Gila Valley residents compete in film festival

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Gary Clement: Bryttani Mooney, right, receives words of filmmaking wisdom at the annual Southern Arizona Independent Film Festival from Heather Hale, who is a director, producer and writer.

By Brooke Curley

WILLCOX – It was the famed Hollywood director Robert Altman who said that filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.

Devoted local filmmakers were given the opportunity to share their prized work with the public Friday and Saturday at the at the annual Southern Arizona Independent Film Festival in Willcox. The festival included film screenings, workshops and a production panel discussion, along with awards and recognition. The event was held in the Historic Willcox Theater at 134 N. Railroad Ave.

Teenager Bryttani Mooney, of the Gila Valley, entered her short film “The Difference” into the festival.

“This is actually the first video I have entered into the festival, but I was an actress in a video that was entered last year,” Mooney said. “I started working with film production in the acting class that I participated in last school year, but I never got to make my own films since I was the one behind the camera. I started learning how to create films in my media communications class that started in January of last school year. Sadly, the program was discontinued after its first year.”

Mooney hopes to continue her passion for film making throughout her college career while attaining a degree in psychology. Using her psychology major to benefit her storytelling in films, she hopes to continue to make enjoyable and hard hitting pieces of art. However, through the experience of the festival, Mooney told Gila Valley Central that she has learned multiple lessons.

“I learned that working with other people and gathering others’ opinions really helps when it comes to perfecting a project,” she said. “I was able to pinpoint the areas in my film that needed more work and figure out what I had done well. I was also inspired by the wonderful films that others had entered and all the amazing people that I got to meet. Overall, it was an amazing experience that I am glad I got to be a part of.”

Kelly Van Shaar, of Safford, owns and operates Van Shaar Productions. He entered three films and judged in the event. Van Shaar’s films included “Breaking the Silence: Addiction & Recovery,” “Speck Score” and “Love is for Nerds.” Van Shaar has instructed multiple media communication classes at Thatcher and Willcox high schools. He told Gila Valley Central that the festival was not only a tool for filmmaker critique and education, but a platform to showcase individual talents.

“So, film festivals are a great way for aspiring artists to get their work in front of an interested and yet diverse audience – one that can point out the flaws and applaud the successes of a film,” Van Shaar said. “Another great thing about these festivals is that they usually include meaningful feedback sessions from others who have found a road to success in the industry. If we feel like someone has abandoned their own concept of art or expression in favor of just doing what they believe most people are willing to pay for, well, we call these people sell-outs. On the other hand, when we see people who are supposedly pure in their motivations, we call these people starving artists. I guess the goal is to come out somewhere in between, where you can be true to yourself and still create something that is meaningful to others.”





Contributed Phot/Courtesy Gary Clement: A euphoric Kelly Van Shaar stands in front of screen while waiting for the show to begin.


Film Festival Winners
Best Indie Film:

“Seventy” (Robert Belinoff)

Best Advanced Student Film:

“The Amazing Motimer” (Huntington University/Eric Luce)

Best Student Film:

“The Other Side” (Luis Arevalo)

Best Direction:

“Seventy” (Robert Belinoff)

Best Cinematography:

“Splitting Maul” (Trenton Mynatt)

Best Editing:

“Seventy” (Robert Belinoff)

Best Sound:

“Splitting Maul” (Trenton Mynatt)

Best Performance:

“Seventy” (Robert Belinoff) – T

Best Story:

“Eyes of Sorrow Moon” (Gerald Saul) – T

Best of Festival:

“The Amazing Motimer” (Huntington University/Eric Luce)

Audience Favorite:

“The Amazing Motimer” (Huntington University/Eric Luce)