Last night I was delighted to attend the free Santa Monica Film Festival in my very own hometown of Santa Monica, California. This charming, small (tiny, really) film festival screened a number of outstanding short films, all of which were clever, amusing or scary, take your pick. There were so many wonderful films, it was a smorgasbord of high-quality short film making. Actor and writer Robert Rusler was the host, and did an outstanding job introducing the films and keeping the evening rolling along.
One in particular stood out in my mind, the short film 'Paper' directed by Ivan Kraljevic, who was also in attendance and spoke briefly and eloquently about the film after the screening. 'Paper' is a tight, engaging story of a poor, young Russian immigrant woman's struggle to make it in the USA. She is struggling to get out of the massage parlor business, but frustrated as her former boss there still has her passport. 'Paper' refers to the documents you need to legally work and live in the USA. She meets one young man, a photographer who falls for her, yet is torn by his lack of resources.
There were so many good short films here, though, too many to mention. Visit the festival's website to find out more about the films screened and plot summaries: smff.org.
After the film screenings, I walked a few blocks over to the small After Party held at a local bar and restaurant, which was itself very charming. Tinga is a new restaurant at 522 Wilshire in Santa Monica that serves Mexican fusion dishes and is what looks to be an outstanding taqueria. Sadly I didn't have the opportunity to taste the food, but just had a drink, but will be back soon to do so, since it looked just delicious and was reasonably priced, with a charming atmosphere.
In case you thought, as I did initially, because the film festival was free it would be packed, I was happily surprised that the seating was quite open, and this under-appreciated film festival well deserves a larger audience. This is their tenth year and the founder, David Katz, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking at the After Party, proved to be a kind and creative gentleman. I very much hope this festival finds a larger audience that it so well deserves. For more information, visit smff.org, hope to see you there next year!