Named after Josiah Miles Neundorf, a local media artist who passed away in 2006 from osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer), URBAN-15’s Josiah Media Festival is one of the best film fests in San Antonio. Every year, the shorts films sent from all over the world by filmmakers under 21 years of age confirm what I see as a growing trend: oftentimes, student films are better — much better — than films made by adult directors.
Call it “youthful energy” or whatever, but Josiah always provides reasons not to miss this event that includes San Antonio films like The Associate, the predictable but entertaining and superbly shot film by Comm Arts’ Shane Leal-Willett, starring Brant Bumpers, which won Best in Show in 2012. There’s plenty others made by local directors too, directed by students from Film School of San Antonio, Northeast School of the Arts, St. Mary’s Hall, and SAY Sí.
Here’s my five reasons not to miss this year’s three-day festival.
#5 The new screen
URBAN-15’s studio not only has a brand new floor for dancing, but a brand new screen as well. I had no complaints last year, but I’m intrigued to see how everything will look this time.
(First Place Narrative, 8 min.)
Dir. Pamela Mora, 19, North Palm Beach, Fla.
Love in the eyes of a young man suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Believable acting and the claustrophobic feel of a psychological thriller.
#3 No Recent Activity
(First Place Experimental, 3 min.)
Dir. Sarah Rivka, 21, Westlake Village, Calif.
This trippy music video of a song by Portland band Sneer is as good as the track itself.
#2 Ditching School to Whistle
(First Place Documentary, 14 min.)
Dir. Ien Chi, 21, Duluth, Ga.
Now, this is something special. If you saw (and liked) American Harmony, a fascinating 2009 documentary about barbershop singing, you’ll dig this affectionate look at the world of… whistling! It’s hilarious in a Christopher Guest kind of way, only this is real. Even though some Indian religious schools of thought consider whistling a way to attract demons, in the West whistling is a marvelous, underrated art with its practitioners meeting once a year in Lewiston, N.C. to see who is the world’s best. My favorite: a woman suffering from an anxiety disorder who does the “double whistle”: sticking her tongue out, she whistles with a two-part harmony. And she didn’t even win. Ditching was so good I was left wanting to see a whole feature on the subject.
#1 Kachho Gadulo
(First Place Animation, 6 min.)
Dir. Pranay Patwardhan, 21, Pune, Maharashtra, India
This gorgeous-looking story about a child’s imagination takes ancient stories and folk tales from India’s spiritual heritage as a starting point. It has the intensity and grandiosity of The Mahabharata and the warm, sweet magic of Enrico Casarosa’s La Luna, nominated for a Best Short Animated Film Oscar in 2012. The fight scene looks like a chilling, free take on the story of Lord Nrsimhadeva (Krishna’s half-man/half-lion incarnation) vs. the demon Hiranyakasipu. Did I just compare this film by a 21-year-old from a remote (to us Westerners) place in India with Oscar-nominated material? You bet I did, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t win the “Best in Show” award, to be announced on Saturday. No pressure, URBAN-15.
7th Annual Josiah Media Festival
7pm Thu-Sat, July 11-13
2500 S Presa