Jameson’s Irish Whiskey presents…Kevin Spacey?

For one successful Kevin, there’s always another. While Costner found time for “Hatfields & McCoys,” Kevin Spacey has spent his off-time filming a series of short films for Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. The popular liquor brand recently hosted the “Jameson First Shot” film competition, asking for 7-page scripts written by filmmakers in America, Russia, and South Africa, with the winners getting the chance to cast two-time Academy Award-winner Spacey in the starring roles. Spacey’s production company, Trigger Street Productions, co-sponsored the competition. And the winners, “The Ventriloquist,” “Envelope,” and “Spirit of a Denture” (chosen from over 700 other submissions), all deserved their 10-15 minutes of fame.

In the short dramedy from American writer/director Benjamin Leavitt, “The Ventriloquist,” the title character (played by Spacey) finds himself desperately alone after an argument encourages his lively dummy to leave their apartment. Spacey is excellent sparring with his pal, but the dummy seems a bit wooden in his role…

Russian writer/director Aleksey Nuzhniy’s “Envelope” tells a fantastic true tale, set in the Soviet Union, where an innocent hobby and a complicated coincidence lead to accusations of espionage by Soviet generals. The ending will leave you with tears in your eyes, and Spacey showcases an amusing Russian accent.

“Spirit of a Denture,” a comical tall tale by Alan Shelley of South Africa, pins a nautical-loving dentist (Spacey) with the patients of his dreams, pirates willing to pay gold for dental work. But the situation doesn’t quite go as the dentist imagined. A fun-filled 9 minutes that ends predictably…but its a comedy, who cares?

The shorts are great examples of exactly what you look for in a short film: fun, singular stories told in as much time as it takes to make a batch of macaroni and cheese; passionate acting (despite the relative irrelevance of the short film in today’s cinematic culture); and free public access to share the works of up-and-comers with the world. And it’s as much about them as it is Spacey – he’s just to bait viewers in. And being one of my favorite actors, he did just that. Instead of starring in a lousy summer blockbuster, Kevin Spacey gave his free time to amateur filmmakers, helping them share their creations with the world. And for that, I’m thankful.

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