Film Fest

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 10, 2021

You never know what to expect from the film fest.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

True Grit Shift (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal, this fella’s here ta make a film.”
“Yes, I want to capture the true-grit work of ranching.”
“Thet so?”
“Says he wants ta see real cattle. Ya know, fer the moo-vie.”
“Well, there’s some longhorns from an earlier prompt. An’ unicorns a course. See Mister we don’t zactly wrangle cattle here.”
“What kind of a ranch is this?”
“This here’s a virtual ranch. We wrangle words. But if’n ya got a flash cam’ra, mebbe ya kin catch thet on film.”
“Don’t you have roundups?”
“Sure. Ever week. Shorty roun’s up ever’one’s stories.”
“This is unreal!”
“Thet’s ‘bout right.”


At Eleven by D. Avery

“Phew. LeGume here?”
“Was, Pal, but now he’s gone with his wind. Went ta check on Ernie, who’s been in a bit of a space odyssey from his gardenin’ an’ bakin’. Where’s that film fella at?”
“He was wundrin’ an’ wand’rin’, lookin’ fer inspiration when Frankie stumbled inta him. I said somethin’ ‘bout her havin’ a good eye, an’ he asked her ta take him ‘roun the ranch ta see the sights.”
“What a sight. Hope she ain’t leadin’ him in circles.”
“She’s got Burt.”
“What hoss’s the film fella on?”
“It’ll be a must-see film.”


Two Aliens Walk into a Theater by Joanne Fisher

“This is what humans call cinema. This should inform us about their society.” Blarg said.

“Yes it’s a good way to find out more about them.” Krenut agreed as they sat down. After the film began the two of them watched in mounting alarm.

“These humans are dangerous! One of them walked into living quarters with a large chopping implement and began to dismember others with it!” Blarg said.

“Yes they seem rather bloodthirsty, but we must watch more before we report back.” Krenut replied. He put aside the booklet with the title: The Fifth International Horror Film Festival.


Grandy’s Last Stand by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The storage closet was packed with slides, cellulose family movies, and photo albums (these last, at least, were sorted and labeled).

If Daniel and sister Alora wanted to see any of their grandfather’s estate, these mementos were to be magicked into a film in six months. Per Grandy’s will, the theater’d been rented, to coincide with the Regional film festival, all expenses to be paid from the estate for family attending the full week.

Both had student loans to pay. Rolling up their sleeves, they got cracking with the arrangements. They would’ve done it anyway, had they been asked.


Take Me Back by Michael Fishman

Tin film canisters. Messy handwriting on faded masking tape offers no clue to origins or contents.

Spliced haphazardly when transferred to video, we’re modern-day time travelers. First watching baby’s first steps. Then a mother’s sweet 16. There’s Ben and Bunny’s 40th anniversary. Back to a baby’s first bath in a kitchen sink.

Someone’s swimming in a motel pool. Thanksgiving dinner. Who’s that playing cards? Children in birthday hats laughing at a clown. They’re getting married. He’s proud in cap and gown.


They’re not much, these old films, but I watch and savor their faded memories.


Matty’s Virtual Film Fest by Anne Goodwin

Their flu sweeps England like their dastardly Armada. Matty must emerge from retirement to help raise morale. Her recitals would banish fear and despondency, but cinemas and theatres are closed.

The new maid suggests a solution. In a screen that is also a camera, and no bigger than a book. They can film without film and project without a projector, beaming directly to each separate device. In her ninety-nine years, Matty has never heard the like.

The girl directs. Matty performs.

No-one edits. Will evil seep out somehow to infect the audience watching blithely from the confines of home?


The Dream by Nancy Brady

It seemed like the worst week in Alicia’s short life. Nothing went right, and she was depressed.

Returning home, Alicia skipped dinner, chugged her sleeping tablets with wine, conked out, and began to dream.

Alicia received an invitation to a private film festival; the limo arrived minutes later.

Swiftly, Alicia was transported to a darkened theater. The film showed scenes from her life, both good and bad. She was surprised that she had made an impact on other people, changing their lives.

Alicia awoke with a changed attitude. She might have bad days, but her life was worth living.


Theatre of Memories by Hugh W. Roberts

Why does a visit to the LGBT film festival bring sadness and tears to Richard?


“What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” whispered Adrian to his husband.

“I can’t help it,” sobbed Richard. “This LGBT film festival brings us lots to smile about, and when you see what we’re viewing on the screen right now, I can’t help but think about the times when, as a young boy, I cried myself to sleep because I thought I was all alone in this world.”

Looking around the theatre, Adrian witnessed evidence of tears and popcorn. Looking up at the screen, he squeezed Richard’s hand tight and watched the story unfold in front of the world.


Another’s Eyes by Rebecca Glaessner

I stride past the doorman. Find my seat.

