Consider it a testimonial to the Flint Film Festival that I could all but camp out there for three days and not watch a second of the entry voted its best feature.
Of course, I couldn't have known that "11:59," the thriller from Colorado writer-director Jamin Winans, would win the top award. Festival honors aren't announced until screenings are over.
But it also means that the festival, now happily located at the Flint Institute of Arts, has grown to include enough films that there's not enough time to see 'em all. With a greatly expanded lineup of more than 80 entries in competition, that's what happened last weekend. More movies, fewer repeats.
Not all of the films I saw were gems, but that's the allure of indie films and also part of the challenge of attending a film festival, where there's a lot going on at once. As the event in Flint grows, as it certainly will, the quality of films will increase with the quantity.
The festival's move to the FIA for its third year was a great idea, especially with the museum's attractive auditorium, and organizers noted a hike in admissions - to more than 1,000 over three days, a figure that could stand to improve if more Flintites take advantage of this event.
Those who stayed away missed a treat in Winans' "Spin," a seven-minute film that won for best short (hence a double honor for its director). It's a clever take on fate, personified by an odd DJ who uses a time-traveling turntable to repair city-street calamities. I also really liked "Flyaway," "21 Carbs" and "Tuffy Low Low" among the shorts, but none of them had the wit and richness of "Spin."
I liked "The Discontents" and "Self-Medicated," but the best of the features I saw was "The Monster of Phantom Lake," a hilarious parody of grade-D horror/sci-fi films of the 1950s. Made by a Minnesota company, the film is full of cheesy dialogue, improbable plot turns and a dead-on performance by Josh Craig as a stuffy "man of science" who has none of the right answers but can strum a rock 'n' roll song on his handy guitar.
According to the film's Web site, a "Phantom Lake" sequel already is in the works, with Craig reprising his role as "Professor Jackson ... from the university." Here's hoping we'll see it in a future Flint Film Festival.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 810.766.6258 Ed Bradley talks about movies at 9:40 a.m. Fridays on the "Heller Come High Water" show on WFNT-AM (1470).