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Sycamore Film Festival
2011 Films

The following were shown during the Sycamore Film Festival:

The shimmering New Mexico sun bleaches the earth and reflects off towering thunderheads. From inside an RV nestled among the desert brush just off a barely-paved road, the middle-of-nowhere silence is broken by one quick and alarming gunshot. Nothing moves.

Moments later, out of the waves of a heat mirage emerges a leather clad Darryl Tripp, high school English teacher, astride a screaming motorcycle. His mission is to toss his just completed first novel to the four winds, an act of self-loathing and despair. As he stops and pulls the novel out of his satchel, his motorcycle sputters and dies, out of fuel. He stands high on his cycle and spies the lone RV, a hope of help. He rolls his motorcycle to the RV, knocks, gets no answer. He opens the unlocked door, steps inside, taking shelter. Full Synopsis (pdf)
Behind the Scenes Footage
Production Photos

Sadie is desperately looking up to her older sister Georgia who is a famous C&W artist. Sadie wants to be a famous artist like her sister, but is always doing everything wrong. Her desperate need to be accepted by her sister is constantly complicated by her drug and alcohol problems. Georgia lives a very ordered life with husband, house and children, and Sadie does everything to get her attention.

Something Better Somewhere Else
A Bride comes on to a priest in a motel room. A bouquet of flowers from a stranger takes on a life of its own. A man's last day at the office proves to be the longest day of all. It's family moving day, but no one's moving. This is Something Better Somewhere Else- a collective tale of yearning and restlessness told through four distinct but thematically linked stories. Inspired by the best short story collections and the almost lost art of the concept album, the film explores the question: Why is it that who and where we are so often pales in comparison to who and where we imagine we could be? By turns romantic, harrowing and funny, the stories of Something Better Somewhere Else follow the odd adventures of people who step outside their everyday lives to see if there really is something better.
Production Photos

Graveyard Comic Strips
While the rest of the world sleeps, Pete the Custodian and Damon the Security Guard share late-night revelations, epiphanies, confessions, lies and whatever else they can can think of to keep from dying of boredom before the sun comes up. Created by Ron Lazzeretti, David Pasquesi and Christian Stolte

A Second Knock at the Door
A Doc on Friendly Fire

In the works for over two years, A Second Knock at the Door offers a rare glimpse into the lives of military families dealing with the loss of loved ones to friendly fire. Through interviews and investigative reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, this documentary explores several key incidents in which the families of the fallen were forced to embark on a quest for the truth after the Army attempted to bury the true cause of death within the "fog of war."

A Second Knock at the Door is a portrait of strength and sacrifice, faith and honor, and an undying belief in the goodness of the men and women who give their lives for their country.

Point of View

You know his work -- we all do. Wendy’s Clara Peller 'Where’s the beef?', the fast talking FedEx guy, along with countless other unforgettable commercials and campaigns are part of the iconic and distinctive work of director Joe Sedelmaier. Breaking with advertising’s traditional pretty, perfect mannequin people and straightforward approach to product sales, director Joe Sedelmaier’s work is among some of television’s best-known and most honored commercials. An early auteur in a world of salesmen, Sedelmaier created a whole genre with his idiosyncratic work featuring non-actors just trying to get through life. Filmmaker Marsie Wallach’s thoroughly entertaining short documentary, Point of View, profiles the man and the work that landed Joe Sedelmaier on Ad Age’s list of 'Top 100 People of the Century'. The film contains many of Sedelmaier's most famous commercials as well as interviews with industry luminaries.

Anniversary Party

Celebrity couple Joe and Sally Therrian are going through yet another rough stage in their six-year marriage: while Joe's novels have been climbing higher and higher on the best-seller lists, Sally's film career has been steadily sinking into oblivion. Joe's been given the rights to cast and direct the screenplay of his latest book, but rather than resurrect Sally's career by casting her in the lead role, he's given it to Sally's rival, Skye Davidson. Even worse, he's invited Skye to their anniversary bash. Will the marriage, or anything else for that matter, survive the party?

Till You're Told to Stop

Till You’re Told To Stop follows the voyage of a humble British soldier who resigned from his post as a Queen's Guard to become a musician.It tracks the steps of James Blunt, an artist with no musical background through to his enormous worldwide success with his debut album Back To Bedlam.

The key industry players in the story explain in detail the processes involved in getting to work with him at a time when no record labels wanted to sign him.

