Movie News & Reviews

Filmslang is on its own and planning for a big future

Flood Tide, by Todd Chandler is about a group of artists and the death of a friend.
Flood Tide, by Todd Chandler is about a group of artists and the death of a friend.

Even if for its name only, it was somewhat fortuitous that Filmslang started as a companion to the now defunct Boomslang music festival.

"Someone said, 'Oh, we should have a filmslang,' and I remember thinking that was the best name for a festival ever, because filmslang is real," says Thomas Southerland, a filmmaker and coordinator of the Lexington Public Library's cable channel. "If you work on a set, you know what filmslang is: It's all the little terms for the technology or equipment or whatever.

"I realized that no one has ever called a festival Filmslang. When I was recently at a festival in New Orleans, I have a card that says Filmslang on it, and everyone who saw it said, 'That sounds great. I want to submit to that festival.'"

But Filmslang doesn't take submissions yet — at least not in the traditional Sundance-style form of taking submissions from filmmakers to be considered for inclusion and prizes.

In its current form, Filmslang is a curated festival, with Southerland, some of his library colleagues and Lexington Film League directors Lucy Jones and Sarah Wylie VanMeter picking the titles and putting the event together.

"Next year, we hope to be submission-based and go full-out, where we would always have a Kentucky-specific book of filmmakers, but we also want to open it up to the whole country and turn it into something great," Southerland says.

Before they start taking submissions, though, the trio of Southerland, Jones and VanMeter have what they say is a strong trio of features plus a slate of shorts from local filmmakers to show Saturday through Monday. They wanted to steer clear of Friday because of Halloween.

The first year was one movie: a showing of Heavy Metal Parking Lot in a parking lot. The event has steadily grown in the subsequent two years, with more films and visiting filmmakers, and although piggybacking on the music festival was a good way to start, Southerland says, this year the organizers have felt a freedom as an independent entity.

One new innovation is a slate of short films from young filmmakers. The shorts will screen Saturday afternoon.

"Thom said, 'Hey, let's do a young-filmmakers submission for a screening, and I said, 'Yeah, that sounds great,'" VanMeter says. "We've been calling for submissions from young filmmakers with the Film League for the past five years and gotten like four filmmakers or below."

But this time, there were 25.

"That's really exciting," VanMeter says. "I know it's the public library's reach, but I also know there's more interest now, more access to equipment, and it's really great to see."

Among the highlights in the youth films, Southerland says, are a half-dozen submissions from Elkhorn Crossing in Scott County, a documentary from Whitesburg called A Little Town in the Mountains, and a Shaun of the Dead-style comedy called Infectious.

The centerpiece of the event is the three Lexington premiere films showing Saturday and Sunday:

Something, Anything by Paul Harrill. It's a drama about a newlywed who goes on a spiritual journey after a tragedy. The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Harrill.

Find Your Way by Brian Nunes. It's a documentary about street musicians.

Flood Tide by Todd Chandler. It's a drama about a group of artists and their response to the death of a friend. Chandler will participate in a discussion following the film.

For the organizers, it's a microcosm of the local and national type of event that they hope to simply expand in subsequent editions.

"Lexington can be a place that shows off not just the big films," Southerland says. "I'm a huge fan of regional filmmakers who have decided they want to live here and make a choice not to move to L.A., make a choice to stay here and tell their stories."