Northern Virginia-based filmmakers ranging from teenage amateurs to seasoned professionals presented their latest work at the Cabin Fever Film Fest on Jan. 24 and 25 at Purcellville's Franklin Park Arts Center.
Fourteen short films were screened during the event, beginning with three Friday evening. "One Nation Under a Groove," a music video co-produced by Mike Ellison of Arcola, opened the festival and was followed by "A Brush with History," a documentary written, directed and edited by Nora Kubach. The film documents the history of Alexandria's Torpedo Factory Art Center, a former munitions facility that became a collection of art studios after decades of vacancy.
"[My team and I] just loved that idea, we loved the story of transformation," Kubach said. "It's really an amazing piece of Alexandria history but also history and just history in general."
Ellison's poetic short documentary "United We Stand," a tribute to Detroit-based visual artist Charles McGee, rounded out the evening's screenings. After program organizer Liz Jarvis moderated a brief question-and-answer session with Ellison and Kubach, guests and all of the weekend's featured filmmakers gathered for a social hour and enjoyed light refreshments. Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser also presented the filmmakers with certificates honoring their work.
"As I stand here we are reminded that the vision precedes the provision," Fraser said, thanking the artists for "seeing what we do not see ... and bringing it into reality."
The next morning began with three more documentary screenings: Andrew Ouellette's "The Lost Forest," which advocates against the removal of old-growth forest in Loudoun; "The Long Road Home," a story produced by ABC-7 WJLA reporter Jay Korff about the county's historic gravel roads; and "Overreach from the Oval Office," 15-year-old homeschool student Thomas McKenna's evaluation of executive actions in the American presidency.
During the Q&A panel that followed, McKenna discussed his motivation to execute his vision despite a number of challenges — for one, he is too young to drive.
"What if, instead of saying [to the 2020 presidential candidates], 'You should take this action,' what if I said, 'Why don't you give this authority to Congress and stop taking so much action just as one person in the Oval Office?'" he said. "The budget was train tickets, really. That was it."
Eight more films were shown during the rest of the event, many of which were scripted stories. Loudoun Valley High School senior Maddy Wade directed two narrative features, "Crunch — A Tragedy" and "Kindness Club," with older sister Sophia Wade acting as the latter's writer, sound designer, art director and makeup artist. Maddy Wade also starred in "Josie's Movie," an ode to teenage film fanaticism directed by Thomas Youngs.
Other presentations included dramatic short "Electric Jenny" and silent comedy "Unexpected Delivery." One more film produced by Ellison — "Covalence," rounded out the lineup, followed by a final filmmaker panel.
A full list of the films screened at the 2020 Cabin Fever Film Fest is available at franklinparkartscenter.org/exhibitions/cabinfeverfilmfest/index.html.