Full Synopsis (pdf)

Stones from the Soil
After airing on 150 PBS networks nationwide, more than 500,000 people have seen Stones from the Soil, the story of a unique school in 1930's Germany. At Gross Breesen, a small group of Jewish teenagers were trained to become the vanguard of a new society. One of those teenagers was the director's father, Rudi. This innovative school, led by the renowned psychologist and professor Curt Bondy, would eventually save Rudi's life, and the lives of 150 others.

The Beekeeper

Phil Shaw, a beekeeper, is having an affair with his son's girlfriend when she becomes pregnant. Rejected by Phil, she turns to his son, William, who abandons her per his father's guidance. Caught between the truth and the love of her family, the beekeeper's wife must make a painful choice when the girlfriend calls looking for William.
Production Photos

An Open Door
Forgotten as a wife and co-worker, Michelle Watson, in a last ditch effort to save her marriage, convinces her husband, William, to take a much-needed vacation. When their son falls ill, she must cancel their plans and share with William a painful secret that can save their marriage.
Production Photos

Who's Mama? Jo Mama!
Joe Ma Ma, a former outlaw biker, revisits the tough relationship he had with his own father, jail time, and the death of his two older sons, as he prepares for, and attends, a pumpkin race with his youngest boy.

The Dive
Martin has spent the last ten years of his life carrying around one photograph and many painful memories. Now, on the day before he moves out to California to start a new life, he runs into the last person he would ever want to see.
Production Photos

Facing Death
Known for her groundbreaking work in describing the "five stages of grief" experienced by people grappling with mortality and loss, Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross conducted a series of interviews for this illuminating documentary as she faced her own imminent passing. The revelatory film also includes interviews with Kubler-Ross' family and colleagues.

After several failed relationships, the vulnerable Tom gets advice from his best friend on how to find true love. After running into Vicky, his long-time crush, Tom has to over come his helplessness and stand up for himself to get the girl of his dreams.
Production Photos

The Letter
Within the lonely confines of his house, Alfred’s elderly life runs like clockwork.  Besides the weekly visits from his doctor, he does very little to expose himself socially to anyone.  Day by day he goes about his routine and maintains his attitude of sorrow, loss and loneliness.  With no social life, Alfred immerses himself in reading and painting.  When a mysterious letter arrives addressed “To Beth,” Alfred supposes the obvious, that someone must have mistaken the house.

The Letter will not only engage you in a thrilling suspense tale, but also carry you to an ending you would never have expected.  It is a story about a man driven mad by his loneliness.

A struggle to complete his essay ensues when a kid breaks his only pencil.

On the Edge
ON THE EDGE discloses the nomadic existence of women and children far from urban ghettos and poverty... a world imagined by few. This 68 minute documentary chronicles the struggles of seven women trying to escape homelessness in small towns and resort communities across America. ON THE EDGE tells painfully honest yet hopeful stories demonstrating the vulnerability of women and children who are living on the edge.
Production Photos

On the Outside

After serving his sentence for four years, Ethan is finally given parole. On his return h ome to San Pedro, he finds that the world has moved on without him. He struggles to deal with his father's ailing health, his broken relationship with thet women he loves, and keeping his younger brother from following in his footsteps.
Stills from the Set (pdf) Stills from the Film (pdf)

Pardon Us for Living but the Graveyard is Full
Directed and Co-Produced by Geoffray Barbier, the film contains interviews with former and present band members such as Peter Zaremba, Keith Streng, Bill Milziher, Ken Fox who are all in their mid-50‘s by now, as well as Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Clem Burke (Blondie), Dick Manitoba, Andy Shernoff (The Dictators), Glenn Dicker (Yep Records) M. Henry Jones, who tell their opinion on the band’s role in the NYC music life, their incomparable way of performance on the stage, their direct relation to the audience trying to find out what kept them going up until now without never really made it.
Full Synopsis (pdf)

Star Worlds
“Star Worlds: A Pocket Full Of Tokens And I’m Heading To The Arcade” is about a small town arcade that is fighting to reconnect a sense of community to the video game world. Patrick O’Malley started collecting arcade games since 8th grade. His collection grew so big that he decided to start his own arcade. With the help of his business partner Glenn Thomas, Star Worlds Arcade in DeKalb, IL has survived throughout changing times and the death of the arcade industry. However the two work tirelessly to keep the spirit of the arcade alive and are rewarded with a once in a lifetime call from the godfather of gaming Walter Day.

