Slamdance Film Festival Review: ‘A Great Lamp’ shines bright.

SYNOPSIS

Set in a small riverside town in North Carolina, two sad vandals and an unemployed loner long await for a fabled rocket launch.

A Great Lamp isn’t about what you think it’s about. Although, I’m not sure what I really thought it was about until the final 30 minutes. This film is like no other. Shot in black and white, at intrusive angles, with rudimentary line animation scattered over narratives, it’s whacky and wonderful and slightly reminiscent of MTV’s Liquid Television. Three men, each unique and yet totally suited to be friends await a mysterious rocket launch. But, as I said, that’s not really what the film is about. Underneath the twisty dialogue that may or may not be completely ad-libbed, there is a dark sadness. Each man has lost a parental figure, whether literally or emotionally. Dealing with depression and emptiness among surrounding quirkiness is just another aspect that makes A Great Lamp so intriguing. It is perfect for festival goers and cinephiles alike seeking something off the beaten path.

Showings – select to order tickets:
Fri, Jan 25th, 3:00 PM @ Ballroom
  • Runtime:
    77 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    USA
  • Premiere:
    World Premiere
  • Director:
    Saad Qureshi
  • Screenwriter:
    Saad Qureshi, Donald R. Monroe, Max Wilde, Spencer Bang, Steven Maier
  • Producer:
    Saad Qureshi, Donald R. Monroe, Alison Donohue
  • Cast:
    Max Wilde, Spencer Bang, Steven Maier, Julian Semilian, Laura Ingram Semilian, Netta Green, Connie Stewart, Smokey, Spaz
  • Cinematographer:
    Donald R. Monroe
  • Editor:
    Max Wilde

Tribeca Film Festival Review 2017: ‘NOVEMBER’ is a striking folklore fantasy.

Immerse yourself in 19th century Estonian folklore – feel the mud and cold, the fear and joy of the peasants living side-by-side with cows, werewolves and kratts, the farmers’ helpers, created out of old tools, hay, and animal bones, and brought to life by the devil himself. Director Rainer Sarnet elevates his film above mere period drama, sprinkling the fable of peasant girl Liina’s doomed romance with Hans with generous amounts of humor, and enriching its earthy fairytale milieu with beautiful black and white cinematography. Sarnet’s attention to detail, in particular in capturing the farmers’ dynamic and expressive faces, humanizes and adds a warm depth to the environment as Liina and Hans ponder the great mysteries of life, love, and the existence of the soul, looking for meaning and explanations anywhere they can.

 

November is everything a non-cinephile might think of when it the phrase “foreign film” is haphazardly thrown about. That is exactly what makes this film so intriguing. With its stunning black and white cinematography and its unapologetic folklore elements, the story delves into the question of living a life with or without a soul. The wonderfully weird characters and themes, including death, witchcraft,  and the devil himself, all make November one completely engrossing cinematic experience. Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired North American rights to Sarnet‘s film ahead of its world premiere in the international narrative category. Below you can find the trailer, and while it does not yet contain English subtitles, you quickly grasp the tone of the film. We will, of course, keep you updated on release dates for this unique selection.

FILM INFO
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Rainer Sarnet
  • Screenwriter:
    Rainer Sarnet
  • Cinematographer:
    Mart Taniel
  • Editor:
    Jaroslaw Kaminski
  • Composer:
    Jacaszek
  • Producer:
    Katrin Kissa
  • Co-Producer:
    Ellen Havenith, Lukasz Dzieciol
  • Cast:
    Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt, Taavi Eelmaa, Dieter Laser

Liz’s Review: ‘SET FIRE TO THE STARS’ ignites the screen

Set Fire To The Stars_Poster

It’s rare these days to see something so clever, elegant, and passionate all at once. SET FIRE TO THE STARS is the story of New York academic John Malcolm Brinnin and famous poet Dylan Thomas’ brief but impactful relationship. Brinnin takes it upon himself to bring Thomas to America for a series of 25 poetry readings across the country. Ignoring the rumors that Dylan is erratic in personality and behavior, Brinnin risks his career to bring his idol to the US. Brinnin makes the fated decision to extract him from the city for a few days in order to detox mind and body, and Thomas brings a whirlwind of spirit, tenacity, and his haunted past right to John’s doorstep.  When idolatry blinds common sense, is disappointment inevitable?

Celyn Jones in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Celyn Jones in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Celyn Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Andy Goddard, gives an impeccable performance as Thomas. Never missing a beat, every breath and moment of silence is accounted for with an endless saturation of greatness. Celyn has had a  consistently successful television career over the years and is rumored to have been cast in the upcoming production of Mary Shelley’s Monster alongside our very own Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner. I truly hope this turns out to be true. I want to see so much more  of Celyn on screen, any size will do for my liking. He and Elijah Wood have completely believable chemistry together. Two men from different worlds, who I believe envy one another for very different reasons. Known for his long eclectic career for films like The Lord of the Rings to more recent indie gem Grand Piano, Wood has picked another winning script and delivers. His performance is pensive and thought-provoking.  Brinnin goes through quite the journey during the course of this particular snapshot in time. Set Fire To The Stars is based upon Brinnin’s novel titled Dylan Thomas in America. To be more specific, only 7 pages of  his novel make up the entire basis of the script, and what a glorious 7 pages chosen by Jones and Goddard.

