More than 40 short films for Morgan Hill’s Poppy Jasper Festival

Free film class at Gavilan College in Morgan Hill

Morgan Hill goes Hollywood this month when the seventh annual
Poppy Jasper Short Film Festival brings independent
– and several famous – filmmakers to town to chat with South
Valley cinema buffs about the art and craft of moviemaking.
Morgan Hill goes Hollywood this month when the seventh annual Poppy Jasper Short Film Festival brings independent – and several famous – filmmakers to town to chat with South Valley cinema buffs about the art and craft of moviemaking.

The festival, which was named in honor of Morgan Hill’s official gemstone, will showcase more than 40 short films submitted from filmmakers across the United States as well as Germany, England and Canada. Films vary in length from a couple of minutes to 30 minutes, the maximum time allowed for festival submission.

Poppy Jasper organizers are expecting up to eight of the filmmakers to attend the festival which will take place Friday through Sunday.

The festival’s jurors watched more than 90 submitted short films before selecting the final group of films that will be shown this year, said George Panos, a juror. Categories of films include comedy, drama, creative media, documentary and social commentary.

“There is a sense of surprise almost every time you watched one of the (submitted) films,” Panos said. “Not only was I highly entertained, but as a juror, as I watched their work, I became acutely aware of seeing the film creator’s dreams come alive right before my eyes.”

From its founding, the Poppy Jasper Film Festival has strived to support up-and-coming filmmakers, said Jay Jaso, festival marketing chairman and co-founder.

“We believe that young, independent filmmakers should be encouraged to pursue their passion and their dream for telling their stories on film. We hope that one day, a filmmaker will receive a major award – perhaps an Oscar – and will attribute some of his or her success to the support provided by the Poppy Jasper.”

The festival will also host special parties and workshops for film buffs to chat with the film producers and other industry professionals about the creative process in making movies.

Victor Miller, the screenwriter of the original “Friday the 13th” flick, will teach a workshop on how to write a dynamic script.

Other scheduled guests involved in the filmmaking production in Los Angeles included producers Terri Hanauer, Peter Lefcourt, Fiona Gubelmann, and Ray Luna. Joe Estevez, the brother of actor Martin Sheen and producer of films such as “Iron Soldier” and “Dark Crossing,” will be the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony on Nov. 12 at the CineLux theater.

This year, the festival will host a special “Evening with Luis Valdez” event where the writer and director of films such as “Zoot Suit” and “La Bamba,” as well as the founder and resident playwright of San Juan Bautista’s El Teatro Campesino, will engage in a lively conversation with South Valley film buff Teresa Alvarado.

This event will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Little Theater at Live Oak High School. It will raise funds for scholarships to be given to Morgan Hill students interested in film careers.

“The Poppy Jasper is different than most other festivals,” said Bob Snow, co-chair for the local festival. “Most other festivals, you buy a ticket and see just one long film.

With the Poppy Jasper, you can buy a ticket for a screening and see a combination of comedy, drama and other genres. So you get to see a good variety of filmmaking subject and styles.”

The festival was started as a project of the Media Access Coalition of Central California as a fundraiser to support Morgan Hill’s public access television station, MHAT-19 (cable channel 19 in Morgan Hill). It merged into its own non-profit organization and now provides education scholarships for students going into film studies, Snow said. Ryan Colton, a 2010 Live Oak High School graduate, received the Poppy Jasper Film Festival scholarship this year.

The Festival

– Friday through Sunday at CineLux Tennant Station Stadium 11, 750 Tennant Avenue, Morgan Hill

– 47 short films, guest speakers, workshops and other festivities

– Tickets can be purchased at poppyjasperfilmfest.org. Details: 782-8087

– Tickets can also be purchased at the BookSmart store located at 82 East Second St. in downtown Morgan Hill or at the Garlic City Bookstore located at 7490 Monterey St. in downtown Gilroy.

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