Finding something to do with the weekend can be a chore as several venues and organizations fight for your weekend afternoon and evenings to help you wind down from an eventful work week. Of these, bars are often a go to spot and, notably in Charlotte, breweries, as so many have opened and are opening that they’re now established staples in the Queen City. These two and half day periods are filled with the regular and irregular for while several options operate like clockwork, others spring up from time to time and those quick enough to catch them, opt in for a unique experience and can verify that they truly passed the time well, whether they be visiting from afar or claim locality in the ever increasing population. What you may not have noticed is that twice a year in these factories of hops and gardens, is the cumulation of creativity and drink, where one can find a flight of beers specific to the area paired along with short films, often made and distributed by the people who frequent these very breweries in their day to day lives. This is what Films on Tap has to offer, the platform Sean Beck has spear headed in order to showcase the creative endeavors of the growing native film scene and exhibit the parallel rise of the craft beer capita of the South.
This spring, the Films on Tap was presented by Birdsong Brewery on a subtle rainy Monday in NoDa, where filmmakers, planners and audience members alike came together for their flights. Analogous to the beers, the variation of films was wide as it opened with ‘Kamen’, a beautifully shot, admittedly overseas, story dealing with the relationship of commitment to kinship in the wake of mass political agreement reminiscent of ‘The Lottery’ when one individual struggles to defend another. Immediately apparent is the originality that one would expect from a painting or sculpture, where the work is generally attributed to one person for despite the obvious teamwork involved in the completion of a film, the directors being able to introduce their films beforehand give you a glimpse into the dimension of filmmakers you didn’t know were making movies. A woman, Lile Sizemore, husband of writer/director She and very large helping hand, introduced the film.*
‘Good Hair’ followed, a project by real-life comedic romance duo Fray Forde and Catherine Dee Holly that touches upon how even simple acts, or misacts, can carry historical and emotional gravity that has been left unsaid until the turning point. Almost split in half, the first portion showcases the comic writing of the two, and the real-life relationship captured on-screen, though not entirely new, for let us remember Bogart and Bacall, adds to the authenticity of their reactions. In particular, I did find the more dramatic conclusion more captivating and felt it had given each their fair shake as the audience was left with a resonant relationship ordeal. Again, it was observed that this was a film with an interracial relationship, and that aspect didn’t drive the plot or content of the film. Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’, though brilliant in itself, loses much of its punch on the indie film market. If anything, it noted African Americans and redheads can have some pretty interesting hair and if you ever feel enclosed in a relationship, pick up the aptly named, ‘Doin’ Thhyme Witbier!
So from foreign language to relationship comedy, we land upon the horror genre. ‘The Hidden’, made by Christopher Baker and winner of ‘Best Scripted Film’ in the 100 words film festival is a welcome shake to our expectations of cinema as encouraged by the limitations. In this brief film, the audience was aroused with creepiness and thrills as child actor Pierce Russel Pope, signed with local talent agency, Evolution, gave us a quick jump with a well done twist on the ‘monster under my bed’ story.
Documentary took to the stand next with ‘A Life on Two Wheels’ and while a little more straightforward in production value, I had this film quoted to me about encouragement less than an hour later. The story being told is about a man in his twilight years who loves to ride his bike to the point of physical exhaustion (for it beats mental exhaustion), to release all those endorphins granted to us by nature that are cheaply and poorly substituted by social media outlets. A major accident that nearly ended his cycling escapades simply had him stating he’d rather go out riding his bike, than falling out of bed, a testament to that whenever death takes us by surprise, and it will, will you be doing what you love?
Closure was ignited with the hip and contemporary, literally, backseat romance, ‘Crass’. The rawness of the situation of two awkward people trying to find out how to get to that next step on an early, though not first date, is so universally understood, there is no doubt real life experiences guided this script to be a crowd favorite. It is a perfect example of how you can pack deep human emotions, thought, and real sweetness between two people, in nothing more than a car. People generate all that anyone can want to see on screen with their bodies and voices because in any film, that’s where the lasting connections are formed as it was made apparently through the night.
Despite the advancements of technology and social media, major blockbusters and wide releases continue to dominate the public thought of what cinema and movie making is and should look like. Films on Tap is a fresh reminder that despite the larger teams often needed to be assembled, cinema is just another medium to express the human experience and in this evening that ranged from wordless film, to modern relationships and looking to our elders, one will have discovered more diversity and engagement in two hours than the same time spent at the major movie theatre. Even if you don’t agree with the films, you are likely to at least feel something beyond ‘That was ok, I can’t wait to see if they franchise it and make a seven arc saga’. None of these imply follow ups, but they all do exhibit the creative human spirit and with introductions by the filmmakers in an intimate setting, this twice a year festival is a great way to be re-introduced to cinema, perhaps the way it was first presented over one hundred years prior.
*This article has been corrected that Shea, not Lile (previously misattributed) directed the film.