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

The film is shot in black & white giving it a timeless quality. With a luscious beatnik jazz inspired soundtrack, Andy Goddard‘s directorial debut sings off the screen. Glorious lighting and splendid camera work take the slight exhale of a cigarette and create an ethereal piece of art. Long, heavy dialogue takes are beyond engrossing, they are poetry in their own right. Proof that Jones and Goddard teaming up was pure genius. Combined with the deliciously affected speech of the literary elite and era, Jones and Woods give us performances that might otherwise sound droll had it not been for the clear understanding and passion behind the text. This film is like like perfect ice cream sundae, with everything on top. If you are already a poetry fan, well, you might as well consider yourself down for the count. You will absolutely fall for this movie. I, for one, will be adding this to my DVD collection as soon as it becomes available, which thankfully, is very soon.

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

I was lucky enough to be a part of an intimate roundtable interview with Celyn and Elijah just yesterday. How method is Celyn when it comes to role preparation? Will Elijah be starring in a mistaken identity flick with Daniel Radcliffe? Find out all the juicy details in this extraordinarily fun interview in our newest episode of the Girls On Film podcast. Enjoy!

Celyi Jones and Elijah Wood. Roundtable interview for Set Fire  To The Stars. Photo by Liz Whittemore

Celyn Jones and Elijah Wood. Roundtable interview for Set Fire To The Stars. Photo by Liz Whittemore

OPENS FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015 in New York at The Village East, with a Los Angeles and major city roll out, June 19th!

SET FIRE TO THE STARS will be released nationwide on July 21 on DVD, VOD, Digital platforms and Itunes.

Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Format: DCP/2.35/B&W

Sound Format: Dolby Digital

Running Time: 93 minutes

Genre: Drama

Rating: Not Rated

In English

 

Based on true events, Elijah Wood stars as John Malcolm Brinnin, the New York academic who brought Dylan Thomas to America. Actor/co-writer Celyn Jones plays the volatile celebrity poet – tormented by anonymity, alcohol and the abyss – who scandalized the Manhattan literati of the Fifties and challenged Brinnin’s hero worship of his work. In the face of the Welsh poet’s wilder excesses in the Big Apple – angel, beast and madman – John has no choice but to hijack Dylan to a private retreat to get him ready for America. The days and nights that follow will change his life forever. Part literary biopic and – shot in cut-glass black-and-white – part love-letter to the American B-movies of the Forties and Fifties, Andy Goddard’s debut feature is both a character driven chamber piece and a cautionary tale about the flytrap of meeting your heroes.

Tribeca Film Festival reviews: ‘DEMOCRATS’ and ‘VIAJE’. Both are sweet and sour for drastically different reasons

Democrats stillDemocrats- Documentary

In a place where the people are being silenced by the old regime, free speech is punished, in a country that has produced a landscape of mindless and terrified sheep, this absorbing documentary takes us behind the curtain of the political system in Zimbabwe. Politics is full of pretenders. They fully admit to glazing over the truth and using bullying tactics to coral followers like cattle. A broken system attempts to fix itself with the formation of a dual party constitutional committee. We are privy to embattled showdowns with one party busing on “locals” for support and the opposition party fighting for it’s people’s lives, literally. Can two men guide an entire country through peaceful transition?

This is a drastic portrait of how money and power control politics. Talking points, denial, broken promises are all things we understand in the United States, but in Zimbabwe, in the shadow of Mugabe, this is something altogether next level for these people. The lies and the violence are all on camera. Despite this, it is two steps forward and 20 steps back. Whichever side you happen to be, DEMOCRATS is a brave and brilliantly cut together piece of art. The filmmakers and all those involved must be saluted for standing for something in a place where nothing is the norm.

Directed and written by Camilla Nielsson
(Denmark)—North American Premiere

In the wake of Robert Mugabe’s highly criticized 2008 presidential win, a constitutional committee was created in an effort to transition Zimbabwe away from authoritarian leadership. With unprecedented access to the two political rivals overseeing the committee, this riveting, firsthand account of a country’s fraught first steps towards democracy plays at once like an intimate political thriller and unlikely buddy film. In English, Shona with subtitles.

VIAJE_Press_1 Tribeca

Viaje- Narrative, Comedy

Lust at first sight is relatively common. Taking a chance on a stranger, these days, is pretty uncommon. Luciana and Pedro meet at a costume party and decide to leave together on a whim. Alcohol fueled inhibition leads to the prolonged weekend together camping. This film is about two people learning about each other, trusting each other, going with the flow. Relationships are complicated, but maybe, this one doesn’t have to be.

Viaje has some of the most genuine and funny dialogue I have heard in long time. When two people click, this is how they communicate. The chemistry between lead actors Kattia Gonzalez and Fernando Bolaños is palpable and delicious. They are passionate and natural and I could have watched them play off one another for ages. The film’s score is lively and fun. The camera work has a superb energy that keeps up with our vivacious leads. Shot is beautiful black and white and at a tight 70 minutes, Viaje is an honest picture of mature feelings and elegant understandings we face as we grow together and apart.

Directed By: Paz Fábrega  

Country: Costa Rica

After meeting at a party, Luciana and Pedro spark up a spontaneous rendezvous when Luciana accompanies Pedro to a national forest on a work trip. Eschewing the fraudulent nature of traditional relationships, the pair explores the beauty in the nature that surrounds them as they indulge in the passions of their encounter and navigate the various meanings of commitment.

Find out more about these two films at Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015