The AI Film Fest, biggest event of the century, filled every stadium worldwide.

Murmuring, we navigate invisible NeuralNet login gateways.

Then we’re in. A hush falls.

AI generated scenes fill every human’s mind. Eyes closed, vision infinite. A collective gasp. The scope is immense, incomprehensible, story after story driven by no discernable characters.

So much beauty.

Standing ovations and bleary-eyed grins are shared the world over.

Outside, the world’s a different hue. Lighter. Hopeful.

The doorman thanks each of us with more sincerity than I’ve ever known.

His badge reads filmmaker.


The Oodnagalahbi Fillum Festival by Doug Jaquier

Gazza had always pronounced ‘film’ as fillum, so it came as no surprise when he organised the Oodnagalahbi Fillum Festival and its associated event, the Fillem Food Fantasia. The Fillum Festival featured the world premieres of two blockbusters, ‘Mad Max and his beaut ute’ and ‘Killer Roos’. People and animals came from miles around, including more red kelpies than you could yell ‘get up’ to. After the fillums finished, it was time to hoe into the Food Fantasia, including sweet and sour popcorn, peanut butter choc top ice-creams, and salted yabbie and vinegar chips. Pity the beer ran out.


1936 Hull Crossing Film Festival by Denise DeVries

The moment Sarabell Simms heard that Pete Brown Jr. came back home with movie camera, she started planning a film festival. Never mind that the young man avoided her calls and never met her eyes at choir practice. Persistence would pay off.
Finally, she wrote a play starring his younger sister Nettie. “Imagine a film version!” she said.
“It’s not a sound camera,” he replied.
“I have a recording machine. And your parents would be so proud.”
“Poor, naive Little Pete,” everyone said, “he’s been away too long.”


TheValley of Spirit by Chel Owens

They’d warned her about Old Adavndo Valley. Locals, etched in lines of wisdom’s dust, shook their heads slowly. Raised a hand. Or a crooked finger.

“Don’t,” they said, “Disturb the dead.”

She brushed them off. Turned away.

“An’ don’,” they added, “Film nothin’ ’bout yourself…”

But she was Alda Evenfeld, two-times winner of the Fergus Film Festival. No age-worn, brain-worn superstitions stood against book-worn, theatre-worn critics.

Still, fans later reflected, what a tragic coincidence. Late opening night; neighbors, drawn in moonlight, found the shell of Ms. Evenfeld. Exactly as her film’s protagonist lay. With the same scare-worn, dusty face.


Film Flam? By JulesPaige

The small town boasted that unique films would be shown. Not quite a film festival. But classic noir, independent and other short films would be on the screen in the barn that was turned into the viewing room. The flat floor and folding chairs were the least of the obstacles. It was a challenge to find a seat with a good view. And the acoustics weren’t great either. Dad always said you get what you pay for.

die hard fans
deal with obstacles
its their choice

The room was cold. Couldn’t hear, or see. This place wasn’t for me.


The Best Birthday Ever by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa inspected the birthday card sentiment, printed hotel confirmation, flowers, and film festival tickets. She was smiling but tears were ready to run down her cheeks.
Michael came up beside her, wrapped an arm around her waist, and kissed her cheek. “I thought you would enjoy going to the film festival.”
“I’m thrilled, because I didn’t think you would even consider it.”
“Now that I’m out of that wheelchair we can enjoy ideal seats which makes it worth going.”
“I think you’ve given us both very special gifts.”
“I’m happy it’s you I’ll be walking next to.”
“Thank you.”


The Lost Love Film Festival by Bill Engleson

Delbert Waverly never recovered from the loss of his first love.
He was six.
Lorraine Petski was seven.
They spent Grade One together…with thirty-two others.
And Miss Campbell, of course.
Then the Petski’s moved away.
Far away.
Further than a six-year-old could find.
Eventually, Delbert went to a therapist.
Out of that came the suggestion to create a Lost Love Film Festival.
“Delbert,” the therapist noted, you are one of many. Including me. What say we seek out those who have lost loves, ask them to film their heartbreak, and, voilà, have a film festival?”
“Your nuts,” said Delbert.


Reel Deal (Part I) by D. Avery

The guys from the shop noted that the El Camino was not in front of their new favorite pub. Neither was Marge Small’s pickup.
“Where’s Marge, Nard?”
“Movies? On beer night?”
“Nick, Nick, Nick, every night is beer night.”
“Yeah, but this is Friday friggin beer night. What’s got into Marge?”
“That big goomer she wrestled with here last Friday, that’s what.”
“Marge likes guys?”
“She likes this one.”
“But. We don’t know him.”
“He’s actually taller than Marge. And. That El Camino? His.”
“Oh. Okay then. Nard?”
“I pity the movie goers sitting behind those two.”


