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Originally published May 17, 2012 at 5:34 AM | Page modified May 19, 2012 at 7:46 AM

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3 Minute Masterpiece winners help launch SIFF 2012

The 11 winning shorts in the 2012 3 Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest — chosen from 150 entries by judges from SIFF and The Seattle Times — range from comedies to dramas, live action to animation, silents to talkies.

Talking chickens, a shark named Kirby and a toddler on the rampage will star at Seattle International Film Festival on Saturday, May 19, when winners of the annual 3 Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest are screened for the public.

You're welcome to join us at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown to see the 11 winning films on the big screen. At that event, winners of three special awards will be announced: A grand prize; a J. Michael Rima award for a youth filmmaker; and a people's choice award, determined by polling on The Seattle Times ArtsPage blog.

In the meantime, watch the films online below.

Thank you to all the creative filmmakers who made this year's judging especially difficult -- but fun. We hope you all take part again next year.
— Seattle Times staff

"Construction/Deconstruction," by Brad Skiff of Bridgeport, Wash. When the animator is away, the Claymation penguins will play. That seems to be the moral of this ingenious creation. Co-starring with the pesky penguins is a clay shark credited as Kirby. "Why are penguins inherently funny?" asked one judge. "I don't know, but they are," answered Beth Barrett, director of programming at SIFF.

"Free Oatmeal," by Jeremy Cathey of Puyallup. Breakfast goes painfully awry in this old-fashioned black-and-white comedy. "Silent films are hard to pull off," said Barrett, "but this one captures the spirit and the style." Lead actor Jeremy Cathey -- who also directed, shot and edited -- earned special praise for emulating the great talents of the silent screen with period gestures and facial expressions.

"Godlizza," by Chad Perkins of Renton. This domestic drama veers into the realm of creature-feature fantasy with the help of elaborate sets, costumes, animation and slo-mo cinematography. "Very creative and alternative," declared judge Carl Spence, artistic director of SIFF. And very much in the 3 Minute Masterpiece spirit -- because it was made by a family, with an emphasis on fun.

"Hula Hoop," by Tess Martin of Seattle. The sand-animation technique used to create this gorgeous, one-minute masterpiece is extremely time-consuming, explained judge Barrett. "A film like this is painstakingly made, frame by frame," she said. The results are delightful, with one circular form magically mutating into another. Filmmaker Tess Martin is a member of SEAT -- the Seattle Experimental Animation Team, which promotes creative animation.

"Kickstarter Kidnap," written/directed by Trish Harnetiaux and Jacob A. Ware of Brooklyn, N.Y. It seems everyone is using the social-media fundraising tool Kickstarter to raise capital for creative projects. So the filmmakers decided to take the trend to its logical extreme: Their movie, a faux infomercial merging crime and capitalism, is "well-told and well-acted," according to the judges.

"Split-Minute," by Todd Gardiner of Redmond. This movie tells the story of a young man who lives life in hyperspeed so accelerated that ordinary people can't see him. "It's well-made, and a really fascinating idea," said Barrett. The judges appreciated that filmic techniques (green screen, high-speed photography) were utilized to tell the tale. And lead actor Chris Allen "carried the film," Spence said. "He was very believable."

"Car Alarm-B-Gone," by William Ross of Seattle. Anyone who's ever had revenge fantasies over car alarms that go, "Beep! Beep!" in the night will enjoy this live-action vignette. It's one of the more professionally executed movies of the bunch, with good sound, lighting and camera work; solid acting (Lacey Champlin and Aaron Toft); and an original score by Richie Blac. Funniest credit: Special thanks go to Rich Kroker, "for the use of his bed."

Under-18 winners

"A Chicken with a Dream," by Joey McManus of Seattle. Warning: This film contains fowl language -- specifically, three chickens and two geese trash-talking each other via voice-over. Our judges praised the movie's "clever screenwriting" -- including an obligatory take on the "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke.

"Alternative Energy," by Benjamin Davis of Bellevue. This Flash-animated film harnesses the power of rock 'n' roll, with a score composed and recorded by the filmmaker. Said Spence: "We loved the 'guicar'!" -- a kind of hybrid car/musical instrument that plays a crucial role in the plot. In the credits, the filmmaker gives a shout-out to Al Snap and the Lakeside School Digital Media Class.

"Have a Day," by Sho Schrock-Manabe of Seattle. A remarkable number of this year's entries started with a character waking up in bed. "Have a Day," created by 15-year-old Sho Schrock-Manabe, stood out among them because of the plot ("It took an unexpected twist," said Barrett) and the thoughtful use of camera angles to advance the story. The film shows that life is -- literally -- what you make it.

"Immigrant Sheep," by Mai Schrock-Manabe of Seattle. This movie follows the adventures and misadventures of a stuffed animal named "Sheepoo," who emigrates from a gift shop at Stonehenge to a home in Seattle. Eleven-year-old filmmaker Mai Schrock-Manabe performs the piano score and tucks in a little lesson about tolerance at the end. "Cute!" said Barrett. "Sweet!" echoed Spence. (And if Schrock-Manabe's name sounds familiar, it should; her brother, Sho, made "Have a Day" -- another winner, described above.)

•   •   •

Seattle International Film Festival opens its 38th edition Thursday night with Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" — the first festival opener shot right here in the Pacific Northwest and made by a native Seattleite. It's essentially a three-character comedy, and a thoroughly warmhearted and honest one. Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt play a pair of Seattle sisters; Mark Duplass is a friend who's sent to the sibs' vacation home in the San Juans for a little solitude but finds himself with unexpected company. An exquisitely awkward romantic triangle ensues — one that, thanks to the skill of the cast (who improvised much of their roles) and Shelton's careful eye, never feels anything less than entirely real. A step up from the talented Shelton's previous film — the funny but occasionally claustrophobic "Humpday," "Your Sister's Sister" should start the festival off laughing.

Opening Night details: 7 p.m. Thursday, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle. Tickets are $50 general admission (includes hors d'oeuvres, desserts and two drinks at a post-screening reception), $100 premium (includes all of the above plus open bar and preferred entry into the screening) or $225 for the "Red Carpet Experience" (includes the above plus valet parking, a gift bag and a prescreening reception). For more information: 206-324-9996 or The festival continues at various locations through June 10.

See our guide to navigating the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival: How to SIFF

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