Longbaugh 2005 is less than a month away (March 24-27 to be exact), and things here are out of control. We've received films from all over the world that have kept me and the rest of the screening committee more than a little busy (on a recent Sunday I spent 15 hours watching submissions).

All-day marathon screening sessions are not nearly as fun as they might seem, but it's necessary to put together the best possible festival. And this year Longbaugh is going to be even better than before.

For the past two years, Longbaugh has taken place over the course of three days at the Hollywood Theatre. We're back at the Hollywood for three days in '05, but we're also growing. We've added an extra night and expanded to include special programs at Cinema 21, McMenamins Kennedy School and the Clinton Street Theater.

One of the most exciting new elements of this year's festival will be Li'l Longbaugh, a showcase of films for children, teens and the entire family. During the past two years I noticed that all the independent films screened at Longbaugh were meant primarily for adult audiences. It got me to thinking about how the best way to keep independent film alive is to make sure there is always an audience for movies created outside the mainstream studio system. The best way to have an audience like that is to begin educating new viewers by exposing them to high-quality independent films. That, of course, got me to wondering if there were such films out there. Well, there are, and Li'l Longbaugh has got 'em.

Li'l Longbaugh will be divided into several age-specific programs and will feature a variety of films from all over the world. We've got stuff from Cameroon (Mboutoukou), Armenia (Intervention) and Finland (The Bird's Holiday). And, perhaps most exciting, we've got films made by filmmakers as young as 5 years old, as well as a selection of works by local teenagers.

Longbaugh 2005 will also have an impressive showcase of edgy independent films and documentaries. Among the highlights will be Sandra Dickson and Churchill Roberts' documentary Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power. A critically acclaimed hit on the festival circuit, Negroes with Guns profiles outspoken, controversial and largely forgotten Williams, a civil rights activist considered by many to be the father of the modern Black Power movement.

On a less serious note, Longbaugh is pleased to present Sledge: The Untold Story. Reminiscent of such classic mockumentaries as This Is Spinal Tap, Sledge recounts the life and career of Frank Sledge, a top Hollywood action star fallen on hard times. A hilarious satire on the action genre, Sledge provides laugh-out-loud spoofs of everything from the films of Steven Seagal to The Matrix to Flashdance.