Nov 4, 2013
01:19 PM

Very Short Films, Big Impact: Pomfret School's Arts Focus Gilded by Festival Nov. 16

Very Short Films, Big Impact: Pomfret School's Arts Focus Gilded by Festival Nov. 16

Hard Auditorium at Pomfret School, where the film festival will be held; photo from the school's website.

With a mission that positions the arts within the heart of providing the best education possible for its 360 students from all over the world, and preparing them to excel at the nation’s top colleges and universities, the private Pomfret School in northeastern Connecticut is the perfect venue for an event taking place Nov. 16, The Short Short Story Film Festival.

Open to the public, this international film festival will feature live-action and animated films that tell their stories in less than six minutes, and is divided into two programs, “Heartstrings,” to be presented at 7 p.m., and “Headtrip” at 9 p.m., followed by a reception with music by DJ Madame B.

Tickets are $10 at the door for the general public, with free admission for Pomfret School students and staff.

“The Heartstrings program leans towards live action with films exploring the fragility of human bonds, the search for meaning, or finding humor in the struggles of everyday life,” according to a release from MergingArts Productions, the force behind the festival, which is in its seventh year. “The Headtrip program is more animated and features dystopian visions, satires skewering current trends, unsettling psychological dramas, and mysterious voices from distant lands.”

“Our idea is to present a wide variety of themes and moods within the time of a typical feature film, focusing both on succinctness and storytelling,” Toni Pennacchia, the Creative Director of MergingArts Productions, said in a release on the festival, which made its debut in 2007 in Providence, R.I., and has been presented in different communities in the Northeast since then.

“Most shorts programs allow for films of ten, twenty minutes, or even longer. But we like to keep things short and sweet,” added Pennacchia, who elaborated in the release that the films have such classic story elements as buildup of conflict, and resolution, “though some things may be more implied than stated.”

“Their success as stories is driven more by depth than length," she said.

As for how the festival arrived at Pomfret School, Chip Lamb, the Arts Chair and Theatre Director at the school, saw the festival last year and was favorably impressed.

“Since part of our mission is bringing international programming to local communities, we were excited to collaborate with Chip to bring the festival to Pomfret,” Pennacchia said.

In Pomfret, the festival finds a perfect venue—one that will be alive with aesthetic, intellectual and cultural give-and-take.

“Creativity and self-expression are essential components to a Pomfret School education, and therefore the Arts Department is uniquely placed in both the academic and co-curricular life of the school,” Pomfret’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Sharon Gaudreau, said in an email in response the question about the central nature of the arts at the school. “The artistic work of our students is an integral part of our community and every Pomfret student is involved through our programs.

“A fine example of Pomfret’s innovative teaching approaches is the opening of our new off campus Arts Gallery, where students are being given the opportunity to show their work (which will include a number of visual and performing arts shows throughout the year) in a real world gallery setting,” Gaudreau added. Details may be found online.

While its tenure, like its films, will be brief, the festival should add to that arts enrichment.

Filmmakers from around the world are represented, from Russia to Australia to Germany to Iran, the release said.

Some of this year’s films that Pennacchia considers standouts from the Heartstrings program include:

The Theft, from Iran, about an old woman agonizing over the fate of a young infant in an alleyway.
Origami, a Spanish animated fable of a paper boat living in an abandoned toy store that embarks on a journey of discovery.
Pendulum, from Ukraine, where a married man finds that shaking up his domestic routine is trickier than he imagined.
To Forget, from Canada, an exploration of the pain and regret of the end of a relationship.

Headtrip highlights include:

Refusal, from the Czech Republic, an animated action thriller about a stray creature’s desperate struggle to escape imprisonment.
Arrest Me, a wry Danish portrayal of a young man who can’t succeed at much in life, not even petty crime.
Water Water Everywhere, a haunting Indian animated exploration of the effect of rapid industrialization on those who depend on nature.
Missfall, from Germany, about two women whose complicated relationship may not survive the specter of betrayal.

Audiences at each screening will be given ballots to select their favorite three films, which are then combined with votes from other festival screenings to determine overall winners, the release explained. The festival also awards jury prizes from a panel of film industry professionals who have been interviewed on “Spoiler Alert Radio,” MergingArts’ nationally syndicated interview show and podcast.

Pennacchia and festival co-organizer Paul Elsnau will be on hand to introduce the programs, the release said, warning that because of some mature content and themes of the films, the program is recommended for ages 14 and up.

The one-day film event will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, to  at the Hard Auditorium at Pomfret School, located at 398 Pomfret Street. For more see the MergingArts website, or send an email to

Pomfret School is an independent boarding and day school for close to 360 students from all over the world – 24 different states and 20 different countries," Gaudreau wrote in the email. “Our faculty, curriculum, arts, athletics, and innovative approach to developing adolescents highlight why students (and parents) choose Pomfret for their secondary education. Additionally, our college and career exploration programs are distinctive, and many are facilitated by our strong network of 4500+ alumni from around the world.”

To learn more, see the school’s website.


Very Short Films, Big Impact: Pomfret School's Arts Focus Gilded by Festival Nov. 16

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