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Style Magazine

The Sacramento Film and Music Festival

Jul 19, 2011 04:30PM ● By Wendy Sipple

If you are one of the people that complain that Hollywood has no originality and you would love to see something different, the Sacramento Film and Music Festival is your chance. Heading into its 12th year, the Sacramento Film Festival has become a foundation of the burgeoning film production community in the region. Founded by Nathan Schemel, he has spearheaded an annual event that has actually help foster several other film festivals in the area and given local artist an unique venue to showcase their craft.

Today Nathan has partnered with Tony Sheppard to produce the festival that, over the years, grew to more than a week long event. Tony is a chair of the faculty senate at Sacramento State University and weekly columnist for Capitol Weekly. This is the first year they have decided to divide the festival into two separate programs: one running in the winter months, the other running during the summer. “We grew to 10 days about three years ago, simply because we had so many films that we wanted to show and it seemed like a shame to not have screen time for them. But it was a grueling experience for us,” explains Sheppard. “Splitting into two shorter events allowed us to retain the screen time but go back to producing what felt like a more intimate event.”
One of the largest challenges for them is pouring over the hundreds of submissions they receive. Because they have an open mind in terms of content, film makers send a variety of different films spanning almost every genre. Sacramento Film and Music Festival is also an international film festival and as a result film makers from over 28 different countries have submitted films for consideration. During the screening process the organizers have to decide on which films make the cut, a difficult task indeed. “We find ourselves comparing multi-million dollar projects to $250 student films – and the choices aren’t always as easy as you might think,” says Tony Sheppard. “There have been at least two films, with major name involvement, that have seen major distribution releases in the last few months that were previously submitted to us and rejected. You always find that there are films that look great but which have poor storytelling and others that have compelling stories but low production standards. This is especially true in documentaries, and at the last Festival we included two films that shared amazing content but with very simple and often low-quality camerawork. It’s very easy to be impressed by flashy cinematography – it’s harder to dig a little deeper and find the unpolished diamond.”
Live acts perform at the festival in addition to the weekend of films that are screened. This adds a layer of complexity for the organizers but it’s something not common to most film festival events. This year the festival is working in conjunction with the Sacramento Bee to include an unique fashion show competition giving local designers a chance to compete producing outfits within a specific set of parameters as well.
In addition to the film submissions outside of the area, the Sacramento Film and Music Festival is unique in the opportunity it gives local musicians and film makers. Two programs in particular are the Sac Music Seen programs and the 10x10 Filmmaker program. Since their inception the festival has screened over 250 original shorts all made and shot in the area. The Sac Music Seen pairs up and coming musicians with young film makers to create original music videos. The 10x10 Filmmaker Challenge a time limited themed guerilla filmmaking competition that gives filmmakers 10 days to make a 10 minute short. Last year over 21 different shorts were screened spanning multiple genres. The festival always concludes with the screening of the 10x10 films followed by a meet and greet and the awards ceremony.
It’s a great weekend of music and storytelling and there is certainly something for everyone each year. If you are interested in attending this year’s festival please visit for current pricing and event ticket deals in addition to up to date announcements about specific films. You can also visit the box office at the Crest theater in downtown Sacramento where the event is held every year.
Sacramento Film and Music Festival Highlights:
40 films from the general international submission pool, representing the USA and 12 additional countries: Poland, Australia, France, Spain, Canada, UK, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Ireland, Argentina, Uruguay.
Individual screenings cost $10 - but heavily discounted passes will be available at the Crest box office starting the last week in July
Film highlights:
Jimmy Murakami: Non-Alien
Jimmy Murakami has had a long career as a director in the film industry, primarily of animated films. He was born in California and has lived and worked in Los Angeles, Japan, England, and Ireland where he has lived for the past 40 years. But he has always been troubled by his childhood, spent at the Tule Lake concentration camp in Northern California, during the period of internment of Japanese Americans. The film documents his journey back to that place as he comes to terms with that experience and the injustice done to him and thousands of others.
Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football.
Dearborn, Michigan has one of the highest concentrations of residents of Arab descent outside of the Middle east. On the blue-collar west side of town, Fordson High School has student population that is 95% of Arab descent, primarily Muslim. But this is also a football town, with a rich history and a strong cross-town rivalry. The film looks at the lives of the players and their families, the difficulties of intensive practices during the fasting of Ramadan, and the unique experience of being an American student engaged in such an American sport but also a Muslim following the events of 9/11.
Face to Face
An intense Australian drama that is like a modern update of the classic 12 Angry Men. Instead of a jury room, the majority of the film takes place in a conflict resolution session, engaging 10 workmates, family members, and friends, that manages to bring to the surface far more than just a solution to a work related confrontation. Long held resentments and betrayals, as well as cultural insensitivity and bullying, can't hide once the recriminations begin. The screenplay for this film came from a stage play, which in turn was based on actual conflict resolution transcripts.
Shorts programs include:
Student Days - general subject shorts
Narrative Shorts
Sacramento Shorts
Student Nights - darker themed shorts
World Shorts

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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