13th Annual LA 3-D Movie Festival Wrap-up
3-D SPACE, Stereo Sisters, and the LA 3-D Club are pleased to announce the winners of The 13th Annual LA 3-D Movie Festival. The festival’s mission is to showcase the best independent stereoscopic 3-D filmmaking from around the world. This year’s fest took place on Dec 8th-11th, 2016 at several venues in the greater Los Angeles area. The festival featured over 20 independent 3-D short films, including 10 student produced films; the 57th Hollywood International Exhibition of Stereoscopic Photography; a live 3-D performance by multimedia artist J-Walt; a program of historical 3-D rarities featuring the US premiere of the 1954 British short HARMONY LANE, and the world premiere of the 3-D Film Archive’s digital restoration of the 1960 CinemaScope drama SEPTEMBER STORM.
The opening night of the festival, on December 8th, was co-presented with the American Cinematheque at the historic Aero Theater in Santa Monica, and featured the world premiere of the digitally restored feature film SEPTEMBER STORM. A rediscovered gem newly restored by the 3-D Film Archive through the generosity of over 300 backers on Kickstarter, SEPTEMBER STORM is a CinemaScope Stereovision adventure that plunges the viewer into the depths of the Balearic sea off the coast of Spain. Mark Stevens stars as a treasure hunter who convinces a yacht hand (Asher Dann) to take him and his cohort (Robert Strauss) on a quest for gold doubloons. They encounter many spectacles along the way: a violent storm, man-eating sharks, a deadly man o' war, but perhaps the most stunning sight of all is the bewitching model Joanne Dru who embarks on the journey with them. Director Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds, Robinson Crusoe on Mars) uses the 3-D camera to maximum effect, while hard-boiled writer W.R. Burnett (asphalt jungle Little Caesar) injects the screenplay with liberal doses of Seduction and betrayal. This was the last 3-D picture filmed in the 1950s, and the first to be released in 3-D CinemaScope. It was also the first feature to include color underwater 3-D footage, and was long considered lost until the original negative elements were located for this digital restoration. The screening also included THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPACE, a 3-D stop-motion animated short produced by Volcano Pictures in 1953, but not released until 1960, when it was retitled SPACE ATTACK and paired with SEPTEMBER STORM. This was the first time both films were seen together in over 55 years. Bob Furmanek, founder of the 3-D Film Archive, attended the show to take audience questions and explain the process that went into preserving these rare motion pictures.
The second night of the festival took place at the Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles, an L.A. cultural treasure located in the Union Cinema building, built in 1915 as one of the cities first movie theaters. This was the perfect venue for an evening of 3-D RARITIES that have been rescued and restored by the 3-D Film Archive, presented by Bob Furmanek. The program covered the origins of 3-D movies from it’s earliest days in 1922 through the 1930s and 40s, and into the 3-D Golden Age of the early 1950s. Films screened included Kelley's Plasticon Pictures, the earliest extant 3-D demonstration film from 1922 with incredible footage of Washington and New York City; New Dimensions, the first domestic full color 3-D film originally shown at the World's Fair in 1940; Thrills for You, a promotional film for the Pennsylvania Railroad; and Stardust in Your Eyes, a 1953 musical routine by night club comedian Slick Slavin, which was originally shown in theaters with the classic sci-fi movie Robot Monster. Trustin Howard, who performed in the 1950s under the stage name Slick Slavin, was a special guest at the festival screening, performing a hilarious live stand-up act for the audience. The evening culminated with the US premiere of the 1954 British 3-D film HARMONY LANE. In August 2014, this lost 3-D film was discovered buried deep in the vaults of the British Film Institute, and was restored this year by the 3-D Film Archive. Directed by Lewis Gilbert (as Byron Gill) and photographed by A.E. Jeakins in March 1953, it sat on the shelf until the end of 1954 when it was finally released flat. This delightful 27 minute short is like spending a night at the Palladium with several variety acts. They include dancing by the Jack Billings Trio; a song by the Beverley Sisters; "Swan Lake" by Svetlana Beriosova and David Paltenghi of the Sadler's Wells Ballet; precision dancing by The Television Toppers and a comedy routine with Dora Bryan and Max Bygraves. The orchestra was directed by future Hammer Studios composer, Philip Martell. The excellent stereo cinematography was the work of Brian Smith. In 1951, he directed the first live action British 3-D short in Technicolor, DISTANT THAMES/ROYAL RIVER which was a tremendous success at the Festival of Britain and the Edinburgh Film Festival. HARMONY LANE had never before been seen in its native 3-D.
