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Catch new talent at the Sunscreen Film Festival

Leena Kurishingal, left, and Anders Erickson in The Art of Pain, making its world premiere.

Special to the Times

Leena Kurishingal, left, and Anders Erickson in The Art of Pain, making its world premiere.

The third annual showcase of barely discovered cinema talent continues through Saturday during the Sunscreen Film Festival at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg.

Seventy-three film and video works — shorts, documentaries and features — crowd the festival lineup. A complete schedule is available on the festival Web site,

Tonight's 8 o'clock centerpiece is the world premiere of Matt Brookens' The Art of Pain, a dark comedy that errs on the side of ambition — which isn't always a bad thing. Brookens is a fanboy breezing through genres — kung fu, rom-com, zombies, Kevin Smith buddy flicks, etc. — proving he can ably replicate and spoof them, in service of a slowly congealing plot.

Jack (Anders Erickson) is a budding artist working at a movie theater alongside his girlfriend (Lauren Bishop) and a comic-book geek (Greg Brookens). A new employee (John LaFlamboy) is a ninja school washout who believes that ruining Jack's life will enhance his art. It doesn't have to be every aspect of Jack's life but Brookens insists, sprucing up repetition with eye-catching animation and fantasy sequences.

The Art of Pain is emblematic of a first-showcase festival like Sunscreen: obviously the result of talent and ingenuity, yet probably not a breakout effort. But it does entertain and can possibly inspire other filmmakers. Brookens' movie and his future are worth watching.

Friday highlights include the voter apathy documentary Holler Back: (Not) Voting in an American Town (2:45 p.m.), and the world premiere of Screw Cupid (5:30), a romantic comedy crisply written and directed by Sanjeev Sirpal.

Friday also offers the first showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (9:30 p.m.), a shot-by-shot remake of Steven Spielberg's classic, by three Mississippi teenagers in the 1980s. This underground sensation plays again at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, just before the closing night party at 8:45.

Sunscreen is also about educating film artists; seminars are planned on subjects ranging from screenwriting (Friday, 4 p.m.) and distribution tactics (Saturday, 10 a.m.) to nailing that acting audition (today, 10 a.m.).

Of course, there are parties, including tonight's Fort Pastor concert at State Theater, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Tickets are $10 for the 8 p.m. show. Friday night's shindig, which begins at 9:30 p.m., is a Central Avenue block party between First and Fourth streets where filmmakers will mingle. Admission is free; cash bars.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Catch new talent at the Sunscreen Film Festival 03/19/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 4:48pm]
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