7/17: Who’s Got Short Shorts?

Gabrielle Locre’s animation UN PETIT OISEAU, UN PETIT POISSON is among the international celluloid sliders served up by the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council, when the fourth annual edition of FilmOneFest docks at the picturesque marina this Saturday, July 21. 

It’s been said before, but…give them a minute, they’ll give you the world.

Just one night after the band that brought us the 1950s hit “Short Shorts” (Jersey’s own Royal Teens) plays a one-nighter here on the Upper Wet Side, the people who REALLY got the short-shorts return to Atlantic Highlands with the year’s most corny/cool event in the Bayshore burg — FilmOneFest.

Subtitled The Atlantic Highlands One-Minute Film Festival, the fourth annual international smorgasbord of succinct cinema takes over the waterfront walkways of the panoramically picturesque Municipal Harbor this Saturday, July 21. Presented by the nonprofit Atlantic Highlands Arts Council, it’s a program that, despite its being made up of dozens of “gone in sixty seconds” nuggets, lasts for a big chunk of Saturday and a bit of Sunday as well.

A surprisingly eclectic collection of live-action and animated works from all over the world — the majority of them made specifically for this event — FoF combines a sophisticated festival-circuit vibe with a family friendly, small-town, park-gazebo quality that makes it a thing quite unique to Atlantic Highlands (hence the “corny/cool” part).

The event gets underway as early as 10am, with a daylong Craft Fair at Memorial Park and First Avenue — then after a late afternoon/ early evening break, the festival gets going in earnest with a 7pm set of live music by Sibling Rivalry, that brother-sister act from the ninth circle of Howell (distant relatives of Ethel Merman, yet!) who, their name aside, play very nicely together. They’ll be joined by the now-traditional clowns, stilt walkers and other carnival-style diversions (including a surprise happening about which we are sworn to secrecy) in an event for which bring-your-own-lawnchair admission is FREE (although there’s a preferred-seating VIP option available for a 10 dollar donation).

Before moving to our current digs in Asbury Park, we lived for nearly a decade in Atlantic Highlands — an under-appreciated place of spectacular bayside views, wooded trails and truly awesome Victorian homes that remains one of the most inspiring AND challenging walking towns on the local map. Still, the steep terrain has nothing on the uphill battle waged by the all-volunteer AHAC, a skin-of-its-teeth organization that’s worked extraordinarily hard to put this hamlet full of best-kept-secrets on the local cultural radar.

Co-created and curated by video artist/ painter Robert O’Connor and AHAC president Julie Gartenberg, FilmOneFest is dedicated exclusively to works that “capture the essence of an artist’s vision in just 60 seconds, and allow creative filmmakers to share their talents with simple and inexpensive equipment.” More than 50 entries — chosen from hundreds of submissions — compete in several different categories, with the hour-long hour-long screening program climaxing with the award winners. The judging panel of film critics, historians and industry professionals includes returnees like TruTV producer Jon Crowley, online critic Joan Ellis, music editor Gedney Webb and film historian Victor Zak — joined this year by production manager Carol Cuddy (Men in Black 3) and film editor Susan Littenberg (Easy A).

O’Connor and Gartenberg will single out one of the entries for their annual Director’s Choice Award — and all awards will be handed out at an 11am reception on Sunday, July 22, hosted inside the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society’s splendid headquarters at the historic hilltop Strauss Mansion (27 Prospect Circle). UpperWETside asked O’Connor if he “had a minute” to hep us on this year’s Fest.

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FilmOneFest: Back in 60 Seconds

Who’s got Short Shorts? THE INQUISITIVE SNAIL by Canadian claymationer Sara Schmidt is one of the succinct slices of cinema vying for honors at the third annual FilmOneFest event, going on Saturday, July 16 in Atlantic Highlands. 

It’s the cultural high point of the year, there in the bucolic bayfront borough that’s been branded “The Jewel of the Bayshore.” A pleasantly perfect matchup of (outdoor) setting and (way-out) subject matter, unlike anything offered elsewhere around the Upper Wet Side. And, given the amount of hard work that goes into getting it together, it all seems to be over in the blink of an eye.

That’s just the nature of the “Short-Short” film — a format that filmmaking pro and video artist Robert O’Connor characterizes as “the future…they capture the essence of an artist’s vision in just 60 seconds, and allow creative filmmakers to share their talents with simple and inexpensive equipment.”

This Saturday, July 16 and for the third consecutive year, O’Connor and event co-producer Julie Gartenberg are devoting countless hours of their lives to the precious minutes of FilmOneFest, an open-air free festival showcasing the work of a diverse lot of people with cameras and computers —  both seasoned pros and weekend warriors, hailing everywhere from the Bayshore to the Balkans. More than simply an hour of succinct cinema on an inflatable screen, the Fest is the centerpiece to an afternoon and evening that offers up live entertainment, food, vendors and family-friendly activities, amid the gently bobbing boats and singing seagulls of the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina on Sandy Hook Bay. Throw in free popcorn and bev, plus a complimentary sunset in there somewheres, and you’ve got yourself a small-town hoedown, with just enough of an edge to keep it within sight of the winking lights of Manhattan.

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