On the third day of the fest, the LA 3-D Club presented the 57th Hollywood International Exhibition of Stereoscopic Photography and hosted its annual Holiday Party at the festival. The HOLLYWOOD EXHIBITION is a still photography contest sanctioned by PSA (The Photographic Society of America) featuring the best 3-D images from around the world. The juried competition presented the Gold Medal for “Best of Show” to Festung IR by Bruno Braun of Kassel, Germany. This year’s holiday party festivities included appetizers from Spitz - Home of the Döner Kebab and a main course from Howlin’ Ray’s Nashville Hot Chicken, one of LA’s most popular new restaurants, helmed by chef Johnny Zone. The party culminated in a mind-blowing live 3-D performance by Academy Award winning multimedia artist J-Walt. The show, SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA, integrates music and stereoscopic computer graphics to create immersive worlds and dreamscapes, all manipulated in real-time on the big screen.
Festival Awards were announced at the Closing Night Ceremony on Sunday, Dec 11th, by LA 3-D Movie Festival director and 3-D SPACE executive director Eric Kurland and Stereo Sisters founder Shannon Benna. Top films were selected by audience ballot and by special jury. Award winners were presented with the traditional Ro-Man trophy of the LA 3-D Movie Festival, Stereo Sisters’ Golden Mirror Trophy and an assortment of valuable prizes from festival sponsors Berezin Stereo Photography Products and the London Stereoscopic Company.
The 3-D Shorts Award winners were selected by audience ballot and were presented to three recipients. Third Place went to LA Complex - Presenting Jim Barrett by Tom Koester & Frances Bohn. This half hour documentary features LA artist Jim Barrett’s solo exhibition at bG Gallery in Bergamot station in July 2016including his massive 30-ft multi-panel work, War Complex, which speaks to the heart and mind of both the terror of war and the complexity of the human condition.
Second Place was awarded to HIDDEN WORLDS IN 3D by Robert Bloomberg. The film explains how and why we see in 3-D, then takes the audience on an amazing 3-D journey inside a snowflake, into space, and through the human heart. Robert Bloomberg was also the recipient of this year’s Ray Zone Award for Excellence in 3-DIY. Named for festival co-founder Ray “3-D” Zone, who passed away in 2012, the award celebrates what Zone described as “fiercely independent do-it-yourself 3-D filmmaking.” Bloomberg is a stereo photographer, filmmaker, musician and graphic artist whose award-winning 3-D shows have been presented worldwide.
The First Place Golden Ro-Man Trophy was presented to LITTLE RED DOT, written and directed by Chanel Samson. This music video for an original song by the band Chanel and the Circus is “a sweet little song about waiting to get your period after not practicing safe sex” presented in the form of a cabaret stage show. The video features performances filmed against a green screen and composited into backgrounds hand-painted by illustrator Katelyn McCarney. It can be viewed online, in 3-D, here.
The Special Award for Achievement in 3-D Feature Film went to TENDERNESS written by Wacław Mikłaszewski & Alina Sztoch and Directed by Wacław Mikłaszewski. This Polish production is a multi-faceted story about youth, decountrifying and attitude toward life. Filmed in native 4K 3-D in Lodz, Poland, TENDERNESS utilizes long takes and proscenium compositions to create a sense of intimacy. The feature directorial debut for Wacław Mikłaszewski, the film links his theatre and stereoscopic activities. The director was in attendance at the festival and engaged the audience in an informative Q&A session.
The Stereo Sisters Golden Mirror Award for Excellence in Student 3-D was presented to Shelby Merritt of the University of Texas - Austin's 3-D program. Her work entitled PIC tells the story of a young woman as she finds a mysterious camera in an odd shop, with the power to transform her surroundings. The short displays excellent use of color and composition to create an internal perspective, and the 3-D was a delightful compliment to that vantage point, showcasing both the diversely textured & cluttered junk shop interior, as well as the beautiful rolling vistas of Central Texas' Hill Country.