The Gen Con Film Festival

 

The Gen Con Film Festival is a refuge for claustrophobic people. Finding it is a slow, steady journey toward relief. How do you get there? Here, don’t worry, I’ll show you.

All right, let’s say you’re stuck in the middle of the madness at the Indiana Convention Center, flooded with vibrant colors and quirky characters. Close your eyes, take a deep breath — then open your eyes because you’ll need to be sure not to trip on a dragon tail — and proceed to squeeze through the crowd. After you emerge from the clutter of the main merchandise room, find an escalator. Then look for the skywalk to the Westin Hotel — the long, spacious skywalk providing sweet relief from claustrophobia.

When I arrived at the Grand Ballroom III on Friday, I was happy to see the film festival in full swing with one of the strongest films from the recent Indy Film Fest — a slow-burn zombie thriller called Chrysalis.

The viewers were dead-silent and glued to their seats — a stark contrast to the storm of movement in the Convention Center. The film is refreshingly quiet as well. Following a young couple through an apocalyptic wasteland, it’s a surprisingly intimate, low-key zombie film. Chrysalis was partially shot in Gary, Indiana — a largely grungy area that’s perfect if you’re scouting locations for some kind of post-apocalyptic film.

Another film that makes good use of Indy locations is Submerge: Ni’re Reborn, which played Friday night. The sci-fi adventure revolves around a young woman who is transported to retro-futuristic ruins, where she becomes a warrior named Ni’re — an anagram of her name on Earth, Erin.

With Submerge, Director Demetrius Witherspoon miraculously manages to transport Hoosier viewers to another world without taking them out of Indy. With its Romanesque pillars and pavilion, Coxhall Gardens in Carmel makes a fitting lair for Ni’re’s nemesis, Queen Rain. And the installation of “ancient ruins” at Holliday Park provides an arresting backdrop for Ni’re’s gritty, primitive battles.

Today is the last day of the festival, but there are plenty of films to see between now and 10 p.m. The titles alone should be enough to entice you — Gamer Chick, To the Batmobile!, Princess Rap Battles.

Gamer Chick, which plays at 2 p.m., follows a twentysomething girl as she juggles her heroic gaming persona with her real-life awkwardness. To the Batmobile! (3 p.m.) revolves around a group of guys with the best job on Earth — building replicas of the 1966 Batmobile. And Princess Rap Battles (7 p.m.) is exactly what it sounds like — a fly-on-the-wall look at Disney princess cosplayers as they face off in rap throwdowns.

From what I’ve seen, these films are pure, pulpy fun. They’re unadulterated and unapologetic — like Gen Con itself. And the film festival is a nice escape if you’re overwhelmed by the Convention Center’s circus of activity.

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