Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre to screen short films, 'Pompano Boy'

·4 min read
Becky Stapf acts in a scene in the short film "Dearly Departed.”
Becky Stapf acts in a scene in the short film "Dearly Departed.”

Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre and Pigasus Institute will present BAFT's first short-film festival 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The public can watch a variety of shorts made with two separate audiences in mind: children (Part 1) and adults (Part 2), free of charge. Here are synopses of a few:

Kate Williamson, left, and Jocylon Evans perform in "No Duh," a 1980s teen short film.
Kate Williamson, left, and Jocylon Evans perform in "No Duh," a 1980s teen short film.
  • "No Duh," in the kids' section, runs just under a dozen minutes and shows a study group of teens in the 1980s. The school's most popular girl, as well as something else, interrupt the action, jeopardizing a friendship.

  • "Dearly Departed," an 18-minute film for adults, depicts a wake for a man killed in a hunting accident. While his family attempts to cope, one member seizes the past and holds on.

  • "Before the Bonsai Speaks" was still being edited at the time of this writing. It's the story of a woman from Asia now residing in the U.S. and craving acceptance. An experienced horticulturalist, she joins the slightly haughty, and exclusive, garden club. Will she have to abandon her culture to fit in?

Jiayi Grace Geng acts in the short film "Before the Bonsai Speaks.”
Jiayi Grace Geng acts in the short film "Before the Bonsai Speaks.”

If you go

WHAT: Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre's first short film festival.

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Dec. 12.

WHERE: Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave., 812-323-3020.

TICKETS: Free.

DETAILS: thebaft.org/projects-3.

A scene from "Pompano Boy," a film about foster children and foster families.
A scene from "Pompano Boy," a film about foster children and foster families.

Full-length film at BAFT Dec. 9

People tend to think that once an at-risk child gets a foster family, joy ensues.

"It doesn't," said 27-year-old Midwestern filmmaker and director Andrew Paul Davis, who wrote his film about foster care while living in Bloomington. Davis' grandfather grew up in foster care. Davis' second full-length narrative film, "Pompano Boy," will screen at the Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, and the director will be present for a question and answer session afterward.

"Pompano Boy" comes after Davis' debut, "Palace" (2018), which he filmed north of Indianapolis. In its 100 minutes, "Pompano Boy" tells of a troubled white minister (Davis wanted to show that foster families do not have to be perfect) with his new Black foster child, but also the child’s mother, who struggles to regain custody of her son. Her past interferes.

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Davis sets the story in his hometown of Pompano Beach, Florida. A church has just fired the minister, Art (Todd Bruno), for his views on suffering and salvation. So Art establishes his own church to spread his open-minded beliefs, while his wife, Izzy (Arlette Del Toro), scrounges for photography work. Money is scarce; regardless, they take in Elijah (Blake McLennan), who is terrified by the change.

Davis gives the foster parents plenty of flaws. Izzy and Art aren't awful or incapable of learning to care for Elijah, but Davis knows about children who grapple with past trauma and are also adapting to life without their biological parents.

"Being plopped into a new world and a different culture is hard," Davis said. "My sister worked for a nonprofit that placed foster kids, and I would go to work with her." His father, too, worked with disadvantaged children.

The movie's foster parents use their faith as a guide but discover they haven't adequately prepared to raise this child. Rita Cole plays Candace, Elijah’s biological mother, who fights for custody while facing the return of her turbulent ex-boyfriend (Timothy Mark Davis).

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"It's usually best for the biological parents to raise the child," Davis contended. "And it would succeed much more often if they had a lot more support."

People who mean well are sometime dangerous, he said, and the foster system has problems.

Davis wrote "Pompano Boy" in Bloomington in 2019 and edited it in Indianapolis during the pandemic. Its first festival appearance was at Indiana’s 2021 Heartland International Film Festival.

If you go

WHAT: "Pompano Boy," a new film about a foster family, written and directed by Andrew Paul Davis.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9.

WHERE: Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre, 411 E. Seventh St.

TICKETS: thebaft.org. Pay what you will. Recommended for viewers 18 and older.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Movies: Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre film festival December

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