State of the Art

Shut my mouth! The 100 Words Film Festival is back

Italian filmmaker Andrea Marcovicchio will come to the 100 Words Film Festival to present “Red Ribbon.”
Italian filmmaker Andrea Marcovicchio will come to the 100 Words Film Festival to present “Red Ribbon.” Courtesy of 100 Words Film Festival

The coolest part of the 100 Words Film Festival, I have decided, is the counter. It ticks away in the corner of the screen like a time bomb, letting the audience know how much dialogue the movie’s writer has left to use.

In “Hey Jason,” my favorite film at last year’s festival, a young man went on a series of errands, as seemingly inconsequential speeches came and went. The film got down to its last four words, then went silent for a while. Just as you realized the young man’s destination was his mother’s grave, you heard the message preserved on his answering machine: “Hey Jason. It’s Mom.” Beautiful.

Word-profligate journalists may be especially sympathetic to (or envious of) directors who can tell stories so thoroughly through images. But this idea really does force people to rethink the idea of film storytelling, something Hollywood virtually never does any more.

The festival has bulked up since its debut last year. When it returns to McGlohon Theater Nov. 6 and 7 – a venue it sold out last year – it will offer screenings from 8 to 10 p.m. and after-parties at 10:30 p.m. both nights.

It’ll show a total of 35 short films. (That’s a third of the submissions, twice as many of which came in this year.) As before, movies have been divided into scripted, documentary and student categories.

100 Words has expanded its partnership between student filmmakers and charitable organizations, and a grant from the Reemprise Fund made it possible for those students to learn from professional mentors. (Students come from CPCC, Davidson College, Queens University, UNC Charlotte and UNC School of the Arts.)

Most interestingly, 100 Words will import film professionals for a Saturday afternoon seminar at 3 p.m. Shadow Distribution president Ken Eisen, who has handled 30 films over 25 years (including Oscar nominees “Under the Sun” and “The Weather Underground”) will speak. So will actress Karen Young (“The Sopranos,” “CSI”) and director Andy Abrahams Wilson (“Under Our Skin”).

Tickets cost $10 for any event, $24 for all three. You’ll find them at If you go, I think you’ll be surprised: Limits liberate the best of these filmmakers, rather than confining them.

Toppman: 704-358-5232