Shawna Shea Film Festival to wrap up on Saturday

Awards ceremony set for 10 p.m. at starlite

By Patrick Bracken
Citizen Chronicle Entertainment Writer

SOUTHBRIDGE — The Shawna Shea film festival closes with its most jam-packed and varied day yet.  The Ruth Wells Center for the Arts presents an afternoon of fascinating experimental films, and Starlite has something for everyone — even the kids!  It all culminates with an awards ceremony and celebration at 10 p.m.  Here’s what to expect on Saturday:

Screenings at the The Ruth Wells Center for the Arts (111 Main Street, Southbridge)

Experimental Shorts Program — 12 p.m.

In a perfect match of venue and style, the Ruth Wells Center for the Arts hosts a screening of experimental short films.  These films often forego traditional narrative structure and instead play with the conventions of film itself.  The program begins with Re|Cord, a stunning work that  its creator Alecia Batson calls an art installation.  Also included among the 11 shorts is Before Jellyfish Nebula, which uses color and sound to connect the earthly with the profound, and Tiny Clones, a hilarious and disturbing story about a man who makes little copies of himself.

Bent on Somnolence — 3:30 p.m.

Somnolence is the state of feeling drowsy and ready for sleep.  The final Arts Center screening is about a depressed and lonely man who can’t sleep.  It tells the story of his journey back to the man he used to be before he had to deal with the realities of life and his “hamster wheel” job.  Filled with striking images and thought-provoking ideas, Bent on Somnolence is an ideal way to close out the Arts Center portion of the Festival.

Screenings at starlite (39 Hamilton Street, Southbridge)

Family Time!  The Ugly Caterpillar and The Little Wizards of Oz — 12 p.m.

Bring the kids down to Starlite for this block of family-friendly films.  The short The Ugly Caterpillar, produced by the Multimedia Communications Class of 2019 at Blackstone Regional Technical Vocational School in Upton, is a beautiful stop-motion animated story about a caterpillar who dreams of becoming a butterfly.  The Little Wizards of Oz (In Italian, with English subtitles) is a unique retelling of the classic story.  Directed by veteran director Luigi Cozzi (Hercules, Starcrash) the film tells the story of the Wizard of Oz through the eyes of a class of elementary students who begin to imagine it as their substitute teacher reads the book aloud to them.  Full of the kind of eye-popping visuals for which the director is famous, The Little Wizards of Oz is perfect for any age (as long as they can tolerate the subtitles).

Horror Shorts — 2:30 p.m.

Now send the kids home to the babysitter and stay for this collection of 12 violent and terrifying shorts.  Films include I Want You to Know, a taut four minutes about a woman with a secret in her basement; Beneath, first time director Lindsey Serrano’s tale of a woman who plans the ultimate revenge when her boyfriend posts an intimate video online; and Jasper Tales, a hilarious animated collaboration between filmmaker Michael Neel and his 4-year-old son Jasper.

Survival of the Film Freaks — 5 p.m.

This feature-length documentary is a feast for lovers of b-movies and cult cinema.  Featuring a ton of film clips and interviews with celebrities from the world of low-budget filmmaking, Survival of the Film Freaks traces the rise of cult horror from the 1970’s through today.  Along the way it touches on how grindhouse cinema, Laserdisc, cable television, VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray all contributed to the rising popularity of the art form.  Co-directors Bill Fulkerson and Kyle Kuchta created an enormously entertaining homage to underground cinema; highly recommended for anyone who ever spent time in the horror section of their local video store.

Short films — 7:30 p.m.

The festival concludes with another excellent set of short films.  Miriam Olken’s Smile is an extremely topical look at the kinds of comments women must deal with daily.  Alone in a Paradise is a tense, tragic story of a drug deal gone horribly wrong when some long-buried secrets are revealed.  And Imposter is one of the highlights of the Festival, using a unique storytelling device to show the everyday effects of anxiety and depression.

Celebration and Awards Ceremony — 10 p.m.

The 2018 Shawna Shea Film Festival wraps up with a celebration and its own version of the Oscars.  See who won and enjoy a cold beverage!

For more information about the festival, visit its website at


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