, but also Laos' history and culture. The Ballerina, Her Shoemaker and His Apprentice, directed by Eva Ye, follows a young man named George living in the 1930s as he finds work as an apprentice to a strict pointe-shoe maker and falls in love with the ballerina whose shoes he makes. Sophie, directed by Alexandra Hsu, shows an 8-year-old girl's tumult after her mother dies and her struggle to connect with her grandmother.
LGBT Showcase. This block highlights films advocating for LGBTQ causes or made by LGBTQ filmmakers. Directed by Javad Daraei, I Don't Like Here is about a young woman named Eli struggling with her gender identity while coming to terms with an intolerant father in Iran, where homosexuality is highly looked down upon. Thanksgiving Guest is a comedy about a biracial, bisexual woman including a fellow she met off Craigslist in her holiday plans with the family in the hopes of pissing off her dad. Pass the mashed potatoes, please. There will also be a panel with industry professionals talking about their experiences as filmmakers in mainstream film and television.
High School Films. It's probably a product of wider access to video streaming platforms, higher-quality digital tools or a more mobilized DIY spirit, but some of these kids already got serious film game—Scorsese-level game. It's a mood booster. (In my day, I had to make do with shooting on Hi-8 format.) Finding Me is a short about a young boy named Timothy making an Into the Wild-like journey of self-discovery to discard societal conventions and figure out what life's really about (man, I hope he fares better than Chris McCandless did). And Deep End is an experimental film that unravels internal thoughts on personal relationships, including "the thought of never letting the people you value the most know how you feel about them," per the film synopsis.
Also Noteworthy. The International Showcase includes a slew of films from as far as Israel, China and Brazil, including American Goals, directed by Jessica Teleze. This experimental short deconstructs masculinity and the societal pressures and expectations that come with it.
NGF Film Festival, at the Frida Cinema at 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 285-9422. Fri.-Sun. For show times and tickets information, visit www.ngffest.org.
Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers the Orange County DIY music scene, film, arts, Latino culture and currently pens the long-running column Trendzilla. Born, raised, and based in Santa Ana, she loves bad movies, punk shows, raising her plants, eating tacos, Selena, and puns.