The NoHu International Short Film Festival recently completed its run for the fifth year from Oct. 16 to 19 with final screenings and a gala awards ceremony.
The original 60 entries were narrowed down to 12 by three filmmakers acting as a selection panel. The genres ranged from horror, comedy, arts, documentary and noir. Each finalist received a certificate for their participation. The winners were selected by the audience.
First place went to “Un Amor Ilicito” (‘an illicit love’) directed by Julius B. Kelly of Sunnyside Down Productions; second went to his mentor Ruben Rodriguez of MojoCreative Group, who directed “Meat Market,” produced by Cesar Orellana; and third place went to “Blink,” a horror film by Saulo Diaz directed by John Jay Hebert.
The winners received a plaque, a gift certificate from Havana 59 Restaurant and a bottle of wine from Twin Liquors.
“We are truly grateful that people had a liking for our film “Un Amor Ilicito,” said Kelly. “I think Lucio Fernandez and Mayor Brian P. Stack have done a tremendous job of bringing such an event to Union City to explore different cultures and their art forms. By opening the door to international and local film makers, it gives the fans and audience a broader outlook of life.”
“By opening the door to international and local film makers it gives the fans and audience a broader outlook on life.” – Julius B. Kelly
“It was a real labor of love, and I thank the City of Union City, because without them it wouldn’t be possible,” said Hebert.
The three films screened were a horror film, “The Death of April” which was shot throughout Hudson County; “Frank & Chip” a documentary about former Union City residents that represented the USA in the Olympics in 1936; and “Unfinished Spaces,” a documentary about three artists in the wake of Castro’s Revolution. Each feature was screened on its own night with the filmmakers attending at the Union City Performing Arts Center.
“There’s a lot of artists that are from Union City and [we give them] a place to showcase their [work],” said Fernandez. “I wanted to bring the arts to Union City because the perception was that there was nothing going on in Union City.”
The four day festival came to a conclusion with the Short Film Finalists & Awards Ceremony on Friday, Oct. 19 at the William V. Musto Cultural Center. The red carpet began at 6 p.m. and the award ceremony followed the screenings. Guests at the free event were entertained with music by DJ Romeo and live music by “Duo Sabor Latino” and served refreshments. Those in attendance were asked to dress to impress.
The runnersup were “Lovestruck”, “Blood Money” and “The Amazing Self Health Kit”.
Thanking his former mentor
Kelly said “Un Amor Ilicito” is being submitted to film festivals across the country. It took two years to complete the film, shot around New Jersey and upstate New York. Its inspiration originated from a song by Scott Weiland called “Barberalla.” It was supposed to be a music video but Kelly decided to expand it. The film was of a female assassin who wanted to save her boyfriend from her family’s misdeeds and a criminal world.
“All my films tend to deal with the meaning of forbidden love or the search for unconditional love,” said Kelly.
Those who were unable to attend The Fifth Annual NoHu Short International Film Festival can visit www.whoissunny.com to request a free copy. Sunnyside Down Productions will cover the shipping and handling.
Kelly interned in 2006 for Ruben Rodriguez at Comcast Cable.
“He took us [Kelly, along with his production partners] under his wing and gave us the opportunity to expand our dreams of becoming film makers,” said Kelly. “Working with MojoCreative Group made me want to branch out and gain my own sense of self in the film industry.”
Kelly admires Rodriguez and considers him a brother.
“The impact Ruben has laid upon me [to become] a successful filmmaker is to truly believe in your work,” said Kelly.
Last year, Kelly’s music video interpretation “Cold Desert” won third place at The Fourth Annual NoHu International Short Film Festival.
The NoHu International Short Film Festival began in 2008 with James and Toni Fakuda along with Commissioner Lucio Fernandez. Originally the festival began the film screenings at St. John’s Episcopal Church with the awards ceremony which was held at Park Avenue Bar & Grill. In 2009 the entire festival was done at St. John’s which was then moved in 2010 to the Jose Marti Freshman Academy. In 2011 the festival found its home at the William V. Musto Cultural Center where its prestige continued with a new logo and a red carpet. This year it expanded to a second venue in The Union City Performing Arts Center where it is now a four day event. The term NoHu was coined by a Weehawken resident, Ben Goldman, which means North Hudson.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org