There have been so many wonderful films at this year's HollyShorts Film Festival, but the second Documentary block had some of the most moving films of this year's festival. These documentaries, while short, were incredibly powerful and very entertaining.

This year's HollyShorts Alumni block had a huge variety of different films of all genres. This selection ran the gamut between funny and scary, heartbreaking and powerful, and everything in between.

It’s impossible to talk about this movie without dealing with its considerable baggage, so let’s start unpacking.

If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw The Legend of Tarzan on opening day. I didn’t know if the CGI would be cheesy, if Alexander Skarsgård was the right choice for the lead role, if they would put Edgar Rice Burroughs’ beloved book through a wood chipper, or if Margot Robbie would get along well with the phrase “period piece.”

What would you do if you found out you were dying? Would you extend your life by any means possible? Or would you make the most of the time you had left? That’s just one of the issues raised by the short film Beautiful Dreamer which had its west coast premiere recently at Dances With Films.

When I talked with writer/director Alicia Slimmer at the Dances With Films festival about her movie, Creedmoria, she told me it was uplifting. Given the plot synopsis, it was a little difficult for me to believe. From beginning to end, the story is full of tragic events and terrible people. Even while watching the movie, at times, I wondered how a film like this could be considered uplifting, when it puts its protagonist through such hell. Yet somehow, uplifting is exactly what Creedmoria manages to be. Because the focus isn’t on the tragic events or the terrible people. The focus is on rising above those things and realizing that that’s not all life has to offer.

In recent years, there’s been a bit of a stigma against clowns. Rather than the traditional portrait of funny, friendly, silly caricatures whose main goal is to make us laugh, they’re most often portrayed as grotesque, evil monsters. I’ve never liked this hostility towards clowns, particularly since I used to perform as a clown myself, as did my mother. Fortunately, it would appear that I’m not alone in my views. Karen McPherson, the writer/director of the short film Pop, feels much the same way and said so during a Q&A at Dances With Films, where the film screened recently.

It’s the ultimate sci-fi love story. A man tells the woman he’s seeing that he’s from the future. Not only that, but the whole reason he came back in time is to be with her. He saw a picture or a glimpse of a woman from years ago and fell so in love with her that he gave up his life in the future and traveled back in time just to win her heart. Variations on this theme have been done in movies ranging from Terminator to the highly underrated Happy Accidents. It’s also the plot of the short film Future Boyfriend which had its west coast premiere recently at Dances With Films—only with a slightly different twist on things.

After hearing about the animated film, Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery, my initial reaction was to wonder how it has taken 40 years for this team-up to happen. One is a group of colorful characters who have been entertaining children of all ages for generations, and the other is a marketing juggernaut that has become one of the most iconic brands around . . . I will let you decide which one is which.

It’s that time of year again. I am very lucky to say I’ll be attending Sundance for the 4th time! Every year I have been able to attend, there have been surprises.  Whether it’s a film with an unknown director and cast breaking out, as in Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Kevin Smith picketing his own movie when Red State premiered, and everything in-between, indie movies have the chance to light up Park City with unexpected buzz. New filmmakers and actors have a chance to step into the spotlight, and movies that would otherwise never make it to a wide audience have a chance to obtain distribution, whether that’s through traditional markets or newer markets, such as Netflix.

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