Arts + Entertainment

The Super Gr8 Film Festival Returns Next Week

Super Gr8 Film Festival 2012 logo. Designed by artist, graphic designer, and filmmaker Chris Whitmore.

The Super Gr8 Film Festival, coming up next Monday through Wednesday, November 12-14, at the Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater, is an annual occurrence in Harrisonburg. At the core of Super Gr8 is the belief that, and illustration of how, the people in this area are packed with talent, abilities, and creative forces. Each year, Super Gr8 hands out single cartridges of Super 8 film and Super 8 cameras to dozens of people. This year, over fifty people signed up at the festival’s registration night, thus filling every slot in the festival in one fell swoop. It was amazing to see that kind of energy.

Over a two-month period this fall, filmmakers worked on the creation of their films. They conceived ideas, wrote scripts, designed sets, cast and directed actors, and filmed their finished products.

A still photo from the set of Ivan Christo’s film, “Jaguardini’s Electric Jesus,” for this year’s festival. Photo by Briana Carper.

A number of filmmakers also collaborated with other artists, worked with composers and musicians to create original scores, and designed posters that will be on display during the festival to tease the audiences as they filter into the theater. Many people have become involved in this Gr8 snowball of creativity.

Super Gr8 2012 is sure to be like the festival’s previous two years, hosting a packed house with people “ooing” and “ahing” as they watch the films made by brilliant people in this community, some of whom have never made a film before.

Crowds gather, in a line that wound outside and around the building, in anticipation of the Super Gr8 Film Festival 2011. Photo by Paul Somers.

The Super Gr8 Film Festival creates a dynamic where anyone can successfully make a film, and the organizers, Tim Estep and myself (Paul Somers), go to Gr8 lengths to teach people how to use the cameras and the film. The result is nothing short of marvelous.

A still from “Electric Probaphobia,” a film by Teale Davies at last year’s festival. Photo by Teale Davies.

Super Gr8 takes the old Super 8 film format and cameras and gives them new life. Even cameras that are were once used for the festival but now deemed unfixable are handed over to artist Elliott Downs to make 11 “Gr8ties,” which are awarded to the best filmmakers, cinematographers, composers, and actors of the festival.

Filmmaker Brent Finnegan, and the subject of his film, Drew Johnson, accept a “Gr8ty” award for Brent’s film, “Drew,” as festival co-organizer Tim Estep looks on, at last year’s festival. Photo by Lynn Lough.

The beautiful motion, soft look, dense colors, and homemade feel of Super 8 film is at once nostalgic and simply beautiful and we encourage everyone to come see it for themselves.

The opening night of this year’s festival is next Monday, November 12th, kicking off at the Blue Nile from 4:00-6:00 pm, where filmmakers, sponsors, and fans can mingle and talk about the films and their expectations. Then, at 6:30 pm, Court Square Theater will host a presentation by event sponsor and film processor Pro8mm from California on the “Power of Super 8.” Tim and I will also discuss the festival and show films from previous years.

Tuesday, November 13th, will be the Black and White Night, starting at 6:30 pm. All the films made on black and white Kodak stock will be shown. Following the screening will be an after-party and awards ceremony at the Blue Nile’s basement, with DJ Cornbread spinning vinyl with his masterful touch.

Wednesday, November 14th, is the Color Night, also starting at 6:30 pm. All films made on color Kodak stock will be shown, after which Super Gr8 will host the final after-party and awards ceremony at The Artful Dodger, with DJ Real Gone spinning classic vinyl.

Filmmaker Jeremiah Jenkins on set shooting actress Susan Comfort for his film, “The Return of Walter James,” for this year’s festival. Photo by Paul Somers.

Come and partake in the festivities! It’ll be Super Gr8!

Want to learn more? Check out the Super Gr8 website at for more information and to purchase tickets. And be sure to “like” us on Facebook!

Paul Somers is an artist, poet, and co-founder of the Super Gr8 Film Festival.


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