Though the film buzz in New York City is finally tapering off with the May close of the 4th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, a local frenzy has just kicked into gear around June's Amazon.com/Tribeca Short Film Competition. Denver's Front Range Films, with its short, Post Traumatic, has bested no fewer than 1,000 competitors to become one of five finalists soon to be screened at Tribeca Cinemas. Depending on how votes stack up over the next month, Post Traumatic could win the contest's $50,000 grand prize.
Gina Scalzi, a Colorado Springs resident and veteran actress, lent her talent as one of three cast members in the concisely staged seven-minute production.
"I'm overwhelmed with Denver and the Front Range's contribution to filmmaking," says Scalzi. "This is a growing indie film market, and I think there's a hotbed of creativity here."
James Seale, director of Post Traumatic, stands as proof to Scalzi's assertion and agrees on the region's potential.
"I want to make Colorado a film center and produce more films here," says Seale. "There's an amazing amount of talent on both sides of the camera here, and I think over the next five years or so that will be recognized."
Post Traumatic is the story of an American soldier recently home from Iraq, struggling to re-adjust and contend with disturbing flashbacks. In Seale's words, "It's a conspiracy thriller about the sole survivor of a failed Black Ops raid in Fallujah and the mystery that surrounds what really happened."
Scalzi plays the soldier's love interest, who shifts from being his only confidant to yet another potentially untrustworthy person.
"The trick was to form a visually telling story to deal with the war's trauma and create suspense in a short time frame, but ultimately it was the actors who pulled it off," says Seale.
Voting on amazon.com occurred in an arguably haphazard manner: A rotation cue sorted entries randomly so that visitors would receive different collections of films each time they logged on. Individual filmmakers had no better access than average amazon.com guests to select or support their film, and no single applicant could run and tell 500 friends to vote for his or her movie. Armloads of fine films were weeded out in judging that ended up being as honest as possible.
As voting on Tribeca's final five begins, the likelihood of proponents launching PR campaigns to choose a winner increases. Each film will run for one week on amazon.com, and anyone who desires can go directly to the film and vote.
"At this point, there's no control," says Seale. "We think we have a pretty good chance to win because our film has stood out enough thus far through random viewership."
In addition to their recent work on Post Traumatic, both Scalzi and Seale remain busy inside the independent film industry. In the Fall, Seale completed work on Throttle, a feature-length film shot in Denver, and he currently is at work on Safe Haven, which he hopes will earn a theatric release upon completion.
Scalzi won Best Supporting Actress in a Feature Film at the 2004 New York International Independent Film Festival for Shadow Game. This summer she will lend work to the films Document, Pathways and Sensei.
-- Matthew Schniper
To watch Post Traumatic, log on to amazon.com between May 31 and June 5 and follow the links to the Tribeca Short Film Competition pages.