News Column

Short and Swede Fest:

July 26, 2013


Noah and Jonah Kalter made a terrible movie.

It didn't look like an 11- and 10-year old had made it. It lookedworse. It looked like an 11- and 10-year old made it on an iPad intheir downtime from playing Legos and video games.

They hand-made the credits with poster board and markers. Theyreplaced actors with Lego minifigures and stuffed animals. Theydubbed the voice-overs themselves. And they used the "Matlock"theme to score it.

It wasn't just amateurish. It wasn't just bad. It was notably bad.Epically bad. It may have been the worst remake of "The Hulk" inthe history of amateur films.

People loved it.

Because, of course, making a laughably bad remake of a popularmovie is exactly the point of Swede Fest 2 Palm Beach. This filmfestival, which started last year with the Kalter brothers as theinaugural winners, returns to the Borland Center for PerformingArts in Palm Beach Gardens Saturday at 7 p.m., to honor the worstin filmmaking.

The idea for "swedes" started with the 2008 comedy "Be KindRewind," in which Jack Black and Mos Def play two bumbling videostore clerks who inadvertently erase every movie in their store. Sothey set out to reshoot every movie with no budget.

They called their movies "Swedes" to make them sound European andavant-garde to customers -- and thus, a cult phenomenon was born.

"You weren't really supposed to put effort into it," said Jonah,now 11. "It's supposed to be funny."

Swedes are usually 3 to 5 minutes long, focusing on one famousscene. Most filmmakers select an obscure movie or movies that wereeye-rollingly bad when they came out in theaters or ignominiouslywent straight to video. Others are traditionalist, preferring to"swede" big-budget films or cult classics.

More than 30 filmmakers have entered their "swedes" in this year'sfestival, and they range from such offal as "Tron" and "They Live,"starring Rowdy Roddy Piper, to classics such as "Raging Bull" and"Roman Holiday."

But don't expect them to be good. Expect them to be hilariouslybad.

Noah and Jonah came up with the idea for their swede while groceryshopping with their mother, Jill, and before they went to bed thatnight, they had shot their entire film with an iPad and the iMovieapp.

"We had no idea we were going to win," Noah, 12, said. "We justwanted to try it out."

Some filmmakers, though, don't swede around.

After watching the 38 entries last year -- of which, only the worstof the best are played on the silver screen on stage -- WallyLurtz, 37, of Lake Worth, decided to enter with a remake of"GoodFellas."

With the help of seven friends in his improv group, Lurtz remadeJoe Pesci's "I'm funny, how?" scene. They shot inside Lake Worth'sLittle Munich restaurant for two hours and Lurtz edited the filmover the course of several days, a bit at a time, between work as aCBS-12 cameraman.

"It's a break from shooting crime scenes and traffic accidents,"Lurtz said. "Even though you're recreating something, you're makingsomething original in its own way. It's fun to get a hold ofsomething we all know and make it new again."

Full-time filmmaker Jason Galotti, 33, says it takes a lot of workto make a movie look amateurish. It took two nights of filming andsix hours total of editing to make his "Terminator" swede lastyear. This year, he stepped up his game with props made of trashcans, pingpong balls, PVC pipe and sparklers in swedeing "TheyLive," which he shot as a 3-minute trailer and produced a longer15-minute film.

"We just had a great time with it," said Galotti, whose swede hasbeen already been shown in Tampa and San Diego swedefests. "Wewanted to keep the corny factor."

It's a fine balance not to overproduce a swede. Audiences love theawfulness. The Kalter brothers said they wanted to make their entrythis year, "Starship Troopers," "a big joke," and spent two weekson it.

"Last time, we didn't know what to do. This time, we set out toimprove it," Noah said.

Then again, that might be exactly the wrong strategy for making theworst movie around. Twitter: @Carlos_Frias


What is a swede? A "swede" is a no-budget, laughably bad remake ofa Hollywood film.

Time/site: 7 p.m. Saturday, Borland Center for Performing Arts,Palm Beach Gardens.

Cost: Tickets are $5 online through today and $6 cash at the door.VIP tickets with a limited edition lanyard are $8.

Information: or 561-282-4623

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