Hyart Film Festival this weekend in Lovell

The sixth annual Hyart Film Festival kicks off tonight (Thursday) in Lovell with a bang and continues through Saturday night at the historic Hyart Theatre.

Festival director Jason Zeller said the festival will feature a science fiction night and the best of the animated films from the festival, plus some past favorites, a full-length feature film and the sequel to last year’s award-winning “Absaroka” filmed in Northwest Wyoming.

Films have already been pre-judged, but festival attendees will still vote for the annual People’s Choice Award.

There is no horror category this year, Zeller said, but a new genre has been added: historical film, some of which have already received high marks from judges.

“We have a pretty good distribution of quality over the three nights,” Zeller said.

Each session will run just about two hours, he said. Sessions begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plus the animated session Saturday at 3 p.m.

Here’s a look at this year’s lineup:

Thursday, June 18, is Sci-Fi Night, featuring two short films plus the full-length feature “RZ-9” – the first feature length film to be shown at the festival. “RZ-9” is the full length version of last year’s short “2020” that won the award for the best science fiction film at the 2014 Hyart Film Festival.

An Eraser, played by Ethan McDowell, left, searches for some rebels during the science fiction film “RZ-9.” The first feature length film to be shown at the Hyart Film Festival, “RZ-9” will be screened tonight (Thursday) during the science fiction session of the festival, along with two short films. Courtesy Photo
An Eraser, played by Ethan McDowell, left, searches for some rebels during the science fiction film “RZ-9.” The first feature length film to be shown at the Hyart Film Festival, “RZ-9” will be screened tonight (Thursday) during the science fiction session of the festival, along with two short films.
Courtesy Photo

“RZ-9” stars former Lovell resident and 1998 LHS graduate Ethan McDowell, who will attend the festival Thursday night and be available after the film to visit and answer questions (see related story).

According to a synopsis on the Internet Movie Data Base, “RZ-9” is about “a computer scientist and a drone pilot put on a hit list due to his religious beliefs. He and his sister are pursued by super soldiers called Erasers,” who are tasked with capturing the duo dead or alive. McDowell plays an Eraser in pursuit the brother and sister.

Also being shown Thursday are the short films “Phoenix” and “Schnitzel.”

“I really liked ‘RZ-9,’ but ‘Schnitzel’ is a really funny sci-fi,” Zeller said. “It’s about a space alien who comes to earth and gets stuck in a schnitzel.”

As for Friday night, Zeller said he loves the film “Green Gold,” a “comedic mockumentary” about “the other reason we went to war in Iraq in 1992.”

The film uses historical footage from that time period to make it seem realistic, he said, adding, “I just found it hilarious.”

Another film Zeller enjoyed for Friday night is “Recycled Plastic,” he said, adding, “It’s really cool how you can feel hopeful and joyful about an inanimate object. This movie made me feel that way.”

The final film of the Friday session is “I am Sami,” another film about Iraq and the relationship between a soldier and a young boy. The soldier has to arrest the boy’s father and the boy has a choice to make, retain his friendship with the Americans or turn the other way and declare the Americans the enemy.

Zeller said some “big names” show up on Friday night in the films including Christopher Lloyd of “Back to the Future” fame and Kathryn Morris from the “Cold Case” TV series, in “The Coin.”

Saturday afternoon’s session includes the best of the animated films including Zeller’s own “Greetings” about spacemen arriving on earth and encountering a snowman and the popular “Escape of the Gingerbread Man.” Also being shown that afternoon are the best action comedy from the 2010 festival, “Liam and Ben,” about two boys trying to rid the world of vegetables, the 2011 People’s Choice winner “Buon Giorno Sayonara” about an Italian man and a Japanese woman who spend the afternoon together even though they cannot speak each other’s language and the 2013 People’s Choice winner “Incident at Public School 173” about a school cafeteria food fight.

Saturday night’s lineup includes the world premiere of the historical film “Iron Dream” about the French Revolution and “A Good Story,” a film about a woman who wants to purchase a vase and must tell the shop owner a story in order to obtain the vase. Also being shown is “With Best Regards,” a comedy about a woman trying to meet a man by leaving a note on his windshield.

The final film of the festival is the sequel to last year’s People’s Choice winner “Absaroka” entitled “Absaroka Sins,” again featuring some Big Horn Basin actors including writer/director Patrick Mignano, a part-time Cody resident, and Clay Gibbons of Worland.

“Absaroka Sins was filmed in the Cody area with one of the most expensive cameras money can buy, and the shots show it,” Zeller said. “It is a visually stunning film.”

By David Peck