1152-Hour Film Fest gives filmmakers time in more ways than one

This is the fifth year that Lawrence resident and Kansas University graduate Bradley Cook has made a short film for the annual Wild West Film Fest.

Like the previous four years, his new film “Descent 5: The Illusory Descension of Infinity” was produced as part of a series, but can be viewed as a stand-alone piece as well. The biggest difference is that instead of having 48 hours to make the film from tip to tail, he had 48 days.

Having more time is a big help, especially when you are serving as the film’s director, writer, editor, producer, actor and you’re doing all the sound design and musical composition. Even then, it turns out, there are new challenges.

“The biggest challenge of having 48 days was that I work seven days a week at two different jobs,” Cook says. “Many things in life can be postponed for 48 hours. Not very many things in life can be postponed for 48 days.”

“Descent 5: The Illusory Descension of Infinity”

“Descent 5: The Illusory Descension of Infinity” by Eric Melin

Cook’s short will premiere with nine other films Thursday, April 23, at Liberty Hall at the second night of screenings for the WWFF’s 1152-Hour Film Festival, which marks the festival's 10th anniversary.

The extra amount of time for the filmmakers to create also means the running time of many of this year’s entries is longer, so WWFF chair Derek Sellens split the screenings over two nights.

Last week, the films in Screening Group A were shown at the Kansas City Film Fest. After Thursday's screening at Liberty Hall, The Granada will hold an awards ceremony Saturday, April 25, with a party to follow.

The secret thematic criteria that each filmmaker was required to incorporate into their films is very relevant this year. On a broad scale, it was the concept of time. More specifically, says Sellens, “They must use three of the following seven: Focus, a not-so-famous landmark, tickets, 11:52 a.m. or p.m., a strongly worded letter, what if …, and/or a bad habit.”

Savannah Rodgers, a KU film student, had never entered the 48-hour Wild West Film Fests in the past because of the strict time limitation. Being a perfectionist, she likes to take her time when writing and filming and not feel rushed. It probably helped matters that her satiric short “Politically Correct” was shot in just one location, the Marriott TownePlace Suites in downtown Lawrence.

"Politically Correct"

"Politically Correct" by Eric Melin

“Like any project I do, I want this to evoke some thought,” Rodgers says. “I wanted to create a film that showed writers that were trying so hard to be politically correct that they didn’t get any work done. It’s a reflection of the current state of television where writers are too afraid to write diverse characters for fear that they will offend someone. There are a lot of jokes in ‘Politically Correct’ that question how we as a society talk about diversity, especially in television.”

Rodgers also had extra guidance from a knowledgeable source: Lawrence resident and film production multihyphenate Laura Kirk, who also stars in “Politically Correct.”

“This film kicks ass.”

That’s Lawrence resident and KU graduate Ben Burghart talking about his entry in the 1152-Hour Film Fest, a “neon-soaked, neo-noir, garbage-punk action film where a man obtains a liquid drug that when drank, allows him to ‘not die’ for one hour after consumption.”

“Neon Veins: HemmohRAGE”

“Neon Veins: HemmohRAGE” by Eric Melin

Burghart co-wrote and co-directed “Neon Veins: HemmohRAGE” with his brother Jacob, and Ben is the lead actor. The Burghart brothers have competed in WWFF events for seven years, and a collaboration called “Head Count” that they made last year with local production company Rockhaven Films won both the first place and the people’s choice awards at last year’s mystery-themed WWFF. The pair teamed with Rockhaven again this year, and the goal for “Neon Veins” is simple:

“I hope that when people watch the film,” he says, “they get lost in its world and story and realize that great films — that aren't lame, boring dramas — can be made in Kansas with just a ton of creativity and working with people you enjoy and respect.”

For more information about Wild West Film Fest presents: The 1152-Hour Film Festival, go to wildwestfilmfest.org.

'True Story'

"True Story," now playing at Liberty Hall, suffers from having one of the most generic names in recent memory.

The film is true story (how apropos!), adapted from a book about an accused killer (James Franco) who takes on the identity of a disgraced New York Times reporter (Jonah Hill). As expected from any film, it's not entirely true, but what is true is that it is not a comedy, despite its combination of above-the-title stars.

It's also true that it is not the David Byrne movie "True Stories" or the Clint Eastwood movie "True Crime."

"True Story" is rated R for language and some disturbing material, guaranteed not to be nearly as disturbing as "Your Highness" and "The Sitter."

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