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Mon, July 22

Prescott Film Festival: Lincoln mockumentary short unspools

Courtesy photos<br>
Bruce Dellis, above, patched together his short film "A. Lincoln: A Life Embellished" in the confines of his office cubicle in the Valley on a budget he estimates was $6.

Courtesy photos<br> Bruce Dellis, above, patched together his short film "A. Lincoln: A Life Embellished" in the confines of his office cubicle in the Valley on a budget he estimates was $6.

From his cubicle at work - after hours, of course - Bruce Dellis patched together his short film, "A. Lincoln: A Life Embellished," and it won him top honors in the Phoenix Film Festival.

Dellis describes the film as a story about Abraham Lincoln, but "details of his life have been tweaked for the sake of comedy. It's a bit like one of those Ken Burns documentaries on PBS, except it's filled with half-truths and hokum - like his upbringing in the Australian Outback, winning his wife in a pancake-eating contest and his mastery of numchucks.

"But I don't think it's disrespectful," Dellis said. "Actually, I love the guy - and I figured his reputation could survive the hit."

"A. Lincoln: A Life Embellished" will show at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Yavapai College Performance Hall as part of the Prescott Film Festival Series. Admission is $6.50. Except for this showing, the festival's series usually plays at Frontier Village Cinema 10 and will return there later in the fall.

So how did Dellis, a Tempe resident, produce his prize-winning film in the confines of his office cubicle at a major Valley utility company? Even though he had taken some filmmaking classes in college, that was back in the days of celluloid, he said. If he were going to film his "embellished" Lincoln story, he would have to master what his computer could do.

With persistence, he figured out how to pan across photographs digitally and cut the images together. He decided to do a pseudo-documentary so that he wouldn't have to hire actors or find a location.

"I'd only need to gather some historical photographs that I could doctor up using Photoshop," he said, and he chose Lincoln - not only because of his love of American history and its presidents, but also because "so many people already know the broad strokes of his life."

Dellis wrote the narration and recorded the film in his cubicle at work, then edited it on a program that came with his computer. He figures the project cost him a whopping $6, and that's because he had to pay some overdue library fines for the books he reproduced pictures from for the film.

When Dellis finished making his film about Lincoln, he thought it turned out "pretty nifty," so he entered it in the Phoenix Film Festival and won Best Arizona Short Film. He previously won 2006 Arizona Filmmaker of the Year, along with several Rocky Mountain Emmy nominations.

He hasn't stopped with these successes, either. Among other projects, he is composing a feature-length musical about the life of "mediocre" President Franklin Pierce, and he will tell the story using rock music.

Dellis and his films are the epitome of the genre that Helen Stephenson, director of the Prescott Film Festival Series, wants the Prescott area audience to see - independents or "indies."

"There are all these beautiful documentaries out there, beautiful films," she said. "They are heartwarming and they come from the heart. They don't have the corporations behind them making all the decisions. It's more of an individual expression of what (the filmmakers) want to get across."

Stephenson broached Scott Cassell, owner of Frontier Village Cinema 10, with her idea, and with his enthusiasm and the help of volunteers, the Prescott Film Festival kicked off in January of this year. Cassell has let the film festival use the cinema's biggest theater each Wednesday evening for free, Stephenson said, and the Yavapai Prescott Tribe has donated money for equipment. Support is growing in the community, too, she said, because audience numbers are increasing steadily.

This is only the beginning of the Prescott Film Festival Series' potential, Stephenson said. She is planning a three-day film festival for August 2010, and she eventually wants Prescott "to be the place for filmmakers," with exhibitions focusing on the various aspects of independent filmmaking.

A second treat awaits moviegoers Wednesday night at the Performance Hall. The film festival's feature film is "Gotta Dance," a "light-hearted" documentary that follows the Senior Hip-Hop Dance Team for the New Jersey Nets. The stars of this production range in age from 59 to 83.

Dr. Joy Brown of WOR Radio said, "Finally, a documentary that will make you glad you're not young anymore ... laugh, shake your bootie and get ready to boogie."

For more information about the film festival series, visit


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