South Charlotte

Winning film tells Charlotte stories

The winning documentary at the inaugural 100 Words Film Festival tells behind-the-scenes stories of social issues in Charlotte – using exactly 100 words.

“Being from Charlotte, we wanted to give a story and message from Charlotte,” said David Johnson, founder of Silent Images, a Matthews-based nonprofit. “We wanted to highlight and hopefully inspire people to consider the needs right here in our city.”

Silent Images uses video and images to help charities around the world tell their stories.

“Behind the Skyline” is the first film that Silent Images has entered in a film festival, Johnson said. It was created from footage that Silent Images filmmakers took in Charlotte for stories about homelessness, refugees, human trafficking and people with disabilities.

Scott Galloway, founder of the 100 Words Film Festival and of Charlotte-based Susie Films, said short films have become “wildly popular” and have taken a more prominent role at film festivals.

The 100 Words Film Festival, which was held Nov. 22 at the McGlohon Theater in uptown Charlotte, showcased 20 professional short films and 10 student films. The event sold out, with 730 people in attendance.

Several celebrities who are interested in short films attended, including actors Mackenzie Astin and Regina Taufen and filmmaker Anna Christopher.

Galloway said 60 films were submitted to the festival from around the world. Most were only a few minutes long, but one Canadian filmmaker submitted a 74-minute, post-apocalyptic film that didn’t make the final cut.

Each entry had to use exactly 100 words to tell a story, Galloway said.

“It forces you to try to maximize words, and you definitely are reminded that words are important and that there’s power in brevity,” Johnson said. “It’s a sense of not giving your viewers the full story, but just enough to make them care and enough that makes them connect.”

“Beyond the Skyline” is four minutes, 20 seconds long and is rich with images, including shots of a man who is homeless sitting under an overpass and a family of refugees in their living room.

The film was chosen as Best Documentary at the festival by a panel of three judges from local media, including Lawrence Toppman of The Observer.

“David’s a brilliant filmmaker,” Galloway said. “He has a real passion for what he does, and that comes across in everything he does, whether that’s a photograph or a film.”

Johnson said the $1,500 that Silent Images won at the festival will be given to the charities featured in the film. That list includes: Love INC (people with disabilities); All We Want is Love (human trafficking); A Child’s Place (homeless children); and Catholic Charities (refugees).

“I see the winning of the film as really a win for the voices in our city that often get muffled out by noise that’s more distracting,” Johnson said.

He said he hopes the film will cause people to slow down, especially during the holiday season, and think about how they can help others.

“I just thought it was timely as we go into the giving season and look beyond a well-manicured city and beautiful skyline,” he said. “We have a city with a lot of hurting people and a lot of stories of people struggling.”