Independence, in short takes


In the week in which Hollywood honored its royalty, an awards program in Washington recognizes the serfs -- independent filmmakers -- and has tapped 14 Maryland-based producers among 22 nominees for the 1994 Rosebud Awards.

"We look for that spark of independent, creative vision," says Natasha Reatig, co-founder of the 4-year-old awards program.

Movie fans can look for the spark, too. All 22 nominated films will be presented in each of two "Rosebud Showcase" screenings this weekend at the Biograph Theater in Georgetown in Washington. Film producers will also be talking with guests at the intermission each day.

Five films will be named Rosebud recipients next month and screened April 24 as part of "Filmfest D.C.," at the American Film Institute (AFI) in Washington.

What are the movies about? Almost everything, says Ms. Reatig, and they range from standard documentaries to personal recollections to rock videos.

For example, "Cement Story," by Jonathan Sunshine of Baltimore, offers "a parable of how to keep the world nice," according to Ms. Reatig. In the seven-minute work, produced through the AFI Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies in Washington, a little girl seeks to protect a patch of freshly poured cement.

Gideon Brower of Baltimore made "Valentine" at Gilman School, telling what judges called a "fun-spirited" tale of hormones bursting when a French nurse arrives at a spring blood drive.

Baltimorean Jeff Stacy's "Blue Jean Jacket" deals with the sadness of a grandfather he never knew, and Bump Stadelman of Baltimore pays homage to the Beat Generation in "Beat Generator," a three-minute collection of imagery praised by judges as a "fabulous synthesis of sight and sound."

Ms. Reatig also said one area filmmaker, a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, entered under a pseudonym because her film was so deeply personal.

"In Memoriam to an Identity," by R. Vaughn, deals with her own experiences in a trans-racial family, and was described as "creative and personal" by the judges.

According to a judging summary, "clearly visible themes are exhibited in this year's selection -- enlightening examinations of personal identity, generational legacy, civil unrest and subcultures are given voice and vision."

Other Maryland-based nominees and their films include:

* "Intolerable," by Dara Padwo (a 1991 Rosebud nominee) and Mark Casale of Burtonsville.

* "Step by Step," by Karen Kenton of Silver Spring.

* "Gabriel's Dream," by Eduardo Sanchez of Chevy Chase.

* "Mm-Meg!", by Samuel Sullivan of Mount Ranier.

* "In a cell of his own thought . . .", by Alex Pacheco of College Park.

* "Raising Kane," by Laurance Rassin, Darryl Frank and Brad Mendelsohn, of Silver Spring.

* "Fast Game Fast Money: The Grifters of New York," by Edward Bishop, Pericles Lewnes and Lisa De Lucia of Arnold.

* "The Holy Bible," by Erick Blankinship, Benjamin Duncan and Federico Gray, of Damascus.

* "Pool Days," by Brian Sloan of Kensington.

The other nominees are from Washington and Virginia.

Rosie Dempsey, co-director of the Rosebud Awards, said the nominees range widely in age and experience, "from the first-time filmmaker to seasoned veterans." Some make a living at it while others are students.

"We judge all the films against our goals" to foster creative independent film, adds Ms. Reatig. She notes the name of the award evokes Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane," made at an early point of his career and perhaps representing his most creative, experimental work.

'Rosebud Showcase'

When: 11:30 a.m. to 5:10 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday

Where: Biograph Theater, 2819 M St. N.W., Washington

Tickets: $6

Call: (202) 797-9081

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