Independent Film Festival — Cinequest 2016
Cinequest ended its thirteen-day run on Sunday night. Last year, I watched three films. This year equipped with a Maverick Badge, allowing me to view unlimited films, I sat through 27 independent films and walked out of one. On day 10, I was sick of watching movies in the theatre.
Although my clothes still smell like popcorn, I wanted to get some thoughts down on movies I enjoyed.
Love Is All You Need?
This was the stand-out favorite among Cinequest attendees which is based on a short-film that went viral. The film takes the viral-video story and blends it with the story of a star college football player who has a relationship with a man. The twist is the college football player is a woman. In the world of Love Is All You Need? homosexuality is commonplace while heterosexuality is taboo.
Kim Rocco Shields (Rocky), the directory and writer, has been on a 10-year mission to make Love Is All You Need? and her dedication shows. She was careful with the stories her film told. The film is based on events where homosexuals are the victims but has changed the context of the story by allowing the events to happen to heterosexuals. It is a powerful film and will begin a dialogue among those who would bully, punish, or condemn homosexuals and hopefully change some minds at the same time.
The first film of the festival that made me thankful that I purchased a Maverick Badge. Up until this point I thought I had just been lucky last year with good movie selection.
The Saver follows Fern, a sixteen year-old First Nation girl who loses her mother and doesn’t want to be placed in a foster home. Her mother is a house cleaner and Fern impersonates her mother and continues cleaning her mother’s assigned homes. Upon cleaning one home she comes across a self-help book explaining through saving the saver can become a millionaire. The book impresses her and she begins to save all she comes across.
The film, which is based on Edeet Ravel’s book, is told beautifully and although it has Canadian distribution it doesn’t have U.S. Distribution yet.
Magallanes is an ex-soldier who has nothing. His days are occupied between using his friend’s car to drive his old Colonel, who has late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, around town and finding people to to taxi. The friend who loans him the car was also a soldier and explains to Magallenes how he misses those days. Soldiers, including his friend, committed atrocities were during the conflict in Ayacucho. The film does a great job showing the fallout of people involved in war. Magallanes doesn’t only localize the problem to soldiers, but, shows what happens to those who get caught up in the war and to those who weren’t involved in the war at all.
An out-of-work actor struggles with having his girlfriend be the bread winner of the house. The millennial comedy perfected the formula used in Meet the Parents by being funny and uncomfortable at the same time. Dependent’s Day forces you to grip-your-seat and tighten-your-legs.
The film highlights great things you can do in independent film. Things which you can’t do in a politically-correct hollywood-budget movie. One example is an antagonizing boss who suffers no repercussions from sexually harassing one of the characters. Another is demonstrating how society (represented by friends and their accountant) continues to be uncomfortable with a man not being the head-of-the-house and a woman being the sole provider.
My favorite film of the festival. Lost Solace explores the question, what would happen to a psychopath if they began to feel? Spence, a man only living to please himself, takes a new party drug while at a dance club only to find the trip lasting longer than expected. Upon feeling empathy for others he is distraught by his own actions.
The acting is phenomenal and the darkness of the characters is mimicked by the feel of the film.
The director, Chris Scheuerman, is someone to watch.
February (The Blackcoat’s Daughter)
Another horror story by A24, involves two girls at an all girl’s boarding school. Kat, one of the girls, is not acting like herself. We don’t have any previous examples to demonstrate this, it is the headmaster who asks her, “Are you feeling okay?” The two girls parents don’t pick them up for winter break and the two are left to their own devices for a few days until their parents can get to the school.
The film is reminiscent and heavily influenced by The Shining. We know something isn’t right, but we aren’t sure what it is. The film carries a dreariness throughout and engrosses you as the story unfolds.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a story which seems straight forward, but, isn’t. It doesn’t call out everything that is going on. It doesn’t do the who, what, when, where, and why. It leaves those questions as an exercise for the watcher. Films don’t do this anymore. They are incredibly heavy handed and I’m looking forward to Osgood Perkins next film.
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