To Be Remembered
Meet Cassie. Again. Though you’ve met her a dozen times and may meet her a dozen more. Condemned by her mysterious eyes, seventeen year old Cassie has been isolated from society and forgotten by her family. Despite the comfort of companions who have suffered the same fate, Cassie still hopes for a day when she can return to normal life. However, even if she could find a way to rejoin society, she would be forced to leave her fellow outcasts behind.
Photo Gallery

Life Amended
Jared Carter is living with Multiple Sclerosis. His job is to hire motivational speakers and he sees how people overcome their challenges and limitations everyday. He realizes all along that he has challenges, and one night he finds himself facing them head on.
Production Photos

Animalia is an inter-species fairytale about a girl who is disenchanted with the world and wishes she could fly. She joins the circus only to discover it is a secret military operation. She then runs away to the woods and falls under the spell of a mystical deer. When she becomes an antlered deer-creature, she finally achieves flying powers and enters an ethereal world of hybrid creatures.

Sarah good is a 14 year old American girl and a talented show jumper. Therefore, no one understands why she suddenly loses control of her horse at a show and badly injures herself. Only Sarah knows why she fell.

In the middle of the jump she had a vision. At the same time an old lady is laid to rest in a far away country. The Norwegian Woman, Gudrun Shillingmeyer has lived a long and colorful life. Now she follows her daughter, Svanhilde to a final resting place. What is the connection with Sarah’s fear of horses? Sarah knows she has to get back on the horse, but how? She will find the answer in a remote part of Norway.

Monocerus is a unicorn, a mythical animal. Monocerus is also a film about how a strong happy American girl is drawn towards a green crystal unicorn figurine and the old house of Gudrun Shillingmeyer.

In this supernatural thriller, a psychiatrist must face his own fear of death after his psychic wife invites a frightening presence into their lives. As they are both drawn into a situation where dreams easily fuse with reality, the distanced couple must find a common understanding or risk being cut off from each other forever. Set against a misty coastal backdrop, this fast-paced examination of existential dread and the threads that bind us beyond death is a sophisticated update in the grand tradition of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

Dee Palmer

The Legendary Dee Palmer and his Fantastic Band is an autobiographical documentary told through the eyes of Dee Palmer, born in 1915. Dee has spent his whole life trying to bring joy to other people through music. He gave up the life of a professional musician in 1948 and returned to his hometown, DeKalb, Illinois to direct the local community band, a position he has held for over 60 years. Through the use of animations, stock footage, and selected performances of the band the filmmaker presents a visual interpretation of Dee’s memories, along with an engaging concert experience.

Michael Morlock
Michael Morlock is a great documentary filmmaker who does his own investigation on the supernatural world. Nothing gets in his way , not even his crew. Morlock delivers the goods and uncovers the truth about everything you ever doubted in your life.

Morlock crosses the line of documentary film Making and digs deep into the other side. This hilarious film contains some shocking footage never seen before until now.With Morlocks candid interviews to relaxing with exotic dancers, this film will keep you wondering could Morlock be the greatest filmmaker that ever lived?

The Race: Life's Greatest Lesson
Based on D. H. Groberg's poem, The Race, this short film shares the story of a boy and a race, the temptation to quit, and the inspiration to keep going.

"A motivational classic. It's not just a home run… it's a grand slam." ~Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager

"The Race touches the heart in a way that's difficult to describe. I love it, and so will you." ~Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"The Race is your story, my story, our story. You'll love it. And everyone you share it with will love you for sharing it." ~Mark Victor Hansen, coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Foreign Films

Mario tries to recover part of the legacy that his deceased grandfather wanted to leave him. His brother, Oscar, tries to stop him. (Maxi Campo)

El Cortejo
Capi is the oldest gravedigger in the cemetery. Used to working amidst the suffering of others and the jokes of his colleagues, there is only one person capable of taking him out of his daily routine. Every month for the last couple of years he has waited for Marta to take flowers to the grave of her husband. She is his last hope. (Marina Seresesky)

Porque Hay Cosas Que Nunca Se Olvidan …
Naples, Italy. 1950. Four friends are playing soccer out on the street when their ball is accidentally kicked into the evil old lady’s yard. They’ll never play with their ball again … and for that the revenge will be deadly … (Lucas Figueroa)