The 2018 Perennial Film Festival concluded with many leaving with great memories and plenty of good things to say about the first Perennial Film Festival. It was an incredible weekend headlined by “The Free Agent Fan,” Michael Volpe, and his son, who produced the documentary, “Michael Volpe: The Free Agent Fan.” In attendance were other members of the Volpe family who were so wonderful and delightful with fans over the weekend. The family celebrated Michael Volpe’s birthday at the River City Grill Saturday Night after the festival concluded with Perennial Festival Director, Ryan Sharp, and his wife.
Another headliner of the event was Ernie Berger, professional animator, who produced a wonderful short animation called “Swijwonk” about a character dealing with a package he receives requiring “Some Assembly.” Something we all can relate to. Berger said the inspiration for the film came from buying something at Ikea and seeing the words, “Some Assembly Required” and having a nightmare putting the item together.
Friday night, March 23rd, began with the Welcome Gala and featured faith-based film, “The Coming Convergence,” the winner of 26 previous film festival awards from around the world.
Saturday, doors opened at noon and the first film, “Western Jubilee” by Filmmaker Donna Guthrie started the day. Her film, about a long running country music show, was accepted as a senior film. Perennial offers seniors (70 plus) discounts for submitting their films as well as student filmmakers because Sharp says, “everyone should have dreams and never give up on them. We encourage that.”
The festival emphasized audience interaction and discussion, and encouraged open questions, comments, and dialogue with the filmmakers and each other. Many who attended commented positively about their experience. Attendees were also directly responsible for the award winners who were recognized Sunday evening, March 25th, during the awards ceremony. Attendees were encouraged to cast ballots for their favorite films and to comment about why “they chose the film they chose.” No filmmakers or connected audience members were permitted to cast ballots. The festival honored the winners in each film category and best overall film, which went to Michael Volpe: The Free Agent Fan. Best short short went to student filmmaker Roman Sotelo for “Grief” about a man preparing to die in the final moments of his life. Sotelo, born in the Philippines, was amazed and thrilled to hear the news. Sotelo and Sharp have agreed to work together on some future projects. Sharp’s film, “The Disloyal,” and Kerry Everett’s Film, “Giving Christmas,” tied for best short. Giving Christmas was a very light hearted fun film about giving to the homeless. In stylistic contrast, Sharp’s film was based on a real nightmare Sharp experienced one terrifying night. “It is about the emotional impact and horror that we feel when someone rejects us over and over or says they’ll do something when we desperately need help and then don’t show up.”
Sharp; an avid fan of early 1970s psychological horror films, science fiction, and character dramas; wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film with his best friend, Donald Anude, an immigrant from Nigeria; his wife, Elisha Sharp; and his father, Larry Sharp. Sharp’s oldest nephew, Chase Elliott, a professional filmmaker at 18 who currently works for ESPN and produces wedding films and commercials did the camera work, foley, and editing while Sharp’s younger nephew, Kass Elliott, performed as a grip, boom operator, and still photographer. The events ran until roughly 9pm. There were only 4 seats remaining for Saturdays events. Twelve films in various genres, dealing with various topics, and in various running times were shown in all.