Misfortune and Occult delight the Landlocked Film Festival

Posted in: Iowa City Owl Iowa City News - Local Stories
The 5th annual Landlocked Film Festival took place last weekend in Iowa City at several locations downtown. Englert Theatre, hotelVetro, Iowa City Public Library, and Bijou Theatre hosted independent film screenings, workshops and panels with directors from August 25 – 28.
This competitive festival presented films from all over the world. It also drew thousands of movie enthusiasts, who came for the wide range of films – as its website proclaims, “from two minutes to two hours long, from artsy experimentation to outrageous comedy, from heartwarming family stories to heartbreaking drama, from hard-hitting documentary to music video to amazing animation.”

Already a world-renowned UNESCO literature city, Landlocked Film Festival shook the scene of Iowa City up by bringing a bit of dry Venetian air and atmosphere, and some up-and-coming directors to boot. It was all Iowa, though, with the “Green Carpet” event to kick it off. Here, event-goers were able to meet and greet the filmmakers.

Highlights from the weekend included an event featured a panel at hotelVetro with the filmmaker Jesse Baget, who wrote and directed White Knight, a story of Leroy Lowe (Tom Sizemore), a Ku Klux Klan member who comes to face his bigotry when imprisoned to work hard labor with Emilio (Hector Jimenez), an Hispanic field worker. Jesse Baget, fresh from only his third film produced, is set to turn some heads with his upcoming film, Mississippi Wild starring Dakota Fanning, Robert Duvall, Forest Whitaker, Mickey Rourke and Ryan Donowho.

Devon Terrill and Kara Kurcz, both University of Iowa alumni, entered their debut documentary films to be shown at the festival. Terrill, 37, grew up in Marshalltown and brings her family’s story of Adam Terrill, “a loud, charismatic, flag-twirling redhead who has a compelling mix of creative talents and developmental disabilities,” in the film Gork! Kurcz also aims for the inspirational in her documentary Big Time, which follows the trials and tribulations of Kurcz’s own steps toward the American Dream as a TV-producer turned handbag designer facing a stalling economy.

And then there was the occult and absurd of The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue, in which “a pair of bumbling landlords reluctantly hunt the subterranean creature that menaces their tenants and their tenants' pets.” The low budget film is written, directed and starred by two Chicago friends who’s taste for sinister and strange doesn’t stray far from their haunted-house day jobs. One of the filmmakers, John LaFlamboy, was at the Englert Theatre to discuss his influences of similar horror/comedy indie films like Shaun of the Dead (2004) and classics like The Evil Dead (1981). He laughed as he described the process of shooting a film in only 19 days at a rented Christian community center in Chicago, as well as the serendipity of casting Robert Englund, the original Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). He also came with a crew of zombies parked outside of the theatre in a wildly painted “zombie bus.” Viewers were encouraged to cap the night off with a VIP visit to the riotous vehicle.

Awards included several categories, ranging from Cinematography (First place: Bright) to Animation (First place: Backwater Gospel). The complete list of Landlocked Film festival award winners can be viewed on the Film Festival's website.

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