By James Renner
Cleveland Free Times

RAIN WILL GIVE WAY TO SUNDANCE… Local director Laura Paglin spent several years and thousands of dollars completing her passion project NightOwls of Coventry, which premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2003. But it’s a short documentary with a budget of $25 that might make her career.

During the 2004 Ohio election, Paglin had a hunch she could find a little drama at a polling station at East 60th and Superior. She spent the day documenting the chaos inside the precinct with a hand-held digital camera. The result is a 26-minute flick called No Umbrella, which has just been accepted into the 2006 Sundance Film Festival — Mecca for aspiring filmmakers. Competition is fierce: 4,322 shorts were submitted to Sundance this year. Only 73 will be screened.

No Umbrella serves as a sampling of Ohio’s flawed election system.

“They forgot to stick the punch cards into the machines,” says Paglin. “This movie is about how what should be a simple thing can become just so difficult.”

Next up for Paglin is a feature-length doc about three hippies who met in a hotel room in 1974 in order to devise a scheme to own every coffeehouse in America. Those hippies became the founders of Starbucks, Arabica, and Coffee Connection.

“I’ve already shot some footage on high-definition digital video,” says Paglin. “It looks great. But we need funding.”

Maybe she can ask Bobby Redford for a loan.