This Saturday, Cinetopia Film Festival will host a special one-day-only short film event: The A2 Tech Film Showcase, all proceeds from which go to benefit the Michigan Theater Foundation. Curated by members of Ann Arbor’s dynamic tech community, the showcase will feature a selection of short films from emerging voices both in the US and abroad that explore the convergence of technology, art, and filmmaking.
We reached out to some of the filmmakers involved to give you some more info on their movies, the creative processes behind them, and what they hope you’ll take away from the screening.
Can you tell us a little bit about the background of and inspiration for your film?
A.V. Rockwell, director of Feathers After listening to the song “Feather” by Little Dragon, I was inspired to explore the idea of flight, as it relates to the meaning of freedom. This led me to begin developing a story about a group of children that were given liberation from the constraints of adult supervision, but under ironic circumstances – these would be youths that felt abandoned, if not discarded by, society.
The generational trauma Black men experience is a subject I’ve deeply cared about for a long time, and after observing how the tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were handled the summer I wrote the screenplay, it gave me clarity on how I could finally address this theme as I made the film. Feathers is ultimately an exploration of the emotional burdens young black boys carry—in today’s climate especially—growing up in a country that shows little regard for the value of their lives.
Scott Upshur and Patrick APOC Felsenthal, director and star of APOC: Hurricane Goddamn! I (Patrick) began writing the song “Hurricane Goddamn!” during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. At the time I was thinking a lot about the climate crisis and reading the poems of Robinson Jeffers. Sonically, producer Earmint (aka Spectacular Diagnostics aka Robert Krums) and I were working on a collection of songs that referenced the sounds of ’80s hip hop and electro, things like Man Parrish, Rammellzee, and Kurtis Blow.
When director Scott Upshur (whom I’d worked with before) heard the song, he immediately had ideas and we began brainstorming. We ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the video and were floored by how quickly we were able to reach our goal. The video contains homages to the work of Jim Henson, Georges Méliès’ ‘A Trip To The Moon,’ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ There are also elements of ’60s and ’70s kids TV shows like ‘Lost In Space,’ ‘Land Of The Lost,’ and ‘H.R. Pufnstuf.
Rik Cordero, director of Jeepney Confessions My inspiration was drawn from an actual conversation that I had with rapper Action Bronson about creativity. As someone who identities as a “Creative” there’s a bit of pretentiousness that seeps in when said out loud. Creative people are “driven” in a way that they must constantly be involved in a bunch of projects simultaneously.
It becomes this willingness to put lots of time and effort into something that really doesn’t always have a point to most practical people. Since the pandemic the world feels very much beyond our control so art and being creative offers a bit of relief from our harsh reality. And every once in a while those two things intersect and you end up having something really interesting to say. But right now I think most of us are in survival mode and doing the best we can with our resources.
What do you hope viewers take away with them?
A.V. Rockwell This story is my allegorical love letter to Black men, acknowledging the broken spirits so many of them walk around with. Like Black women, their unique relationship to disenfranchisement keeps reinventing itself every generation. I hope watching the film inspires greater understanding and empathy for what they face, as we actively work towards dismantling systematic oppression in our country.
Scott Upshur and Patrick APOC Felsenthal Well, foremost, we hope they enjoy it, as we think it’s a lot of fun. We also hope that it’s evident how many people it takes to create something of this scope, as we had an amazing group of collaborators who put a lot of time and energy into the project. If it helps viewers to think about the climate crisis in a different way than that probably wouldn’t be a bad thing either. We hope humanity’s hubris isn’t terminal.
Rik Cordero I think if there’s one takeaway from watching this film it’s that art should be made to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.
Catch the A2 Tech Film Showcase for one day only THIS SATURDAY August 29. Tickets can be purchased via the Michigan Theater’s website.
A big thank you to Michigan Medicine for their ongoing support of Cinetopia and the Michigan Theater Foundation, and to Domino’s Pizza, Tito’s Vodka, and Netscout for their continued sponsorship of Cinetopia during this time.