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REVIEW: Rodgers' 'Doorkeeper' looks promising among Shorts' finalists


The first night of the 16th Annual Arkansas Shorts was an evening full of laughter, tears, beauty, inspiration and the charm that comes with the product of film students.

Shorts will begin again today at 11 a.m., but of the three out of five finalist films screened Friday, I predict Havilah Galaxy Rodgers' Doorkeeper will win at least one of the awards to be given on Sunday.

This genuine, raw and vulnerable look into the human condition is a breathtaking film illustrating a beautiful escape.

Rodgers' was the only cast in the film, and at just 21 years old the local filmmaker holds much promise in a creative career.

The other two finalist films screened Friday were Levi Matthew Smith and Blake Dean Allen's Double Trouble! and Mike Stutz's Call of the Clown Horn.

And while Rodgers' film looks promising thus far, there are still two more finalist films left to be screened: Gabriel Liam Cook Henk's Crossing Tides — which has garnered high praise from fellow filmmakers — and Marc E Crandall's Banana Triangle Six.

Crossing Tides and Banana Triangle Six will screen today in the 4:30 p.m. film block.

This year's Arkansas Shorts has proven to be a great promotion for the now-year-long film program in Hot Springs, Inception to Projection, as it’s using nearly half of the screenings to show off the students’ work.

The Inception to Projection Film that blew me away Friday was Brad Burleson-Popp's Communion Day. The film follows the story of a young gay boy offering communion in a church, and a couple in the congregation refuses to take part.

The film was not only well-done in the sense of acting and quality, but the true story behind it is what had me floored. Not only did a similar occurrence happen to Burleson-Popp in the local First United Methodist Church, but Bill Sardin, the pastor involved, played the film's protagonist.

The film comes at a time the methodist denomination is split on whether or not members of the LGBTQ+ community can be clergymen or wed in the church — and the film does not hesitate to call this out, using the mouth of Sardin.

The truly moving film provoked goosebumps and afterward received a "yes!" from one audience member and huge applause from everyone.

Burleson-Popp has one more film to be screened today in the 7:30 p.m. film block: Wedding Day. The filmmaker says this film that's another true story from his own life is "even better."

One more Inception film to note is Katie Windham's Show and Tell. This genuinely funny and light classic short film received a lot of audience laughs and applause. It was "something for all the brave kids and badass moms."

Arkansas Shorts will continue today at 11 a.m. in the Malco Theatre. Click here for the full film schedule.

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