On the Highland Theatre's Marquee, an unusual announcement could be seen on Wednesday evening.
Between the lettering for major theatrical releases Rise of the Guardians and Wreck it Ralph, the words "NELAart Short Film Series" could be read.
A short line formed outside the Highland Theatre at around 7 p.m., as volunteers Cathi Milligan and volunteer Janet Dodson sold tickets to the second installment of the film series dedicated to short, independently made movies.
Slowly but surely, audience members filed into the the theater, eventually filling it to near capacity.
On most evenings, the Highland Theatre is hosts audiences looking to escape into Hollywood's glossiest products. On Wednesday evening, though, they were treated to something different.
"Wow, what a great crowd," Alessandro Gentile, director of NELAart's Short Film Series, said as he addressed the audience that was several times larger than the one that attended the first film series.
After Gentile thanked the many local sponsors, volunteers and artists who made the film series possible, the lights in the screening room dimmed as the opening credits of Dave Rock's The Burying Beetle began to roll.
The film tells the story of a young boy who turns to religion as his father, a scientist and an atheist, is stricken with a terminal disease. The story unfolds as father and son, along with a local minister, debate the value of faith. However, the Burying Beetle is less a film about religion than it is about the sacrifices parents make for their children.
"It was about having a kid, and how to talk them about death," said Director Dave Rock.
The Burying Beetle received the The York Award by NELAart for best in show.
The shortest film in the series, Tumbleweed!, followed. The visually striking short told the story of a tumbleweed that refused to tumble. Despite a cast comprising only tumbleweeds and a narrator, it delivered an inspiring and humorous message about encountering life at one's own pace.
Tyrrell Shaffner's Threnody was perhaps the darkest film of the night. Born from the idea that Los Angeles was the perfect setting for a vampire film, Threnody imagines a world where young people trying to make it in Hollywood are even more even vulnerable than we imagine.
Tanner Kling's Guitar Face lightened the mood, telling the story of an obnoxious but lovable bartender turned bard who finds Hope--literally--by strumming his blues away in a burlesque house. With its easy charm and high spirits, Guitar Face earned the audience award for best short film.
Career Day closed the series. The short about a mother-son relationship asked the audience to consider the lengths they would go to for their children.
Following the showing, audiences and filmmakers mingled at the Hermosillo Bar on York Boulevard to celebrate the success of the night.
" At the after-party at the Hermosillo, there were intense conversations about the current state of filmmaking, and the need for this kind of oppotunity to show work you do not get to see anywhere else," Dodson said. "NELAart is committed to supporting art in the Northeast of Los Angeles. This Series is also supported by many local businesses, artists, and film lovers."
Milligan, NElAart Director, said the showing was all part of a busy week for NELAart.
"It's a great week for NELAart in general having had Comedy Night on Wednesday, Film Series last night and Second Saturday tomorrow," she said. "Time for a rest ... sort of."