Joe and Anthony Russo HollyShorts Film
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Brothers and directors of Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Solider” Joe and Anthony Russo got their start at a film festival in the late 1990s and continue to champion festivals. They were honored with the Visionary Award during Thursday’s HollyShorts Film Festival opening night at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

“We’re trying to be a nexus point to hold the door open for new voices in the business into an otherwise hermetic industry,” Joe Russo told Variety.

“It’s the reason that you make films like ‘Captain America’ so you can help gain exposure for festivals like this that really champion new voices in the business,” said Anthony Russo. The brothers are also attached to direct “Captain America 3,” skedded for release on May 6, 2016.

They said that the new digital platforms for filmmakers have continued to open doors.

“It’s an invaluable medium because YouTube and Vine is sort of cementing it in the brains of a new generation,” Joe Russo said. “Shorter storytelling is going to become more significant in the future.”

Luke Wilson, who presented his award-winning short film “Satellite Beach,” said he tackled his film in a short story form because it was the “only way to do it.”

“We did it fast. I got the idea one Sunday and we were moving on it a few weeks later,” Wilson said. “You won’t believe the access we had though. Sometimes it looks like a Michael Bay movie but it was literally just six guys.”

HollyShorts co-founder Theo Dumont said in the past decade he’s seen submissions change as digital replaced VHS copies and believes that has contributed to the festival’s growth. “It’s really grown in a community way,” he said. “It’s a familial environment so the filmmakers appreciate the personal touch that we give them so year in and year out it has grown through the roof.”

The film festival has also managed to attract talent from around the world. Dumont said that festival organizers are looking to expand the festival’s base and locations, such as to New York and in the U.K. “We’re going to continue the strategic growth so it’s not too big,” Dumont said to Variety while standing poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel party. “It still has to be manageable and we still want to give each person enough time and feel and personal touch but we want to expand in other territories.”

With 423 films set to screen at the festival, there was a great diversity of films and storylines present. Films ranged from the final journey of the Endeavour space shuttle through Los Angeles streets to social issues regarding laws surrounding alcoholism and child protection.

Throughout the night, both directors and actors emphasized the importance of short films being present in the industry. “People put down shorts,” said animator and short filmmaker Bill Plympton, who also received the night’s HollyShorts Indie Animation Icon Award. “I think that’s an insult. Because shorts are wonderful art forms and there’s really great stuff in short films.”

After the screenings, filmmakers and film festival guests walked down the street to the Roosevelt Hotel for the afterparty for drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

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