Submitted by Armando P. Ibáñez, O.P. (Festival Director)
March 12, 2020 – Blazing Sun Independent Film Shorts Festival awarded its highest honor—the Poetic Pearl Award—to seven film shorts, five foreign films and two from the United States, which were among 16 films screened March 4-5 at Rio 7 Cinema-Kingsville.
“All the films that we screened at the movie theater received the festival’s Award of Excellence,” said Armando P. Ibáñez, O.P., friar of the Southern Dominican Province, founding Festival Director and director of Radio-Television-Film at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, which launched the festival in partnership with the TAMUK Film Society and in association with the Department of Art, Communication and Theater and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The festival received a total of 49 film shorts, 29 from the United States and 20 from abroad, including from New Zealand, Canada, India, Egypt, Qatar, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation and Iran.
“Our festival is a celebration of the poetic moment and, as such, is not a competition that pits films against each other. Rather our festival is about discovering the poetic moment or moments in a given film short, which we recognize as the inherent pearl or pearls. These films may be awarded the Poetic Pearl Award, our highest honor,” Ibanez said, adding that the festival also bestowed two other honors—Award of Excellence and Award of Merit.
“The moment in a film may be a look, a kiss, a quirky smile, an emerging plant in the aftermath of a fire, or something in the frame seemingly small but is gigantic in meaning to the story. In short, it is poetic,” said Ibanez, who teaches filmmaking.
“Blazing Sun’s mission is to discover and celebrate independent films, and, in so doing, promote excellence and innovation in film storytelling.”
One of the Film Festival Judges, Joe O. Barrera said: “I am absolutely awed at the caliber of films submitted to the festival.” Barrera was listed by the Hollywood Reporter in its Who’s Who in Composing Film & Television Music Special Issue. “This festival has been inspiring and a very positive experience for me.”
The other two Film Festival Judges were: Michelle Macau, a professional actor, theatre director, producer, educator and MFA graduate of Carnegie Mellon University; and Vira Montes, a professional actor, served as a member of the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Motion Picture Nominating Committee and has appeared as a guest star in a number of television shows and films, including in American ME, directed by Edward James Olmos. TAMUK Organizing Committee festival judges were: Dr. Manuel Flores, Dr. Susan L. Roberson and Ibanez. Dr. Patrick W. Faherty also served in the Organizing Committee.
Blazing Sun was sponsored by Pluma Pictures, Inc.—which is headed by Ibáñez, and whose board includes two other Dominican friars, fr Bruce Schultz, O.P., Southern Province, and Christopher Renz, O.P., of the Western Dominican Province. Other Pluma board members are Dr. Thomas Hedberg, Dr. Erlinda Eustaquio-Grey and Ned Greene, all of Los Angeles, Dr. James Moises, New Orleans, and Michael Paz, Destrehan. Other sponsors are: Rio 7 Cinema-Kingsville, where the films were screened, Kleberg Bank, Araark and City of Kingsville Tourism Department.
The Poetic Pearl Award recipients are:
Pearl Award Recipients
- Mandala– Animation, Nepal – Writer-Producer-Director Kiran Bhakta Joshi. Storyline: This animated short film is about the impermanence of things. Once a Mandala is completed, it is brushed away—never to exist again. “For what is life but a brief moment of beauty—only to be wiped away to create something new.”
- Little Hearts – Documentary, United Kingdom – Producer: Rebecca Spencer and Director: Richard Higson. Storyline: A team of volunteer surgeons travel to Sudan to perform free life-saving heart operations on children.
- Slaughter – Narrative, Iran, Islamic Republic of – Writer-Producer-Directors: Hosseinpuor and Ako Zandkarimi. Storyline: Ghasem is formed to sell his family’s cow in order to survive a hard winter in their village. His son, however, who’s very attached to the cow, runs away with the animal, which forces his father to chase after them, igniting a series of conflicts. Ultimately, Ghasem faces a harsh dilemma.
- Under the Blade – Narrative, Iran, Islamic Republic of – Writer-Producer-Director: Javid Farahani. Storyline: A film director needs to shoot a scene depicting a rape in order to complete her film, but her actors and crew refuse to take part in filming the scene for fear of reprisals by religious and governmental leaders because filming fictionalized rape scenes are taboo.
- Never Say Never Say Never – Narrative, United Arab Emirates – is a poem-film interpretation of a poem written by Patrick Errington. The film short is about a couple’s struggle with letting go of their relationship, illustrated in a poignant dance between light and shadows. They must, but do they really want to?
- Through the breeze – Narrative, USA – Writer-Producer-Director: Mohsen Emaminouri. This film is based on a poem by the renowned Iranian poet Ahmad Shamloo from his collection of poetry Odes for the Earth. Storyline: The film focuses on the encounter of two disillusioned lovers, Zamin (Earth) and Ensan (Human) in the city of San Francisco. Recalling the misadventures of their ancient relationship with an enduring love, they come to terms with their bitter-sweet past and the unfolding realization of how centuries of reckless human actions has led to irreversible damage, leaving Zamin on the path of destruction.
- Stari Grad (Old Town) – Narrative, USA – Writer-Director: Jack Beck and Producer: Barbara Beros. This film is about a fable set in Old Town, Dubrovnik, Croatia. A boy hiding from artillery fire, makes a wish for peace, causing unexpected results.