Produce Iowa
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Produce Iowa

The Film Lounge: Iowa to Hollywood

From a basement in Cedar Rapids to the glamour of the Academy Awards, the sixth season of “The Film Lounge” touches on many genres, sights and sounds.

“The Film Lounge” is an annual showcase of short films created by Iowa filmmakers. Each episode celebrates the work of Iowa filmmakers, acquaints viewers with the state’s vibrant film communities and explores the art of filmmaking.

In “Doubt,” for example, Cedar Rapids filmmaker Godfreed Ebong tells a story about a mixed martial arts fighter who triumphs over adversity. Ebong himself overcame some challenges during the production.

From left: ”Frozen Out” by Tyler Hill and Hao Zhou of Iowa City, “Doubt” by Godfreed Ebong of Cedar Rapids, and “Lo/ve” by Tempest Montgomery of Iowa City.

“When video of a past fight did not exist, I repurposed footage to embody the struggle,” Ebong said. “Stumbling during a training run juxtaposed against fight commentary became a metaphor for fights lost. In the end, (the fighter) picked himself up again, and I hope viewers are inspired by that.”

From left: A behind-the-scenes feature about a film by Beau Batterson of Waterloo, “Ghost Creek” by Benjamin Handler of Iowa City, and “Birdsong” by Paul Huenemann of Cedar Rapids.

This year’s broadcast includes a spotlight feature about “The Last Minute Till Midnight,” which Beau Batterson filmed entirely in a Cedar Rapids basement with the use of green screens. It’s all about creativity on a shoestring budget.

Another spotlight feature focuses on Burlington’s Snake Alley Festival of Film, billed as “the crookedest film festival in the U.S.,” which attracts visitors from near and far for short films, screenplay competitions and table readings.

From left: “Earth FM” by Philip Rabalais of Fairfield; “A Seussian Trip” by Katie Jensen, Bruce James Bales and Cynthia O’Hern of Des Moines; and “Green Witch” by Antoinette Lavelle of Des Moines.

This season’s first episode also includes “Frozen Out” by Tyler Hill and Hao Zhou of Iowa City. It’s a 5-minute experimental film that combines scenes from rural Iowa and rural China to explore the anxieties of dislocation and the desire to move from a complicated past.

The film won a Student Academy Award and a $5,000 grant during the 48th annual ceremony that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted in October. It’s now in the running to win an Oscar in March for the year’s Best Live Action Short Film.

From left: A spotlight feature about the annual Snake Alley Festival of Film in Burlington, “Debut” by Connor Hopkins of Decorah, and “The Atmosphere” by Amenda Tate of West Des Moines.

The new season of “The Film Lounge” will make its television prime-time premiere on Iowa PBS at 9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, followed by the second episode at 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7. Each episode will also stream at the same times on Facebook, where viewers can interact with contributing filmmakers and other film fans using the hashtag #TheFilmLounge.

The television series is produced by Iowa PBS in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, both divisions of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The films are 2–20 minutes in length and all filmmakers must live and work in Iowa to be selected for the broadcast.

Film buffs who want to get a sneak peek at the episodes before they air on Iowa PBS can see them during “The Film Lounge Watch Party” at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at FilmScene at The Chauncey, 404 E. College St., in Iowa City.

The event will include screenings of both one-hour episodes from the new season. A reception with the filmmakers will follow. More information can be found at

Jeff Morgan, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs



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