Poppy Jasper Film Festival Returns

Moviegoers watch a locally made short film during the first day

Second annual festival in Morgan Hill attracts a higher caliber
of talent
Morgan Hill – It’s Poppy Jasper II: The Sequel.

Morgan Hill’s film festival named after the city’s unique geological heritage is back, and festival organizers say this year’s event is bigger and better.

“The quality of films is significantly better,” head juror Gary Berger said. “The films have significantly more crew on them, very well done computer graphics and special effects, better scripts and acting, better audio. Some of these are indistinguishable from movies you would pay to see in a theater except they’re shorter.”

The better batch of films – all of which are 30 minutes or shorter – comes from the festival’s expanded reach. Last year, the movies were from the Bay Area. This year’s festival features local work and films from up and down California.

And on the first day, one of the crowd favorites was “Artistic License,” a existential crisis comedy by Los Angeles filmmaker Divi Crockett about a overly creative DMV photographer.

“That was my favorite,” Gilroy student Justin Lance said. “It took a different look at something everyone hates.”

Ken and Carol Emmons praised several of the shorts, including “Dana’s Dream,” by Gavilan College Professor Grant Richards.

“It was very clever,” Carol Emmons. “We like independent films. We don’t like the glitzy Hollywood movies with the guts and the sex. These are very inventive, creative and imaginative. And they’re short, if you don’t like something it will be over soon.”

While the films are still short, the festival has expanded greatly, adding a third day of screenings and full slate of workshops where people can learn about screenwriting, camera operating techniques, editing and how to get their work seen and noticed.

And there are some unusual screening locations. Saturday night, local architect Charles Weston will open the redesigned Granary building for the first time to the public. The festival concludes with an award ceremony on Sunday.

Organizers are particularly excited about Women in Film, a panel discussion featuring four women with established careers in the movie industry.

“I got a ticket for that right away,” said event volunteer Kathy Sullivan. “I’m very interested to see what the women have to say about trying to make it in that world.”

Sullivan is just one of the scores of volunteers, some of whom work year-round to build the festival into what they hope will become a premier west coast film event. She said she volunteers to support the local arts community.

“I love Morgan Hill and I love the arts,” Sullivan said. “And when you see something that encourages the arts in your hometown you’re going to try and support it.”

The Poppy Jasper Film Festival continues through Sunday. Tickets for screenings range from $10 for a single anthology of short films to $55 for access to all screenings, the key note address, and awards ceremony. In addition to the Granada Theater and Community Playhouse, events and screenings will be held at Cinelux Theaters, Morgan Hill Access Television, The Granary, Gavilan College, Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center and Specialized Bikes.

Tickets are available at events and Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, 17450 Monterey Road Morgan Hill Access Television, 82 E. Second St.

The Poppy Jasper Film Festival

What is Poppy Jasper?

Poppy Jasper is a semi-precious stone unique to Morgan Hill characterized by red and poppy-yellow circles on a field of white or black. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the stone is found only in Morgan Hill. Poppy jasper is on display in City Hall, the Morgan Hill Library and the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center.

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