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Tricks of the Trade: Veteran film editor Bud S. Smith is the keynote speaker at the Poppy Jasper Film Festival in Morgan Hill.

Brief Encounters

The Poppy Jasper Film Festival presents shorts and film experts from near and far

By Richard von Busack

NO ONE who saw Morgan Hill­born actress Poppy Jasper in her silent classics The Hallowed Gallows (1917) and Li'l Shrimp (1919) is likely to forget her. And I say that with confidence because no one saw her at all—I just made her up. Poppy Jasper is a bright orange, semiprecious stone found only in the environs of Morgan Hill. This regional gem is the symbolic cornerstone of the town's annual film festival. The second time around, the Poppy Jasper Film Festival, Nov. 11­13, is screening some 30 films. Like Ann Arbor's festival and the Black Mariah Film Fest in New Jersey, the Morgan Hill fest focuses on short films: "Art in 30 minutes or less" is the motto.

The fest includes the instructional side of filmmaking. Keynote speaker, film editor Bud S. Smith (Flashdance, The Game of Their Lives), will help illuminate what goes on in what has been called an invisible craft. Workshops for the ambitious indie filmmaker include a scriptwriting class by Barnaby Dallas, instructor at San Jose State University, and an indie-film overview by Grant Richards, who teaches film history at Gavilan College (Richards' short Dana's Dreams" will be screening).

One intriguing panel is called "Creating Success in the Film Industry" and features Wali Razaqi, co-producer of 2004's September Tapes, a mockumentary restaging of the hunt for bin Laden in Afghanistan, with location footage in Kabul mixed in with staged scenes in India and New Mexico.

The problems and successes facing women in film will be dissected by a panel boasting chapeau-intoxicated critic Jan Wahl, sound technician Linda Coldsnow-Smith (who has worked on 45 films, earning a dialogue-editor credit on Million Dollar Baby), producer Shari Gibbons and Jennifer Frieds, co-scripter of Iron Jawed Angels. The Hong Kongish title of the latter disguises a historical story of suffragettes starring Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston.

The films are unpreviewed but they include Lift, the audience-award winner at Cinequest last year, a short about the love affair between an elevator-hating lady and an elevator operator (Dominique Pinon, the squashed-faced character actor from Caro and Jeunet's films).

SJSU associate professor Grace Provenzano's documentary The Jeeter Bug: Mission Over Iwo Jima concerns a B-24 flight during World War II that almost didn't make it back: The crew had a hellish choice between ditching the plane in the Pacific or landing on a tiny airstrip at Iwo Jima during the thick of the fighting.

Academy Award winner (from 2004) Mighty Times: The Children's March is a short documentary about the civil rights movement by Bobby Houston, who previously did a documentary on the life of Rosa Parks. Interestingly, Houston also directed that Quentin Tarantino favorite Shogun Assassin and starred in the original version of The Hills Have Eyes. This small festival draws on the Bay Area's talent and offers a little bit of everything. Everything, that is, except films by the one and only Poppy Jasper. We shall never see her likes again.

The Poppy Jasper Film Festival plays Nov. 11­13 in Morgan Hill. See www.poppyjasperfilmfest.org for schedule details.

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From the November 9-15, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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