Reel Deal (Part II) by D. Avery

Ernest agreed with Marge that her truck would be more comfortable than his El Camino so she drove to the movie theatre. Ernest went to get Marge’s door for her but was too slow.
Though sore where his date’s truck door struck him, Ernest Biggs felt special buying tickets for two and escorting Marge Small into the theater. All eyes were on this stunning couple, each tall and of ample girth.
Marge agreed with Ernest that TV at his place would be more comfortable than the theatre. Marge got the door for Ernest who held their buckets of popcorn.


Film Fest by FloridaBorne

I stood outside the glass windows to whisper… “Why?”

Uncomfortable inside my best dress, I looked around at people with suits costing more than my wardrobe. Conversations around me were a façade hiding flesh, bone, humanity… anything to believe they were better.

I wondered at these beings avid in their discussion as to what the nuances meant. Disgusted, I began to stray.

“Where are you going?” My 3rd husband asked. “We haven’t discussed…”

“…the fact that we paid twenty apiece to watch this horribly boring story?”

Laughter turned my husband’s eyes into obsidian. I walked toward an honest tomorrow.


Changing Colors by Reena Saxena

The dress is sewed and put together with care over a period of six months. Her mother picks up unusual items for creative placement as embellishments. The last one is supposed to be a fresh flower picked on the morning of the gala event.

She looks at it wistfully, and wonders if it will qualify for the red carpet moment in her life – walking behind the actress holding the train of her gown.

“The carpet is going green this year to promote sustainable fashion.”

“And nothing can be greener than this dress..” Her mother’s smile is triumphant. 

Winners all…


Film Fest Debut by Charli Mills

Whiskers tickled Barnyard Betsy’s arm. She patted her lead horse, Magic, her hand shaking. Two country souls about to debut at a big city film festival. BB had never attended a “fest,” but this movie was different. An independent documentary. Instead of her horses acting, a filmmaker caught the relationship between movie wrangler and herd. The promoters wanted BB and Magic to meet movie-goers. Terrified she’d have to put on one of those sparkling sausage casings of a dress, she was relieved they liked her idea of looking authentically Nevadan. The crowd roared when Magic pooped on the carpet.


The SeaBright Newsletter, July 2019 by Saifun Hassam

“In July, Port SeaBright was overflowing with visitors from nearby cities and the Bright Archipelago. It was time for the annual Marine Habitat Festival, including yacht parades and races, scrumptious seafood, and the Fisheries and Habitats Film Festival.

This year, the topic was Future Marine Habitats. Director Julia Tremontaine warmly welcomed everyone. Futuristic films and models by amateurs and professionals drew a lot of attention, about how people could live on the sea, in catastrophic climate changes. The star of the festival was a Coast Guard cutter, transformed by talented imaginative college students into a greenhouse and aquaculture habitat.”


O My Goodness by Annette Rochelle Aben

Shannon started the Indie Artist Group for opportunities to get amazing, unique works of art into the hands of those who might never see them otherwise.
The entire group was excited, their art was going to be part of goodie bags handed out at The Sundance Film Festival that year! Some made jewelry, others painted pictures and some designed cards.
Shannon hosted their table in the celebrity lounge with a broad smile and hearty handshake. She was cool and calm greeting celebrities but nothing prepared her to meet the person who asked for an extra bag for Oprah Winfrey!


Film Fest by Robert Kirkendall

The writer was checking his emails then saw one from a film festival competition where he had submitted a screenplay. Probably just another rejection, he thought, bad news can wait.

He scrolled down the list of other emails, but the one from the film festival kept gnawing at him and he he couldn’t wait anymore. He went back to the film festival email, opened it, and was surprised to see that his screenplay, a comedy about a man trying to escape Santa Cruz, had moved onto the next round in the competition. Wow, he thought, good news for once.


Film Fest by Jane Aguiar

I was invited for the Film Festival and my film “Bejababdar” was selected. It was a superhit regional short film. I did not have the confidence to communicate in English so I sat in one corner.

Suddenly, the anchor mentioned the names of Best Films and Best Actresses. He called the film “Bejababdar” ” irresponsible” and my name “Garland of Diamonds” instead of “Ratnamala”.

He spoke in English so even though my film and I were selected, I remained silent and seated. When everyone looked at me and began clapping, I realized that my selection was due to my “irresponsibility”.


Wacky Films by Madeline Murphy

Mia was bursting with joy! Creating a film about her grandparents had culminated in a spot at the Film Festival. The category was Female Film Directors. Short on time, she had asked cousin Andy to submit the film.

They sat in the front row for the screening. Mia opened her program and searched for her film in the listing. Popcorn cascaded over Andy’s head. Mia’s film was under Weird and Wacky!

“Grrrr, run NOW!” Said Mia

“Your film is about their lives as comedians. Right?” Said Andy.

