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Filmmakers travel to De Pere for festival

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – Get Reel Cinema, 417 George St., burst to life last weekend as the MLC Awards Film Festival unfurled inside.

The gathering drew filmmakers from 10 states and Mexico, as well as cast, crew and fans.

For less than the price of a couple of movie tickets and popcorn, the Sept. 10 event gave viewers the opportunity to sample two dozen short films ranging from 6 to 35 minutes, three feature films, and several exhibition films.

Some of those represented filmmaker’s world debuts, while others had limited showings at other film festivals across the nation, Ann Myrna, advisor and senior panelist for the festival, said.

Brittany Christine and Indus Alelia got up before dawn to make their flight from Los Angeles.

The duo’s animated short is the pilot for a series called “Brandy & Ivy,” which is based on two best friends.

The two came up with the idea at the start of the pandemic, when both were bedridden at the same time – Christine from sun poisoning and Alelia from foot surgery.

“It was born out of desperation, and a need for comedy,” Christine told Freddy Moyano, filmmaker and president of the festival.

It won Best Series Episode.

Filmmaker and actor Trevilia Hodge came from Dallas to accept her Best COVID/Pandemic-Themed Film award for “Pandemic.”

It details a woman’s struggle to maintain an upbeat facade on Zoom while roiling in despair in her private life.

Her world falls apart – relatives die of the virus, and another is fatally shot by a police officer on his way to the hospital.

Hodge said she wrote the piece over a period of weeks, and her brother helped her film it on an iPhone.

She stars in it, as well, and urges anyone with a creative drive to “just do it.”

Moyano had high praise for “Pandemic” but said he’s ready to retire the category.

Future MLC independent film competitions will offer a Spanish language category instead of the COVID category.

MLC stands for mobster, Latino/Latinx, and comedy, which most of the films entered in the competitions have at least loose theme ties to, although MLC offers opportunities for other genres and subcategories.

About 30 films received commendations, including “The Spinning Man,” starring De Pere native Travis Stroessenreuther, known in the film world as Travis Mitchell.

He won two best actor awards for his role.

“I grew up going to this theater,” he said. “I saw ‘Karate Kid’ here. It’s so amazing to see my film up on the big screen here.”

Another man with local ties, Chris Opper of Door County, won Best Documentary for his feature, “Love on Holiday,” which took a behind-the-scenes look at the music festival by the same name in Sturgeon Bay.

The music festival pairs songwriters with pieces of art, about which they write and perform songs.

“I said, ‘Someone’s gotta make a movie about this,’” Opper said.

Opper, who also leads a film festival in Door County, announced his festival will feature a film by Manitowoc creator Melonie Gartner.

Gartner’s short, “Breathing Under Water,” was nominated for an MLC Best Midwest-Made Short award.

Aloft Green Bay hotel in Ashwaubenon and The Ennis Inn Hotel & Pub in De Pere also hosted facets of the festival.

More information about the festival can be found at MLCAwards.com.

The next MLC Awards event is in early 2022 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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