Lexus and The Weinstein Company announced at the Tokyo Short Film Festival this morning the launch of their fourth Lexus Short Film series, this time looking for submissions that capture the theme of “transformation.” Filmmakers can submit their films for consideration utilizing Withoutabox, and the contest will be judged by executives of The Weinstein Company along with a filmmaker selection committee that includes Taylor Sheridan, who just won Best Director prize in the Director’s Fortnight category at Cannes for his film Wind River. The program is supervised by TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein and COO David Glasser, with TWC’s Joey Horvitz returning to produce the next series of films. “The Lexus Short Films project is a way for us to give back and support the creative community that always inspires us as a brand,” said Spiros Fotinos, Global Head of Brand Management and Marketing at Lexus.
Tomorrow, Lexus and TWC release online the four winning films from Season 3 that were chosen from 4,600 submissions – Prime Video via Amazon Video Direct and http://www.LexusShortFilms.com will air them– but they are allowing Deadline to show them to you today. I saw the shorts and moderated a panel with the filmmakers at the last Napa Valley Film Festival, and the filmmakers were a very charming lot with big dreams and talent, ripe for discovery along with the onscreen talent they put to work for peanuts in these films.
We’ll start with Friday Night, a tense drama by Alexis Michalik that is troublingly prescient given the recent terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Michalik is an actor-turned-director whose short is readily adaptable to a feature (it won numerous short film prizes at festivals). But even last fall at Napa, Michalik was reluctant to take that leap; a recent cycle of terror attacks in his home country made the whole thing feel inappropriate and painful to him. He has instead been set to write and direct his first film, Edmond.
MESSiAH is a decided change of pace, written, directed and produced by Australian filmmaker Damian Walshe-Howling. He is an actor best known for his work on the TV series Underbelly and a bunch of Aussie films. He has taken advantage of his proximity to the Australian Outback for a short about the lengths people go to find spiritual enlightenment.
Game is by writer/director Jeannie Donohoe, who earned her MFA in Directing from Columbia and is now based in Los Angeles where she has directed a bunch of lauded shorts including this one about how the competition to make the school basketball squad can take surprising turns.
Finally, there is The Nation Holds Its Breath, a poignant comedy by Kev Cahill, a Trinity College Dublin grad who scratched his way from working as a DJ for Red Bull to selling smoothies at festivals and running a wholesale fruit company until he crashed his van and started working in movies doing VFX work on everything from Game of Thrones to Star Wars VIII and Fantastic Beasts. Now, he’s turned to directing. He captures a dilemma that cuts to the core of any Irishman football fan: as the protagonist’s wife prepares to deliver their first child, the most important football match in Irish history is unfolding. The dilemma: choose between historic events and either stand beside his wife to witness the miracle of childbirth, or instead witness the miracle of the Irish national team reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup.