$99 Specials

Posted January 26, 2010 in

The $99 Specials represent the marrow of Slamdance—the very pith, I say. To produce a film for no more than $99 in 99 days or less is . . . damn hard.  It’s the kind of thing you just can’t do for any reason other than the love. Profit’s not an option, which, of course, is entirely the point. This year’s selection of shorts is equally heartwarming, hilarious, puzzling, and as always, exceptionally lo-fi.  


Maisy Makes a Movie

Director: Heidi Van Lier

Maisy Makes a Movie takes us into the world of filmmaker Heidi Van Lier’s young daughter Maisy, who’s budding passion for directing and adorable mannerisms stole the show.  The piece was two parts: a covert documentary of Maisy writing, producing, and directing her own film, followed by the film itself, “The Secret Love Crush.”  The finished product was touching and fun and surprisingly mature. 

slamdance film guide

Hey Vendor

Director: Matthew Harrison

This film’s script is a Slamdance Short Screenplay Contest winner.  This enjoyable comedy is a lighthearted mix of pretzel buying and dividing by zero.  Hero Mike finds himself caught in a bit of a space/time pinch that creates fun and well-timed comedic repetition for us, and some knee slapping confusion for Mike.  In Q&A the director mentioned that the script had at one point been twice as involved and complicated as the finished product—a shame, I felt, as I could’ve easily watched plenty more of Hey Vendor.

-Jesse Hawlish

This short screened along with “And Everything Is Going Fine,” the Soderbergh-directed documentary. This pairing didn’t necessarily make sense, but sometimes they don’t. That has nothing to do with the quality of the film, which was pretty good. It was a “$99 Special” short described as having a “pretzel-like plot.” If the budget had been explained before the film (or I had read the Slamdance handbook beforehand) it might make a bit more sense, as it was a pretty short film with a small cast. Given the constraints it was sufficient.


slamdance film guide


Director: David Yudelman 


Called Witness, Surfer, and the Taliban of Afghanistan, or some approximation of such on the title screen, this piece is an enjoyable but wholly confusing affair.  A series of unconnected citizens stand in front of a burnt out car and postulate, in their individual and varied ways, on the history and mystery of the charred remains.  Each interviewee is interesting, but the subject and theme of the car seems so arbitrary, so totally unexplained, that I spent much of the runtime wondering why we were wondering about the car.  

 slamdance film guide


 Jesse Hawlish

Screening Times:

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 10:00 am - Technicolor Gallery