'Casket' buries competition at first Barrington Area Local Film Festival

  • "The Casket," codirected by residents of Huntley and Elgin, won first place at the first Barrington Area Local Film Festival at the historic Catlow Theater in Barrington.

    "The Casket," codirected by residents of Huntley and Elgin, won first place at the first Barrington Area Local Film Festival at the historic Catlow Theater in Barrington.

  • Three brothers (from left, Tommy Kotek, Peter Herold and Ryan Larkin) plus an attorney (Annie Hogan) are brought together by the unusual requests in a man's will during "The Casket," first-prize winner at the first Barrington Area Local Film Festival.

    Three brothers (from left, Tommy Kotek, Peter Herold and Ryan Larkin) plus an attorney (Annie Hogan) are brought together by the unusual requests in a man's will during "The Casket," first-prize winner at the first Barrington Area Local Film Festival.

 
 

'Casket' buries competition at local fest

"The Casket," a short film from Huntley resident Danial A. Miller and Elgin resident Timothy Morgan, won first prize (and $500) at the first Barrington Area Local Film Festival on Saturday, May 20, at Barrington's historic Catlow Theater.

Miller, a Conant High School grad and former Harper College student, and Morgan codirected the domestic drama, about three estranged brothers brought together after their deceased abusive father puts in his will that the trio must work together to construct his casket.

The poignant drama -- a testament to the healing power of forgiveness -- boasts strong visual poetry from cinematographer William Nelson Jr.

Second Place and $250 went to Arlington Heights filmmaker David R. Gieliz for "Blind Encounter," a disarming vignette about a severe burn victim who strikes up an awkward conversation with a blind woman at a coffee shop. In short order, they agree on the important aspects of life.

Honorable mention went to "Wings," a powerful, one-minute short from father/son filmmakers Thomas Balsamo and Wade Balsamo of World Touch Productions, a Barrington company dedicated to improving the world through media.

Their compact short shows a woman whisking a screaming toddler into a car late at night as a man watches nearby. No names. No dialogue. Yet, we know their story the moment the woman reveals her battered face.

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The short ends on a note of hope in what amounts to be a concise, cinematic punch to the conscience.

The Balsamos were also behind the festival's only experimental entry, "Paracosm," a boldly envisioned, surrealistic mash-up of Broderick Crawford's "All the King's Men" (1949) and Edvard Munch's "The Scream." It's about a man (galvanizing Northwest suburban actor Tony Bonocore) who, as the filmmakers explain, "seeks to be loved through his rise and fall of power within the mind of the ego-self."

Twelve shorts running 30 minutes or less made the finalist list and were voted on by judges Reinhard Taylor of Barrington Hills, Carol MacCabe of Palatine and me.

The Barrington Area Local Film Festival was founded by Catlow owner Tim O'Connor and members of the Barrington Area Cultural Commission. Go to thecatlow.com.

Animation Show returns for second year

Pixar's delightful, wordless, Oscar-winning animated film short "Piper" heads the schedule of the 18th annual Animation Show of Shows from Friday, May 26, through Saturday, May 27, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Chicago. Thirteen family-friendly film shorts will be shown first, followed by four more containing adult themes. Go to siskelfilmcenter.org.

C.U.F.F. links to two premieres at Logan

The 24th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival runs Wednesday, May 31, through Sunday, June 4, and will feature Chicago-area productions on opening and closing nights at the Logan Theater, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Go to cuff.org for details and tickets.

• Dann Gire's column runs Friday in Time out!

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