OUT THIS WEEK

Debts owned aren't always as easy as Debts paid especially Downeast

  DOWNEAST (DRAMA/CRIME/THRILLER) WRITTEN BY GREG FINLEY & JOE RAFFA , DIRECTED BY JOE RAFFA STARRING GREG FINLEY & DYLAN SILVER SYN...

Friday, February 12, 2021

Go Indie Now previews the now LIVE 2021 Slamdance Film Festival New program and Narrative Features

Hey everybody -

I know you have seen the several interviews already posted by us at Go Indie Now talking to the filmmakers and those involved in the films (and we have more to bring you) that are being featured at this year's Slamdance Film Festival but now SLAMDANCE has officially begun.

This is an opportunity like no other. For a mere $10 you can have complete and total access to the amazing programming that is happening at Slamdance this year. There is literally more than 100 films to watch over the next 2 weeks. 20 + premieres that have never been seen anywhere else.

If you are a film lover, call yourself a cinephile, and/or are looking to broaden your horizons with incredible Indie films, THIS IS THE BEST BARGAIN going and an incredible place to start building your Top 10, Best of lists, and fall in love with films you may have had very little chance to see till most likely the end of the year or even the next year after that.


So let me give you some good places to start your film-watching journey at this year's festival...


The 1st thing that stands out is a brand new block of programming that I have just been so impressed with and am so glad and proud that Slamdance is the one leading the way with all these films. I am speaking of the UNSTOPPABLE Block. This is the 1st year that the festival is doing this and what it entails is featuring short films that either feature disabled actors, a subject matter about disabilities, and/or were made by disabled filmmakers. In programming, this and sharing these #ownvoices stories Slamdance is really setting a high standard for filmmakers to really show their chops, and believe me when I tell you, this block brings it strong.

In fact this block has to be my favorite programmed set, not only for what it represents and says but for the films themselves and the filmmaking that is on display here. These films are irreverent, fun, educational, and uniquely inventive. Here are a few of the highlights and standouts from this block:
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ENDOMIC

A film by Camille Hollett-French and Ipek Ensari


SYNOPSIS: An exhaustive meta-analytic review documenting a mysterious “women's” issue, otherwise known as endometriosis1 (1term used to describe a clinical etiology that thus far has only been identified in primates with a female reproductive system, an anatomical structure of decidedly lower importance in comparison to those of the male primate.)

WHAT THIS FILM DOES WELL: It explores a troubling and vicious issue with smart, snappy wit and sarcasm. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Camille Hollett-French back in 2019 in Park City, when one of her episodes of her 3 part series called Her Story in 3 Parts ("The Absence of Angels" was the part featured at the festival that year) premiered in the 1st ever Episodics Block at the festival. It's no secret that I am a fan of her storytelling style and the manner in which she tackles tough subject matter head on and really gives you so much to absorb in doing so. This short is no different. It has her signature all over it but what is different is the way in which there is an amazing blend of animation, live action sarcastic ( I would call them skits almost) scenes, infused with a sometimes mockumentary style, and then it switches to a more true documentary style that aims to not just entertain but educate you. This is a perfect balancing act and a great short that really brings this subject to life and gives us an incredible opportunity to learn more about how we can help with this issue.












FULL PICTURE & A$$ LEVEL 


Full Picture was directed by Jacob Reed, A$$ Level by Alison Becker

FULL PICTURE SYNOPSIS: Santina has been in a wheelchair since she was six years old. With meetings, hangouts, and classes happening virtually due to the Coronavirus quarantine, she's experiencing something new: Choosing when (or if) to disclose her disability.


A$$ LEVEL SYNOPSIS:
A$$ Level is a comedic music video that celebrates life with a disability while paying homage to 90s dance videos.

WHAT THESE FILMS DO REALLY WELL
: Is it really fair to put two films together, two completely different films entirely even? Well it is when you have to consider both feature the immensely talented Santina Muha. Santina being the star of both makes her a strong contender for George Starks Spirit of Slamdance Award. An award given to the person who best just radiates what Slamdance is all about. Santina is definitely getting my vote. She is amazing in both of these roles, one in which essentially she's not playing a role at all, just being herself. So let me break down both films for you...

Let's start with Full Picture...such smart idea that really challenges you, your perception, and even to an extent your true bias. Look, everyone has something that has that bias and this film really calls that out. I think what Jacob Reed, the director, developed and how smartly he does it really does 2 amazing things: It brings internal awareness and introspection, and second it shows you how much Santina is just a star and how real she is. There is a moment when even she becomes incredibly self-aware, maybe even one of my all-time favorite moments in a film, ever. It is so poignant, so real (because it is real), and so genuine. The concept fits in so neatly with how I feel like you can use what we are experiencing right now, being marginalized to a zoom call that is, for the grand effect of telling a narrative. This film does it superbly.

Then there is the complete opposite spectrum in A$$ Level, which is a satirical and just so funny music video parody. Again being able to see why Santina is just one of those superstars here is so easy, and you do not have to wait long for it. Again, even though this is almost all farce, it is actually so amazing because it's not only self-aware and brings out a strong message, it is shot so beautifully as a film or more aptly music video. It uses all the conventions of what you would recognize in a music video and really highlights how clever it was to do this pan out or this lighting scheme here and there. It is actually quite genius and one of the best shot films at the entire festival.

Do yourself favor and make sure you watch both back to back. At the very least watch both.






THE CO-OP

A Film by Cameron S Mitchell

SYNOPSIS: A robber's plan goes horribly awry when he realizes the store he has targeted is full of disabled people.

