The winner of the first Holliston Film Festival, hosted January 31, was Her Name Was Emily by HHS junior Kya Allen. Emily is a surrealistic horror film in which the titular protagonist wanders around a nightmare version of Holliston High School, and occasionally a forest and a pool. Emily contains some of the most striking images of any film in the festival- my favorite was of faces barely perceptible behind the glass display cases in the lobby.
Second place, and the award for audience favorite, went to Spring is Here by Javier Rojo, bar none, the most beautiful film in the festival. Spring is a music video, with RAMS student Amaia O’Brien singing “Spring is Here” over piano by Mark McNeill. Rojo’s shots of nature (with locations in Holliston, Boston, and Cape Cod) are absolutely gorgeous.
Third place was a tie between Tiles, by Jack McMannus and Jacob Metzger, and Pinball Wizard, by Nolan Murphy. Tiles is a documentary about competitive Scrabble player and Millis High School teacher Stephen Bigelow. Wizard tells the story of a young pinball player (Murphy) who is challenged by the Pinball Wizard (Joshua Perlmutter, also one of the creators of the festival) to a game- whoever loses must give up pinball forever. Wizard is full of energy, style, and humor, and Murphy and Perlmutter give it their all.
My personal favorite film of the festival was Silence Kills by Elizabeth O’Neill. A murder mystery told entirely without dialogue. It is short but tight, and it’s this tightness that sells it. Silence never overemphasizes its ominous atmosphere, its riffs on detective stories, or its no-dialogue gimmick. Other favorites of mine from the festival include The Christmas Letter, a LEGO stop-motion film by Jack Scaramella, Wildest Things in the World, a bizarre satire of survival TV shows by Ben Cappello (I’d seen this film twice before, but found myself laughing more than before on the big screen), and Try-Hard, a parody of high school “try-hards” by Kate Healy.
There were about fifty people at the festival. The Destination ImagiNation team that ran the event considered it a success. They are considering a second festival, but “nothing is set in stone,” says DI member Joshua Perlmutter. DI member James Crews adds that “lots of effort went into [the festival].” Michael Taylor, creator of one of the films that showed at the festival, says it was “nice for other people to see my work.”
Full list of the films that showed at the festival:
Spring is Here By Javier Rojo
Jessie’s Curse by Olivia Skerry
The Christmas Letter by Jack Scaramella
Pinball Wizard by Nolan Murphy
Wildest Things in the World by Benjamin Cappello
Fire Safety by Maggie Stefanowitz and Madeline Pudelka
Anna DiBona by Sabrina DiBona
Tiles by Jack McMannus and Jacob Metzger
Environmental Science by Katrina Garrity
Try-Hard by Kate Healy
Skyfail by Kit Nhl
Silence Kills by Elizabeth O’Neill
Her Name Was Emily by Kyra Allen
Baker Street by Michael Taylor
Although many great films were shown, the set is not currently available online for public viewing.