Short Film: THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE, 5min., Music Documentary

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The Blessing and the Curse is the surprising and inspiring story of folk, Americana, and rockabilly musician Lance Canales, who rose from humble California Central Valley farmworker beginnings to prominence in the international music scene.

Starting from his modest upbringing in the small campesino town of Orosi, California, we follow Canales on his journey from childhood to adulthood to his ongoing drive to bring working-class folk music to the masses.

Canales garnered a reputation as a child of being able to train wild horses, and for years took lumps to help his family make ends-meet. It wasn’t until he confiscated an older sister’s beat-up guitar and combined it with his vocals that he discovered (in his mother’s fire-and-brimstone church) that he was able to pursue music as a way to slowly carve out a path from his hard-toil life.

Following Canales into adulthood, we learn about his deep-seated desire to bring working-class spiritual folk music to the masses. Through sweat and determination, Canales records over five albums and tours throughout the world to enthusiastic audiences. He recently completed a two-month European tour, where his album hit number five on the European charts in the Americana category.

Additionally, Canales collaborated with Nora Guthrie, the Guthrie Foundation, and his childhood friend, American Book Award-winning Valley author Tim Z. Hernandez, on a concert to raise $10,000 for a memorial headstone for the 28 deportees project. Canales initiated the idea and fundraising effort to place a memorial headstone with the names of the 28 deportees and plane crash victims who were discovered buried nameless in a mass grave in Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, California. Canales’ idea was to record and read the names of the deportees in the background of Canales’ cover of the famous Woody Guthrie song about the incident.

In September 2013, in a historic moment, the headstone was unveiled and hundreds of people attended from all over the country, including coverage by The New York Times. A Los Angeles Times reporter captured a shot of Canales kneeling down to the unveiled monument in a moment of clear emotional triumph next to the grandson of one of the plane crash victims. Hernandez’ corresponding book, All They Will Call You, was recently released in January 2017 and is a genre-bending work labeled a “documentary novel” based on the Woody Guthrie song, Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee).

Today, Canales is with Americana folk label Music Road Records, which put out his album, The Blessing and the Curse.

Canales recently ended a two-month European tour in tandem with his internationally and critically acclaimed album. Yet, with all that, Canales stays local and rooted in the Central Valley. He plans to “make it” while keeping his home-base in the heart of California. The question is, can a local artist truly thrive internationally while staying based in the Valley? Is it imperative for a musician or artist to move to LA, NYC or Nashville to make a career? Or can that be achieved while living in the Valley, and if so, what are the challenges and benefits of doing so?

But in addition to his personal journey, we are now seeking funding for a feature-length documentary to simultaneously tell the unusual story of Americana’s enormous and surprising popularity abroad, a particularly noteworthy oddity in today’s political climate. It’s a cultural subject we haven’t yet seen fully explored.

In general, the entire documentary would be told through interviews, live events, and theatrical recreations. Animations and other motion graphics elements would be incorporated into the video. The visual feel will be that of a retro vibe.

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Short Film: ECLOSION, 5min., Canada, Experimental

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Ann, who has just turned 20, is ashamed of the way she looks, especially the freckles on her face. She dreams to one day feel beautiful, and go from caterpillar to butterfly.

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Short Film: THE FIRE WITHIN, 5min., USA, Music Video

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Award-winning pianist/composer Jennifer Thomas teams up with The Rogue Pianist (Kimberly StarKey) in this epic piece that illustrates the fire within us all.

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Short Film: INCLINATIONS, 5min., France, Dance

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Choreographed, directed and shot from disability perspectives, this dance-on-video short contrasts the playful connections when disability aesthetics, community and a ramp meet the institutional histories and discordant inclinations that can lurk just below the surface.

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Short Film: EMERGENCE, 5min., USA, Dance

Directed and Conceived by Klaus Hoch, “Emergence” is dance music video shot as a single, continuous drone take. “Emergence” features live music composed and performed by Peter Manning Robinson playing his Refractor Piano™, with choreography by Emilio Dosal.

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Short Film: WEIGHTLESS, 5min., Canada, Dance

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What happens when we allow ourselves to shift perspectives? When we defy established concepts such as “direction”? Perhaps, just perhaps, up is not up, and we need to look down.
Weightless is an invitation to create an alternative reality. To imagine a world where the rules we believe unbreakable are simply an option. We invite you to get lost in your thoughts and the satisfaction of defying our most established understandings.

Short Film: UHAMBO, 5min., Australia, Dance

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Uhambo is a short film about a youth embarking on a journey of discovery of his own culture after being in Australia for 10 years. It explores the idea of reconnecting with people of his origin, through dance and culture.

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