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James J  Cremin Written by James J Cremin
Oct. 7, 2008 | 10:03 AM

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Elevate Film Festival - All Tribes Unite

Yesterday, October 5, 2008, Elevate held its 5th film festival.  I have an unique perception of Elevate, being actually present when Mikki Willis directed one of the first narratives of the first festival in 2005.  He had an Elevate top hat in which documentaries or narratives and of the directors that gathered, one called in to cancel and he was forced to direct. Forty eight hours later, the first Elevate was held at the Golden Bridge Yoga. I remember even sharing ideas of one being made the same weekend that he wrote.

In some capacity, I become part of Elevate.  I created voting ballots, set up and host an Elevate lounge, became part of a writers group and led one meeting that was a script festival on its own.  I even enjoyed my first taste of editing when I logged and captured behind the scenes footage of Elevate IV.

From Golden Bridge to John Anson Ford Amphitheatre to Pasadena Civic Auditorium to Kodak Theatre, at 3:00 pm, the program of the fifth Elevate Film Festival commenced at the Nokia Theatre.

It began actually with live performances by Idris Hector and Drummers and the Shalmanic Cheerleaders.  This helped provide the atmosphere that one did just become part of a festival.  The cheerleaders were imaginably dressed in green outfits and held out signs that read BE HERE NOW and OM.  Then a count down.

Still, not actually the real start so much as being a prologue, Mikki Willis recalls when he got the germ of an idea that would become Elevate when he helped out at Ground Zero during the destruction of the Twin Towers, often the shorthand is 9/11.  An invocation ceremony was led by Carmen Vicente Road, Woman of the Sacred Fire of Itzachilatlan, native of Ecuador, who honored all present.

The Shorts:

SYMBIOAXIPLASM:  A funny narrative written and directed by Scott Cervine. The little used word title loosely means the effects human beings have on their environment.  There was good audience response during the man’s speech praying for the printer to work.

ONE WITH THE ONE:  This documentary focussed on the development of children in Ghana, as facilitated by Brother Ismael Tete.  Director Carlo De Rosa made it a point to show the children thinking, writing, sharing and playing in these impoverish areas.

KWEISI This dark narrative directed by David Sauvage fools into thinking you are watching a documentary.  Though only seen by still photo and heard through out voice over in a way that the viewers can make their own emotions in what ultimately becomes a forgiving almost the unforgivable.

HELP WANTED:  This Teo Guardino directed narrative is quite bilingual and was so life awakening, it won the Arrow (Elevate Award) for Best Screening.  When the young mechanic told his story and said he lived for three, that got audience applause.

THEY;  This comedy concept has done before but director Samah Tokmachi has given a mockamentary a cool twist.  The “they” who rule everything, who are “they” anyway?

RETURN TO DAWN: Just as the title says, a getting back into Mother Nature this female politician.  By the way, she does not resemble Governor Sally Pallin.

EIEN (ETERNAL): This silent movie style narrative featured a man looking at his beloved’s face.  As the images show them in earlier stages of their relationship, this short was the one that got a live musical acompliment.  Singer Jody Watley sang Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” with Eric Spicard, piano and Maria Scherer, cello.  The man’s fingers leaves his wife’s at the last note.


HUMMINGBIRD:  Directed by Eric Delabarre, written by Donald Neale Walsh, Vanessa Williams (Soul Food The TV Series) stars as an hurried back up singer who transfers into quite a songbird herself. For those familiar with Agape, the musicians who back up Williams at the end are familiar faces.

MAMA FILIPINA - APLDEAF OF BLACK EYED PEAS:  Story told through the rap music and very energetiy done.  Music video directed by Michael Chait.

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL - KEB MO:  Lots of split screens showing America as this standard is given the acoustic blues treatment.  Director Tommy Maddox Upshaw received the arrow for this one.

PEACE - LUMINARIES:  Ricki Byers Beckwith is the musical director of Agape.  For those who need more, she’s uses gospel, rock, jazz and soul as musical sources and here she along with everyone else celebrates peace.  Music video directed by Justin Tustin Ostensen.

FAST PACED WORLD - THE DUHKS:  This up and coming multi race and gender group shows the viewer that. Lots of energy here.  Music video directed by Dream Rockwell.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND:  This fun documentary features great amination and don’t kids say the craziest things?  The Best Documentary Award Arrow award was given this.  Directed by Scott Altomare.

DE VINE:  A group of non indigenous people visit Columbia to have their first hand tryout of the legardary vines used for medisial purposes for centuries by the indegious inhabitants.  This documentary was co-directed by Ciela Wynter and Chris Brickler.

INSIDE OUT:  Imaginatively directed by Anka Malatynsk, this documentary exposes a new tool that has shifted lives.

MEET THE FUNKMEYERS:  Chris Bradley captured this lovely couple as they recount their first meeting to their visit to Bali.  A very loving documentary.

SACRED MUSIC:  Music all throughout recorded history.  Arna Vodenos explores that with the Sacred Music Festival musicians.  A good cleasing.

There were thirty second commercials that were also in good competion.  Visso, a furniture store, had the funniest punchline.  There were also Dole, Indie 103.1, Waterless Grass and EarthFX.

The Difference Engine gets special mention as this company belongs to Anurag Grupta, Manifester of the Elevate Film Festival. He held a very hands on approach to the entire process.  LOVE NOW is a very powerful video starring Kute Blackson, directed by Paul Sparks.

There were special features:

XDR-TB:  This slideshow from TED’s newest prize winner, James Nacchtway. photos of victims of extensively drug resistant tuberculosis, already a major problem on a global level.

HEAR ME - THE IMAGINE PROJECT:  Directed by Shae Diyn, the film makers travelled around the world, capturing images and voices from Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, Watts in the USA.  The words and language didn’t have to match, just the meaning of the song IMAGINE by John Lennon.  I did notice any country that did follow the English lyrics was the children of Cambodia, whose parents were facing war with the United States the time the song was written.

There were special presentations from Cymascope, cutting edge interactive sound by Eric Lawson and Water, atmospheric music and ambiance by Alex Thierry.

Shiva Rea entered the stage for quick work up for bestowing honor to Dr. Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith who accepted for the Agape Spiritual Center.  He in turn honored the late Paul Newman, whose organizations gave away millions to different charities.

Mikki Willis acknowledged the presence of his father and along with fiance Nadia Salamonca, gave out Arrows.  Every director were then invited to come on stage for audience recognition.

Elevate Film Festival closed with a documentary that really had yet to start. 

I AM WALKING showcases Chria Howe’s preparation to leave the Nokia Theatre stage and walk to Brazil.  Directed by Jeff Schneidner, when this doc ended, Chris Howe and sons were on stage.

Thus starts his journey.  Thus starts everyone else’s, whether one finds a shift or not.


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