Review: We Are One – A Global Film Festival short film ‘CIRCUS PERSON’ is an emotional high wire act.

Synopsis:
Left by her fianceì for another woman, a grieving painter (Britt Lower) abandons the life she knew to join the seemingly chaotic, yet invigorating world of a one-ring circus. Intermingling live-action circus arts and animated body paint, CIRCUS PERSON follows an introspective artist through the often humorous landscape of heartbreak to reclaim her forgotten wildness.

 

 

 

 

This mixed media, sometimes stop animation, twist on a “Dear John” letter is simply amazing. Vibrantly colored, engrossingly shot, Circus Person is a little bit of every visual storytelling treat you didn’t know you needed. It’s poetic and cathartic and funny. Watching it literally makes me want to join a circus for my own set of personal reasons. The script is easily about grieving, changing, and accepting the fact that we cannot control a damn thing. I first met Britt Lower at the premiere of Beside Still Waters (which if you haven’t seen, do yourself a favor and experience some more great storytelling). This feat of acting, directing, and writing is ripe for further development. (Hint, hint) I want to know what happens next. It is smart and touching from every angle. I highly recommend you catch it while you can! You can watch Circus Person on YouTube now as part of Tribeca’s contribution to the We Are One – A Global Film Festival.

TRT:                                      17 min
Country:                               USA
Curated by:                          Tribeca Film Festival

Screening information:
CIRCUS PERSON will be available to view for 10 days at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioS4X7O2sZA&feature=youtu.be

Creative Team:
DIRECTOR/WRITER:                          Britt Lower
CREATIVE PRODUCER/EDITOR:      Alex Knell
PRODUCERS:                                     Sam Fox, Desiree Staples
CO-PRODUCERS:                              Alexandre Naufel, Jasmine Dickens
ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS:               Elsa Gay, Tricia Lee
CINEMATOGRAPHER:                       Alexandre Naufel
COMPOSER:                                       Jason Lesser
BODY-PAINTING:                                Christopher Agostino
CAST:                                                   Britt Lower, Philip Smithey, Jess Marks, Ramona Young

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 review: Angela Bettis clocks in for ’12 Hour Shift’

It’s 1998 and over the course of one 12 Hour Shift at an Arkansas Hospital, A Junkie Nurse (Angela Bettis), Her Scheming Cousin (Chloe Farnworth) and a group of black market Organ-Trading criminals (Mick Foley, David Arquette, Dusty Warren) start a heist that could lead to all of their demises.

Angela Bettis is horror royalty in my book. Watching her interpret Brea Grant’s script is heaven. During this uncertain, weird, and exhausting time in our history, watching an overworked nurse with vices for days adds an extra element of terrifying WTF. Bettis is a revelation. The weight of desperation and the constant barrage of emotional abuse is palpable. It is written on her face. There is so much backstory bubbling under the surface. I would watch an entire series developed from 12 Hour Shift. (Hint, Hint)

The opening scene is divine in establishing the attitude of Bettis’ character. It’s a symphonic white trash word vomit. The attention detail of Y2K paranoia and the late ’90’s in general land perfectly between over-the-top and completely legit. If you lived through it, you’ll laugh and nod. But it’s the delicious moral dilemma that Grant has given us that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. We’re definitely rooting for bad over worse and it is fun as hell. The climax is so batshit crazy it’s like watching a ping-pong tournament; super fast and just as fantastically absurd. Performances all around are stellar. Practical FX are gagworthy and wonderful. The final scene is actually the most frightening. Brea Grant, I’ll be looking forward to a sequel to 12 Hour Shift, ASAP.

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 review: Short films, ‘I Can Change’, ‘Beyond Noh’, ‘Grey Zone’, ‘Look At Me’.

Beyond Noh

Beyond Noh rhythmically animates 3,475 individual masks from all over the world.

The transitions are meticulously crafted. The specific choices of masked on a downbeat are no accident. Even though you are experiencing over 3 thousand masks in under 3 and a half minutes, each one make an impact much larger than you can immediately process. I actually spotted one we inherited years ago. The story behind it makes us fearful to toss it. It presently lives in a closet. Beyond Noh is a simply stunning short.

 

I Can Change

The night before his wedding, an underachiever (John Hoogenakker) receives the power to stop time, so he attempts to make major life changes his fiancé (Lucy Cudden) wants him to make, all before morning.

The transitions are meticulously crafted. The specific choices of masked on a downbeat are no accident. Even though you are experiencing over 3 thousand masks in under 3 and a half minutes, each one make an impact much larger than you can immediately process. I actually spotted one we inherited years ago. The story behind it makes us fearful to toss it. It presently lives in a closet. Beyond Noh is a simply stunning short.

Look At Me

On a winter night in New York City, a young, intoxicated boy’s (Connor Vasile) fate is determined by his brief encounters with strangers, and a deeper American truth is exposed.

This poignant short puts a mirror up to society, especially here in New York City. We want to believe we’d do right by own fellow city dwellers, but the longer you live here the thicker the protective armor becomes. The writing and editing lead you to out yourself in multiple character’s shoes. It’s incredibly well done from every single angle. This is one of the festival’s best this year.

 

Grey Zone

On an urban crosswalk, Neta (Rachel Yaron) finds herself following a man (Udi Pers) who touched her abruptly and without her consent.

