Harvest of Arts showcases cinematic diversity of Lawrence

These days Lawrence serves as host to almost as many film festivals throughout the year as it does college basketball games.

So how does one of its oldest fests compare to some of the recent upstarts?

"You get a wide mix, it doesn't cost a dime and it's not a competitive environment," says Mark von Schlemmer, founder of the Harvest of Arts Film Festival. "The whole idea here is just sharing films, not necessarily judging which is better."


Special to the Journal-World

"Full Circle," a narrative piece by filmmaker Liz Townsend, will screen at the Harvest of Arts Film Festival.

Now celebrating its 13th year, HOA tries to subject the audience to the most diverse array of area-produced movies in the least amount of time.

"My goal is like a DJ trying to put together an interesting two-hour show of music," he explains. "If you dislike one, wait a few minutes and something else will come on and maybe you'll like that."

(The music reference is apropos, because at tonight's Granada Theatre event, festival attendees can stay for free after the screenings to enjoy a lineup of bands that include The Sound You Say, Esoteric and Buffalo Saints.)

The organizer says he ended up with about twice as many submissions as he could use. He mentions that over the baker's dozen of years he's produced the event, the one aspect that has constantly improved is the availability of cheaper and better technology.

"People have easier access to both camera equipment and editing," von Schlemmer says. "In general, the quality is going up as well. You have more people honing their craft, because they have more time. They don't have to wait for time on the school computer to learn how to edit. They can be practicing by working on things at home."

Ultimately, he settled on 24 films that run the gamut from narrative to documentary to music video. Among the highlights, von Schlemmer names "Run Cletus Run," which he describes as "a lowly commentary on the state of modern rock music."

Another is a 15-minute piece from Kansas City titled "Full Circle."

"It does a really nice job of addressing the concept of homosexuality without coming up with specific answers," he says. "It's kind of the blurry edges of it. It's really well-shot and well-made."

He reveals the program is much heavier on experimental entries this year, such as the unusual "Fabricating Electricity." Filmmaker Jessica Havlicek created this piece by literally using a sewing machine to add fabric onto the film stock.

That doesn't mean everyone who submits an entry gets lucky at this 13th annual event. There are still some types of movies that von Schlemmer shies away from.

Friday 10.01

  • 7:00 pm :: 13th Annual Harvest of Arts Film Festival
  • more info

"Being it's a festival programmed by a single person, I try not to interject my sensibilities too much," he says. "I would say that I'm OPEN to anything ... But I probably project my own progressive-minded sensitivity. Senseless violence I'm not thrilled about. I wouldn't have run 'Kill Bill Vol. 1' if Quentin Tarantino had given it to me, for instance."

While von Schlemmer says movies such as "C.S.A. -- The Confederate States of America" have drawn national attention to the Lawrence film scene, he claims momentum was building long before that project debuted.

"There was always this underground film thing going here," he says. "Everyone was shocked when they did the count at KU and realized there are like 200 film majors. And there are enough people who have graduated and stayed in the area to really boost the number of filmmakers."

Given this status, it appears Harvest of Arts won't be experiencing a drought anytime soon.


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