The trouble with a Star Wars fan film competition is obvious from watching the winners of this year’s contest (starwars.atomfilms.com). While the technical achievements in these amateur efforts are astounding, the entries were hemmed in by a few rules and restrictions laid down by Lucasfilm. Among them: Fan fiction, stories that expand on the Star Wars universe or story lines, was verboten. Parodies were permitted, but a drama on, say, Han Solo’s prepilot career was off-limits.
Still, a few films – especially the runners-up – are worth watching. The winning comedy, Stargeeks (above), pits Trekkies against two Obi-wannabes on a hilarious quest for opening-night romance. Star Wars: Toys That Never Were is an ode to such imaginary gizmos as Trash Tub (”Everything you need to turn your bathtub into the trash compactor from Star Wars”). And Silent but Deadly, a send-up of the ongoing tussles between Lucas’ legal stormtroopers and the embattled webmasters of SW-themed sites, deserves honorable mention for its death ray of insider jokes. A rather dubious distinction when you consider that holding a competition for the best Star Wars fan film is something of a giant feedback loop in the first place.