Phoenix Art Museum hosts third annual Breakout Film Challenge screening

More than 100 guests attended the third  annual Breakout Film Challenge screening at the Phoenix Art Museum on Wednesday. The challenge is a contest that will send one filmmaker to over twenty national film festivals and one festival in France. (Brian Fore/DD)
More than 100 guests attended the third annual Breakout Film Challenge screening at the Phoenix Art Museum on Wednesday. The challenge is a contest that will send one filmmaker to over twenty national film festivals and one festival in France. (Brian Fore/DD)

A minibar and live DJ don’t usually occupy the Phoenix Art Museum, but that was the scene Wednesday night at the Cummings Great Hall as the Independent Feature Projects: Phoenix filmmakers group hosted its third annual Breakout Film Challenge screening.

More than 100 viewers attended the screening of 16 short films shot by local independent filmmakers at the museum on McDowell Road and Central Avenue to determine which film would go to the Phoenix Film Festival as well as 20 additional film festivals throughout the U.S. and one in France.

Each film team was given 10 days to shoot a short film of five minutes or less about one of eight given themes, ranging from destruction and vulnerability to passion and persistence, said Aaron Kes, co-program director for Independent Feature Projects: Phoenix.

“With the breakout challenge, we try to keep it really open-ended so that filmmakers can really just show off their skills,” Kes said.

The first-place winner for best breakout film was Third Productions’s humorous “Keep Running.”

“I don’t want to give away too much, because there’s a bit of a twist in it,” director Sean Oliver said.

The film’s story explores how a normal jog can completely change because of one random occurrence.

“We really, really wanted to see a grandma explode on screen. There was just something about that — the rest is history,” added Mike Hennessy, team actor, sound designer and key grip for the winning film.

“Keep Running” also won awards for best director and best story. The team said their inspiration came from a previous film festival where the only theme was using an ankle weight as a prop.

Coming in second place was “Flight Fright,” a satire that focused on the theme of vulnerability and won the most awards for the night, including best cinematography, best actress, best actor and best poster.

“I’m a big ‘Twilight Zone’ guy … I’ve seen every episode about 50 times,” said Jim Politano, the producer, director and writer of the film. “I wanted to do a spoof of one of my favorite ones, which was a guy on a wing, a William Shatner episode.”

In the film, a man who is nervous about his fight keeps looking out his window to see a man on the wing taking part in activities, including dancing and barbecuing. Politano said he reserved a studio in Hollywood, California, to shoot the airplane scenes. He shot the entire film in only 12 hours.

N’Raged Media’s “Playtime Strikes Back,” a film based on the destruction theme, was voted third place and was the winner of the audience award. The film’s creator Adolpho Navarro used a green screen, green suit and video effects to tell the story of abused dolls coming to life and taking revenge on their owner.

“I like to challenge myself with the stories and the effects that I do to make the stories really out of the norm,” Navarro said. “I like to go out of the boundaries of reality a lot of the time.”

The short film also won awards for best trailer and best use of a theme.

The 2015 Phoenix Film Festival will show about 120 films this year and expects an audience of over 23,000, said Jason Carney, executive director of the Phoenix Film Foundation. The festival will be open to the public and will take place from Thursday, March 26, until Thursday, April 2, at Harkins Scottsdale 101, located off Highway 101 at Mayo Boulevard and Scottsdale Road.

Contact the reporter at bfore@asu.edu.