WHAT THIS FILM DOES WELL:
Speaking of gorgeously shot films, The Co-op is near flawless in the way it looks and pulls off this amazing effect where it looks like a mega-budget film. That being said, none of it works without the actors really leaning into what at first is unexpected turn after unexpected turn. Then almost seamlessly and comically leaning heavily into that premise with almost daring tongue and cheek precision. To then to hit you with one last twist. Josh Matthews especially shines as the frustrated robber. Also there is a great sequence with Cameron's (the filmmaker) father, David. One of the funniest scenes in the short. Cameron S Mitchell is a director that I think will be someone to keep an eye on, he was born to tell stories and does it well. This is a triumph that keeps you engaged, laughing, and just amazed. Awesome that a film like this exists. Even more awesome that Slamdance gravitated toward it (not surprised at all though).


THIS WHOLE BLOCK OF PROGRAMMING IS SO WORTH THE $10 ON ITS OWN BUT AS THEY SAY...WAIT, THERE'S MORE....

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a champion of Narrative Features. Even if you want to tell me they are dying or they look not to be much more than a vehicle for a star to shine or sometimes even fall flat. Or you want to harp on how in even the town of Park City where the party volunteers get a film deal, they don't hold much weight in the wheeling and dealing industry anymore. However, that shouldn't stop good stories being told with strong 3 Act Structures and all within a 90-100 minute block. To me, it is the foundation of story. It is the backbone of how great Episodics came to be, how Documentaries have blossomed with a narrative structure that has become in their own right narrative features, not just infomercials or sauntering drab babble, and how short films have paved the way for a narrative story to be made without needing so much more than 1 credit card.

I want to talk about 2 incredible narratives that I wouldn't be surprised that at year's end you hear me talking about them again.....











A BRIXTON TALE

Written by Rupert Baynham & Chi MaiDirected by Darragh Carey & Bertrand Desrochers
Starring Ola Orebiyi, Lily Newmark, Craige Middleburg, and Jamie Winstone

SYNOPSIS:
A voyeuristic, wealthy vlogger finds herself drawn to a handsome, shy youth from the infamous Barrier Block housing project. Their relationship with each other, and with the camera, leads them down a dangerous path.


WHAT THIS FILM DOES REALLY WELL: This film reminds me a lot of the early days of the Indies when narrative features were getting those big signing deals. As I mentioned in the interview I did with the Co-Directors and Ola, who plays Benji (more on him in a bit), this has such a Sex, Lies, and Videotape feel to it but only plays with that mystique because it is so much more. I almost feel like Desrochers & Carey have found a way to up what that film brought and near-perfect it in a modern way. The power of this film is not in the dialogue, it's in the choices. The first choice is to use the handheld camera in a manner that almost feels like an antagonizing, obtrusive, noisy neighbor who is full of their own opinions, not as a mere observer, to the human condition. The second is the actors chosen to play their respective roles. It starts with the leads in Lily Newmark and Ola Orebiyi, who are just tour de forces. Then all of their amazingness is supplemented greatly by Craig Middleburg, from whom without Archie in this film, this would be a film with a lot of holes and questions that just skew and possibly annoy the audience instead of intrigue us. There are in fact 3 more of those type of characters that also brought stellar performances that mattered so much in Dexter Padmore who plays Benji's (Ola's role) cousin, Jamie Winstone who plays Tilda, Leah's (Lily's role) mentor, and Rose Kerr as Inez who plays Benji's mother. The chemistry is so rich, especially between Lily and Benji, and Archie and Benji, but with everyone shining in strong moments. It serves as the magnet that draws you in. Then what keeps you there are the amazing choices of the directors and their cinematographer. There is such a richness in color schemes. Then add in the depth of the franticness of a handheld camera cutting into hard cuts of established still shots that are so well-paced and placed. This film really has an amazing aesthetic but it also has an amazing story. The harmony in which all this works together is what makes this film a contender for best of the year, easily.












MAN UNDER TABLE

Written, Directed, and stars Noel David Taylor

Also starring Ben Babbitt and Danny Lane

SYNOPSIS: In an anachronistic dystopian landscape, a beleaguered young man attempts to navigate his way through the indie film scene in LA.

WHAT THIS FILM DOES REALLY WELL: Okay, yes, it is true, I am someone who loves a good film about making movies. Especially in the sardonic tone that this film chooses to use but this parody as absurd as you might think it to be, it's not as far away from the truth as you might think. This is why, as someone who experienced what Guy experiences, firsthand, I can relate to so much of what is here on the screen. That being said while this may be the polar opposite of A Brixton Tale in pacing, it is similar in how it presents itself and how this movie really hits it mark that really makes it top notch. The settings are brilliant and the framing within those settings which sets the tone, mood, and creates incredible feelings of loneliness and frustration is what brings the depth. It's the sharp dialogue and banter though that sell the humor and bring the absurdities full circle. In talking to Noel, it is amazing to me how much he really did here and took on knowing this was going to be heavy even with the sharp dialogue and great sets and colors. It's a testament to an artist's vision and passion to see it through that really makes this film what it is and what is it, simply put is awesome.







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So this is a good start for you all, tomorrow I go over the Documentary and Animation side of the festival, which is yet again a highlight and the programming is just stellar. Then I will do one more post next week playing catch up with what I hadn't seen yet (there are over 100 films and I plan to see most if not all of them but it is still a lot).

In the meantime, if you got the pass and you watch one of the above films or see something else in the UNSTOPPABLE or NARRATIVE FEATURES blocks you think should be mentioned by all means leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear about it.

If you don't have a pass yet, you can go here: https://slamdance.com/festival-passes/ and for $10 experience all the great things Slamdance has to offer from your favorite place in the house. You don't even have to put on pants. The festival runs from the 12th to the 25th. So you have time to watch all you want and can.

And remember, "It's Always Time to Go Indie Now" and go to the Slamdance Film Festival, one of my favorites.




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