Boston’s film scene is a curious animal. The filmmakers are here; every year, hundreds (if not thousands) of aspiring filmmakers enroll at Emerson College, MassArt, and other schools with thriving film programs, with countless others toiling in the margins. We’ve got no shortage of independent film venues, either, as the very existence of Film Flam will testify. And yet, somehow, there’s no apparatus in place to regularly screen local filmmakers’ work. Perhaps blame Boston’s stigma as a third city in the industry, where serious film students are expected to spirit their diplomas to New York or LA. Or just blame the mundane truth that apparatuses are really difficult to set up.
Fortunately, there has been an increasing effort among local cineastes to step up to the challenge. For the past three years, Rene Dongo, Jared Katsiane, and Chu Huang have curated Home Grown Shorts, an annual exhibition of some of the most exciting short films to come out of New England. To celebrate the festival’s third installment (which will be playing tonight at Make Shift Boston), I reached out to the masterminds to get a better idea of what Home Grown is all about.
BOSTON HASSLE: How did the Home Grown Shorts festival come to be?
HOME GROWN SHORTS: Three years ago we felt there was a void in the local film-screening scene for locally produced short films. Other than the occasional festival slot, college screenings for students, or the Balagan series for experimental work, we thought there wasn’t a consistent series for all genres and accessible to all by not charging a submission fee.
BH: What is the show’s mission statement?
HGS: Home Grown Shorts seeks to screen ambitious, challenging work of all genres ten minutes and under by Boston-area film and video artists, from first-time filmmakers to professional media makers.
BH: What sorts of submissions do you typically see?
HGS: We see a wide variety of all genres, from music videos, animation, experimental documentary, traditional documentary, narrative, sketch comedies, political pieces…
BH: What is the typical age range of filmmakers showcased?
HGS: This year one of the filmmakers is an eleventh-grade student, and the oldest may be in their late 20s or early 30s. However, the submissions came from filmmakers spanning a large range, up to filmmakers in their 60s.
BH: What can one expect from this year’s lineup?
HGS: There is a wide range of work, from two to ten minutes, serious to humorous, and all genres represented. This year the majority of the filmmakers are women (eight of thirteen) and several filmmakers are students.