Sundial Film Festival Celebrates 10 Years
● By Jon Lewis
By Jon Lewis
Photos by Nigel Skeet
FOR STUDENT ATHLETES, there’s always the big game against the cross-town rival or possibly the playoffs. For kids focusing on graphic arts, however, those kinds of competitive opportunities just aren’t there.
All of which is why Ben Keeline, a teacher at Cottonwood Creek Charter School, calls the Sundial Film Festival “a total godsend.”
The festival, now in its 10th year and scheduled for Saturday, March 24, at the Cascade Theatre, is produced by the Active 20-30 Club of Redding to showcase the talents of local filmmakers. Festival rules only require that eligible films be associated with the North State, either by their subject, location or having a member of the cast or crew residing in the area.
That latitude allows Keeline to submit animated movies created as a class project by his graphic design students. Keeline added an international flair to “Split,” a 15-minute animated fairy tale, by collaborating with fifth- and sixth-grade students at a grade school in Ireland. The Cottonwood kids wrote the screenplay and produced the film; students at Bohermeen National School in County Meath, a parish located about an hour northwest of Dublin, provided the authentic Irish dialogue.
The first half of the film was entered last year and picked up a trophy and a $500 award for the best local school
production. The completed film, which drew rave reviews in both Tehama County and County Meath, was submitted for this month’s festival.
“The Sundial Film Festival has been tremendous for us,” Keeline says. “We couldn’t have planned anything better. It gives the kids a focus and momentum to have their film seen on a big screen in the big city. The festival provided a focus and a challenge to help kids rise to a level as a team and to feel the unity or competitive spirit that graphic artists don’t really experience.
“The Active 20-30 Club does an awesome job of presentation. They’re very professional. We’re very grateful to the Sundial for sure,” Keeline says. The collaborative process motivated Keeline to launch Project Spark Studio, a nonprofit intended “to go after grants to get the hardware and software needed so kids can access the technology out there, communicate with each other, tell a story and build relationships.” In time, a virtual studio could link schools around the world, Keeline says.
That kind of creative engagement with the film industry is one of the goals of the Sundial Film Festival, says Active 20-30 Club member Kevin Adcock, who is chairing this year’s festival. “What I really like about the festival is it gives filmmakers and people who want to be involved in film an opportunity to showcase what they’ve worked on,” Adcock says.
Another objective is to foster film production in the area and dispel the notion that filmmaking is inextricably tied to Hollywood. Adcock notes that Eric Jacobus, a Redding native, has fashioned a nice career as a stuntman, producer and actor. Besides, Adcock says, promoting a regional film industry also promotes the North State itself.
The festival is the principal fundraiser for the Active 20-30 Club of Redding, and proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction allow club members to treat children from low-income families to a day of back-to-school shopping that includes new shoes, a new backpack and eye and dental exams. Eliah Irvin, the chair of last year’s festival, says club members took 45 kids shopping last fall.
Irvin enjoys the teamwork involved in putting on the daylong festival and an invite-only gala, complete with a red carpet, for participating filmmakers and festival sponsors. “It’s fun to see them come together.”
As one of the organizers, Matt Brockman enjoys the opportunity to meet the filmmakers who have the courage and creativity to share their stories with audiences around the world. “Some of their films come from places deep inside them,” he says. “It’s just really cool.”
To be accepted for judging in the narrative, documentary and animation categories, films can be no longer than 20 minutes. A panel of judges from the Los Angeles Film Studies Center will award a trophy and a $1,000 prize for Best of Festival and a medallion and $500 each for Best Narrative, Best Documentary and Best Animation.
Audience members will select the People’s Choice Award, which includes a $100 prize and a festival medallion. Last year’s winner was Susan Butchko Echard’s “Exodus Farms,” a documentary about a ranch in Anderson that uses rehabilitated horses to work with troubled children. •
Sundial Film Festival
March 24, 1 pm and 7 pm, Cascade Theatre
Tickets: $8 for afternoon screening, $18 for evening event, $20 for all-day festival pass