Sweded Film Festival wants short films remaking classics

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Kim Strong
| Beaver County Times


For frustrated filmmakers and creative actors, Brian Mendelssohn has a homework assignment for you.

He’s the owner of Row House CInema in Pittsburgh, an art movie theater in a historic rowhome in the city. During the pandemic, he’s gotten creative with a drive-in theater in the city’s Strip District, a virtual cinema of curated films to watch online, and a Quarantine Cat Film Fest (for those of us with cat humor).

This time, he’s re-creating his annual Sweded Film Festival for Creative Re-Creations, and he’s looking for some films. They need to be three- to five-minute remakes of a famous movie. 

But hold off on the fancy sets and costumes and slow down on film trickery. This is meant to be creative. The use of a blue bed sheet and a paper shark helped “Jaws” take home the prize for top film in a previous year.

The idea of the festival comes from the comedy “Be Kind, Rewind.” In the movie, an employee at a VHS rental store (raise your hand if you remember what that is) remakes famous movies with no fancy set or costumes. The film festival has taken on the genre.

“Four years ago, we started here in Pittsburgh,” Mendelssohn said. “It just did very well. The audience just loved it. The creative people making the movies really enjoyed it, too.” 

What works?

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“The funnier, the better,” he said, although the biggest vote-getter of all time was a dark version of “Willy Wonka.”

And here are some other tips from Mendelssohn: “We want it to be flat – standard movie screen size and PG-13,” he said. “You can be a little racy, but if it’s R we’re not gonna put it in.”

Also, “Don’t do an ‘Avengers’ movie. We’ve never seen a good one.”

This year, it will be a virtual film festival through art houses in a variety of locations across the United States, including Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Film entries must be received by Nov. 15, but register by Nov. 1. 

A feature-length compilation of homegrown “Sweded” films will premiere Nov. 30 in virtual cinemas and, where possible, select cinemas nationwide.


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