The Year in Lexington Film
by Justin Hannah
It’s been a year full of interesting local film events, and screenings of films by extremely talented Lexington-area filmmakers. The response has been so enthusiastic, it’s clear there’s a real community of people interested in Kentucky stories by Kentucky filmmakers.
I hosted two Short Film Nights at Natasha’s Bistro and Bar, where we screened 11 excellent short films by Lexington-area filmmakers. The first one, held in January, sold out the venue, and the second one, held in September as part of Filmslang 2013, very nearly did. My own film, Consignment, premiered at the first Short Film Night and has gone on to play from North Carolina to California, and has won a few awards.
Three feature-length films by Lexington filmmakers premiered in town this year: the drama Red River Moon by Bruce Barnett, the dark comedy Toast by Grayson Tyler Johnson, and the documentary Body Maps by Thom Southerland. Red River Moon had a sold-out premiere at the Kentucky Theatre (they had to add an encore showing later). Red River Moon and Toast have both since gone on to play in festivals and showings outside of the state; Body Maps is now airing on PBS. The Last Gospel of the Pagan Babies, Jean Donohue’s documentary (spanning decades of Lexington’s gay culture), premiered December 5 at the Kentucky.
The third annual Harry Dean Stanton Fest was held May 30 through June 2, with films showing at the Kentucky Theatre, Triangle Park, Natasha’s Bistro & Bar and the Farish Theater at the Lexington Public Library. This event is growing each year, and in my view, this year’s Fest was the best one so far, with a showing of David Lynch’s Wild at Heart and a special guest speaker Crispin Glover. They also screened the wonderful documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, which hadn’t officially premiered yet. The folks at Lexington Film League knocked this one out of the park.
Lexington Film League also organized FilmSlang 2013 the week of September 13-17, a sort of sister-event to Lexington’s Boomslang. That event included two great quirky documentaries, an even quirkier mockumentary, a Pecha Kucha-style filmmaker meetup, a screening of local music videos, and my second Short Film Night at Natasha’s.
In addition to all that, the Farish Theater at the Lexington Public Library has been showing interesting independent and classic films throughout the year, as has Al’s Bar, through their “Cult Series at Al’s Bar” (the movies at Al’s Bar are usually a bit weirder). Both these events are free, and give Lexingtonians a chance to experience films that they might never even know about otherwise.
There is a film scene growing in Lexington. I think we have so many talented and passionate people, doing so many interesting things in isolation, that it’s really just a matter of bringing these people together. I think that process started this year, and will hopefully keep growing into 2014.
One big thing I’m looking forward to in 2014 is They’s No Place Like Home: the Ballad of Rob and Ova, the feature-length film by Jeremy Midkiff and Jonathan Moore featuring their characters Rob and Ova from the short film Age/Sex/Location. Their mockumentary played at the first Short Film Night at Natasha’s, and the reaction was so great that they decided to put together an Indiegogo, which helped them fund a full-length film. I can’t wait to see it this spring.
This article also appears on page 14 of the 12.12.2013 print edition of Ace. Click to subscribe to the Ace digital e-dition as well, and get all of Lexington’s arts, music, entertainment and film news delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.