“Yes, they were hilarious,” said Mia. “And, you’re lucky I love you.”


The Little Tittweaking Film Festival by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking nestled in the bosom of the countryside, happily anonymous. When Colonel Daub Byzantine retired to the old vicarage, he and Maple Byzantine hoped to join a lively community. They were wrong.
‘What shall we do?’
‘A film festival. Everyone can make their own.’
The other residents weren’t sure, but mucking in was expected.
‘Just supply your films by the closing date. We’ll do the rest.’
It was therefore with some surprise that the Byzantines received the entry forms covered in a variety of dusts, condensations and mucuses .
‘Not everyone sees films like you do, Daub,’ lamented Maple.


Ten Days Clean by Donna Matthews

I’m picking my niece up at the airport for the weekend. She’s been having a hard time, my sister said. A hard time in high school – hanging out with the wrong crowd kind of hard. Shhh…I chide myself. Take responsibility and own this. She IS the wrong crowd, just like me. She jumps in the car, cigarette smoke still clinging to her sweatshirt.

“Auntie!” she exclaims.

“What’s it gonna be? Concert? That film festival at the Woodlands Pavillion? I’m getting so wasted!”

“I was thinking a meeting.”

” A what?”

” An AA meeting…I’m ten days clean today.”


Silent Flim Fest by Duane L Herrmann

I took a friend to a silent film festival. He’d never been to one. After the first film he checked his phone messages. There were none. Odd: no phone calls, no messages all day. It was a replacement phone. He’d been told data from the old would be transferred to the new. He found that had not happened. He missed a call from his parole officer. Because my friend had not showed up for a sudden meeting, he was reported as “abscounded” and a warrant went out for his arrest. His brief freedom was over – technology never fails.


Unwary by C. E. Ayr

These back streets are dangerous places for the unwary.
Her heels click rhythmically as she hurries home from the late-night film festival.
She is suddenly aware that she is being followed.
Her pursuer is closing rapidly.
She knows there have been a series of vicious attacks on women in the area.
She cannot run in this tight skirt.
She stops, backs against a wall.
He leers knowingly, reaches for her blouse.
He doesn’t even see her NAA Guardian pistol before the bullet passes through his left eye into his brain.
These back streets are dangerous places for the unwary.


Leaving’ A Trail (Part I) by D. Avery

“Ain’t seen ya at any a the film showin’s Kid. Have ya least checked out the trailers?”
“Trailers? Them film folks is campin’ out?”
“Not camper trailers. Movie trailers. Kinda like a visual blurb, get ya innerested in a film.”
“No time fer any a that Pal. Saloons don’t run themselves ya know. Well, ‘cept when Chel and Colleen take the reins.”
“Yep, some fine poetry servin’s then. How’s the Author’s Chair?”
“Got a couple a great writers lined up fer November an’ December. Hope folks come by second Mondays ta engage an’ ask the authors ‘bout their writin’.”


Leaving’ A Trail (Part II) by D. Avery

“Yep, the saloon stage is fer the entire Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Folks kin take a seat in the Author’s Chair, kin be innerviewed, or even have their characters come in fer a chat. Jist ‘bout anythin’ goes at the Saddle Up.”
“Zactly. If someone has a idea or a hankerin’ ta take the stage all they have ta do is run it by our writer D. Avery.”
First Mondays– Anyone Can Poem with Chel Owens
Second Mondays– Author’s Chair volunteer
Third Monday– Double Ennead Challenge with Colleen Chesebro
Fourth Monday– Interviews & Showcasing
Fifth Monday– Photo Flash Challenge


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  1. Doug Jacquier

    What a bunch of celluloid heroes you all are, with Oscars to Joanne, Michael, Anne, Rebecca, Chel, Bill and D. Now follow the bouncing ball everyone as we sing along to this Kinks classic.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for the soundtrack to this collection, Doug.

  2. TanGental

    A very impressive selection

    • Charli Mills

      Everyone in it is a star!

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Thank you Charli, for linking that last yarn with the Saloon schedule. I know I make extra work for you.
    I read these weekly collections and am always impressed with this group of writers, and happy to be among them. This is a great place to play!

    • Charli Mills

      Happy to have you managing the Saloon and all the enhancement to play at the Ranch you bring, D. Let’s play!

  4. pedometergeek

    Wow, what a great collection of stories this week. Per usual, a great variety. And the Oscar goes to…glad I am not a judge. They were awesome. ~nan

    • Charli Mills

      Collections are more powerful than contests in my estimation, Nan. In a collection, every story has a role and the arrangements are part of the creative spark everyone contributes to. I never tire of the variety!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Here’s more work for you Charli. Nan won a copy of FireKeepers Daughter when her name was drawn from among the participants at the Author’s Chair..

  5. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Rebecca.


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