Just Shoot Me

Organizing a film festival can be like death by 1,000 jump cuts.

Bernadette Gillota shakes her head as she talks about some of the 350 movies she had to screen for the Ohio Independent Film Festival. Some were too grainy; others had audio she could barely hear. She blames the third-rate cheesiness on mini-DVD cameras. "They're the death of us all," she groans. "You buy the camera at Best Buy. You buy the editing software at Best Buy. You go home, print your business cards, and you're a filmmaker."

Take note, if you ever want to enter the flickfest Gillota co-founded 11 years ago. "The digital-photography thing has made people lazy," she says. "Because the camera picks up an image, even if you don't have a light lit. But people do it, even though it looks like crap."

This summer, Gillota and her committee weeded through the yawners to select 21 features and 88 shorts. The fest opens Monday with the Ohio premiere of Noise, a thriller starring former Brat Packer Ally Sheedy as a recovering alcoholic with a sociopathic neighbor. "I thought she was making lesbian porno flicks," jokes Gillota. "But I guess not."

On Thursday, November 11, most of the screenings are devoted to 21 of the shorts, including Cleveland director Johnny Wu's The Chase, about a stalker hunting down his prey in an abandoned building.

"It's stuff we've agonized over choosing," says Gillota. "A lot of them make the [film festival] circuit, and some of them are gems you'll only see here."

The ones that didn't make the cut will never see the light of day, if Gillota has anything to say about it. Like the five movies about Bigfoot submitted this year. Or the numerous flicks set in frat houses. "I don't know how many more films I'm going to have to watch in my life about 22-year-old, angst-ridden boys in college masturbating, getting drunk, and throwing up," sighs Gillota. "I'm waiting for that to run its course."