As curator of Arkansas Shorts – A Night of Short Film, Jen Gerber ensures the evening is fun, flawless and full of festivities for filmmakers and film enthusiasts.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Sara Reeves | Hair by Courtney Pierce with Red Beauty Lounge | Makeup by Jessica Hester with Red Beauty Lounge
If there’s an evening of art – especially one related to film – happening in Hot Springs, there’s a good chance Jen Gerber is involved with it. Whether she’s managing the logistics of the world-renowned Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival or sharing her knowledge with aspiring filmmakers at Low Key Arts, Jen offers a warm smile and genuine enthusiasm.
The freelance filmmaker is curator of Low Key Arts’ Arkansas Shorts – A Night of Short Film, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. As curator, Jen is responsible for coordinating the film submission and screening process for the committee. Her goal is “to ensure the final program represents the unique voices found in the Arkansas filmmaking community,” she says.
Jen grew up in Hot Springs and moved away to pursue her film dreams in both Chicago and New York City. After graduate school at Columbia University, she says she had an unrelenting urge to return home. She moved back to the Spa City about three years ago to tell stories about her “favorite place in the world” with her “favorite people in the world.”
Since returning home, Jen has made three short films or “shorts” and one feature length film. “And I plan to make many more,” she notes. She’s also an instructor with the Low Key Arts Inception to Projection filmmaking class. “It’s an intensive class for both high school students and adults, where each participant creates their own film,” she says, noting that these films have a world premiere at the Arkansas Shorts screening.
Low Key Arts exists to provide “opportunities for all ages to experience performances and workshops by musical, cinematic and artistic innovators from around the world,” according to its website. A bonus is that Low Key Arts events are done with “taste, precision and tons of fun,” Jen says.
“Arkansas Shorts is the premiere showcase of short films created by natives or current residents of Arkansas,” Jen explains. The films are 10 minutes or less and span all genres – including narrative, documentary, music video and experimental. “Arkansas Shorts gives filmmakers the best gift in the world: a captive and expressive audience to celebrate these homegrown stories,” Jen says.
Jen oversees the entire process to make sure the night of Arkansas Shorts is “fun, technically flawless and properly celebrates all the work on screen,” she says.
In continued collaboration with the local filmmaking community, Jen says a “Made in Arkansas” panel has been added to discuss the role of filmmaking in Arkansas. Last year, an international film block was added and was a “huge hit,” Jen notes. A North American film block has also been added for this year’s event. “It’s amazing to see how our Arkansas filmmakers’ work holds up next to some of the best short films in the world. The North American film block will highlight high-quality, award-winning shorts that are sure to inspire, challenge and, of course, entertain.”