Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise
March 11, 2002
By Diane C. Beaudoin



FITCHBURG -- F4, the first annual free film festival held at Fitchburg State College, is now in the history books, with a 25-minute narrative film called "Shower" capturing the top award.

Randall Good of Rochester, N.Y., received the Best in Show nod for his film, a character study detailing the breakdown of a relationship that looks at how even the tiniest of changes can create a huge difference.

"The key to the film is routine, and how when the little aspects are disrupted, it can affect the stability of the relationship," he explained.

Other films garnering top honors at FSC's first independent film festival, which ran Thursday through Saturday, were: "We've Got Johnny," which won the Audience Award; "Dead in America," named Best Original Film; "Hanna House," for Narrative Feature; and "Blood Orange," for Narrative Short.

Steve Flynn's spoof on the Olympic games, "Bored of the Rings," won Best Comedic Short. The first-time filmmaker described his film as "something I came up with watching the Summer Games in 1996. Rhythmic gymnastics, trampolining -- games like this were made into athletics. I got the idea for creating penmanship as an athletic event for the next Summer Games. I went with the United States, Russia and Australia battling it out for the gold."

His film shows commentators describing the event with great fervor, and the athletes, after "competing," sitting anxiously, waiting for the judges' scores to come in.

"We've Got Johnny" is a 20-minute film that depicts a news reporter returning to her hometown, which happens to be Leominster, to cover the sale of the last apple orchard in town. Director Andy Grant, a Leominster High school graduate, and former Leominster resident Matt Proietti submitted the film, which was the top vote-getter by the crowds that viewed comedy entries.

Keith E. Gerrard, who served as technical director for F4, and Managing Director J.C. Bouvier were pleased with the festival's premier. "We had between 80 and 85 films submitted, and for the first year, this was great," Gerrad said.

Filmmakers were able to submit entries free of charge. "At first, we had films submitted free only for students of the college, then, after some discussion, we decided to make all submissions free for anyone," Gerrard said. "We realized that most filmmakers are scraping by, so this gave them the opportunity to have their films shown."

This was not a big-budget film festival -- most of the movies screened during F4 cost from a low of $600 to a high of about $13,000 to bring to the screen.

William Keough, a professor of English and Literature at Fitchburg State, gave rave reviews to both the films and the festival. "This is a marvelous potpourri of films," he said. "A very good level of technical expertise has been shown."

Keough had words of praise for Bouvier as well. "Without J.C. Bouvier, there would have never been a festival. He has put in about 1,000 man-hours to get this going. He has been extremely gracious and fair with all filmmakers, and for him to get John Landis -- that was quite the coup for him."

Director John Landis, perhaps best known for his work on the films "Animal House" and "The Blues Brothers," spoke at FSC Thursday on the first night of the film festival.

Budding filmmakers from across the United States and Europe entered movies in the festival, but it won't be the only avenue they'll take while searching for their big break. "Sidewalk," one of the films screened at the festival, describes the route taken by many novice filmmakers. Its writer and director, John Markland of Liverpool, England, called small film festivals like the one at FSC a stepping stone, part of a filmmaker's coming-of-age.

"You travel from festival to festival, waiting and hoping that someone in the audience will see your film and want it, or part of it, and have the funding to create more films," Markland said. "Festivals give us the chance to show our work and maybe get the break we need to get into the industry."


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In Association with Lemonstar & Hobo Mania Productions