La Crescenta resident takes home best short film prize at local festival

Last month, a La Crescenta resident earned the Best Short Film Award at the Pasadena International Film Festival for his 30-minute movie “Tale of the Kite” on top of an already notable number of accolades.

Director, writer and producer Michael Fallavollita is an editor by trade from Boston, Mass., and has spent the past 14 years living in La Crescenta. He spent about 13 years on “Tale of the Kite” — mostly so he could depict the same actor, Kevin DeSimone, as both a child and adult.

The patience — and final work released last year — earned Fallavollita the highest honor among nine other entrees at the Pasadena festival.

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DeSimone was 21 when he played the young test pilot who faces a slim chance of survival after getting lost in the desert and losing contact with his airbase.The film also shows DeSimone at age 11, this time in childhood memories with his grandfather, which are the keys to his ultimate journey.

Fallavollita said the movie delivers a positive message and shows both the growth of DeSimone and the filmmaking process.

“I found in the last few years movies are just … more cynical. They aren’t telling happy stories,” he said.

The movie’s origins date back to Fallavollita’s short film “String of the Kite.” Shot on Super 16mm film in 2002, it tells the story of a boy, his grandfather and a kite.

Although that stand-alone film won more than 20 awards at various film festivals, Fallavollita said he’d always planned to expand on its ideas but waited until DeSimone got older because he couldn’t find an actor with the right look to play an adult version of him.

Fallavollita returned to incorporate a new segment to the film 11 years later, when DeSimone could portray the young man in 2013 as originally intended.

“[DeSimone] said to me one day, he goes ‘did you ever finish the movie we did?’” Fallavollita said. “I called John Shuck, who plays the grandfather, and ran it by him.”

Shuck loved the updated script, and, after four days of filming in the desert, Fallavollita’s vision was finally complete.

Fallavollita is currently working on another short called “Due North” about “finding your way home,” he said.

The Pasadena International Film Festival is a nine-day event founded in 2012 by executive director Jessica Hardin as a way to connect the public with filmmakers, artists and businesses through panels and screenings.

“[For Fallavollita] to work on a film for that many years — that level of dedication is so unique and so amazing,” Hardin said. “Also, we appreciate films that are family friendly.”

“Tale of the Kite” is next scheduled to be screened as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 21 in Costa Mesa.

jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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