In the era of #MeToo, this short is incredibly powerful. From the specific dialogue choices to women empowering other women, to the recapturing of your own narrative. All this in just 10 minutes. It’s a brave film.

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 interview: Filmmaker Justin Fair on his highly stylised short, ‘Sloan Heart Neckface’

Synopsis: Sloan (Clara Mamet) has a not-so-low-key crush on Neckface, an anonymous graffiti artist. Neckface (Raúl Castillo) has less-than-resolved intimacy issues and a no relationship policy. Which he makes abundantly clear to his obsessive fan girl. That is, until Neckface realizes he and Sloan may be the same kind of crazy; and embarks on a mission to win her back. Which may or may not involve exploiting his roommate (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), stealing a much-coveted pair of sneakers, and incurring the wrath of a ferocious lunch lady.
Appearing in the New York Shorts Program at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival 2020, Sloan Hearts Neckface is something special. It’s an incredibly engaging 15 minutes. It was like watching a tennis match of NYC characters. As a New Yorker, it really felt like home. It’s visually vibrant and quite emotionally turbulent. I was lucky enough to speak with filmmaker Justin Fair on what makes Sloan Hearts Neckface as unique as it is. Check out our interview and the teaser trailer below.
Did the initial script look and feel like the now finished film?
Yes! I hope so anyway. I hope we captured what was great about the script. Some things we captured quite literally from what was written, a lot we cut, and a lot we elaborated on, but I hope the essence remained intact.
I adore that each character has a signature color. Whose decision was that?
It’s great to hear that translates! We had an extremely talented Art Director, Lydia White, who lives in a Shell House. She created these beautiful mood boards consisting of a lot of Blues and Reds and we decided to run with that. I wanted not only for the characters to have a certain color, but also to have those colors impose themselves on the other characters at certain times of the story.
Have you ever had someone who was, shall we say, “a little more than enthusiastic”, pursue you?
Haha. I can’t say that I’ve ever been pursued in the way Sloan pursues Neckface in the film. I’ve never had that pleasure.
Who does the art on the letters?
We had a whole team of artists work on the art. I thought it important that each character’s artwork came from a different artist. The Neckface character actually had several artists: Jeff Weinberg did the sketches on the Priority Mail stickers, Landon Webb designed all but one of the tags. The big practical tag that Neckface rips off the fence was done by John Gagliano. Jenny Herbert created all of Sloan’s artwork. Henry White did Lester’s portraits of Sloan, and Ruth Sylvestre did the other Lester drawings. Really proud of all their work, thank you for asking.
Are Neckface’s tags real? 
Absolutely not haha! There’s actually only one practical tag in the film and that was one made on our own materials. The rest of the tags that appear on subway beams, buildings, and monuments were created and then added afterward by a great VFX guy, Matt Brant. He did all the compositing, tracking and rotoscoping.
I love that this is essentially a string of monologues. Did Ian Grody sit in on casting? 
It is a string of monologues! Initially, it was just two monologues that Ian wrote for a magazine, if I’m not mistaken. Later he expanded it to several more monologues for an evening of staged readings at NYU- which is where we met. He eventually adapted it into the short film script. Ninety percent of the actors in the film are friends of Ian and mine. We never held auditions.
Do you have a favorite short film?
No, I can’t say I do. I don’t get to see enough of them. There are a lot of places online to see them now, but I prefer to see them in a theater. The earliest short films I remember seeing are Charlie Chaplin’s. I still have a big love for them.
What directors inspire you?
So many greats. I love both the classics and contemporary stuff. For inspiration, I look to Scorsese, Cassavetes, Kubrick, Ozu, Billy Wilder, Hitchcock, Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, Denis Villeneuve, Wes Anderson
What is the most rewarding part of directing for you, and also what is the most challenging? 
The most rewarding part of directing is for me is being surprised by my collaborators. If your collaborators feel like they can take risks and be heard and their contributions will be honored (as opposed to having their job/performance dictated to them), then they will give to the film in beautiful and surprising ways. In other words, if I’ve created the space for everyone involved to feel like they own a piece of the film, then we all got to do what we came to do and that love will show up on the screen. That’s when I feel most successful as a director. The most challenging part of directing is the discipline of rolling with the punches because things will always go wrong. When they do, the challenge is to embrace it as a chance for creative problem-solving. I try and trust that it’s just the film finding its own way. It pretty much always leads to something better than what was planned.

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 interview: Best Narrative Short Winner- writer/director Abraham Adeyemi and his film ‘No More Wings’

At a divergent point in their lives, two lifelong friends (Ivanno Jeremiah, Parys Jordon) meet at their favorite South London fried chicken shop.

 

The directorial debut from Abraham Adeyemi, ‘No More Wings in the Don’t Look Back program was the winner of the Best Narrative Short Competition at Tribeca 2020. Once you experience the film for yourself, you’ll immediately understand why. With captivating storytelling, in a mere 10 minutes, you will experience two lifetimes of memories, regrets, and choices. There is a heavy cyclical feeling you cannot shake as you watch. The authenticity of the writing, directing, and performances will stick with you long after the credits. I was lucky enough to interview Abraham during the festival and get to peek behind the curtain of the process and the mindset. I cannot wait to see what is coming to audiences next.

 

 

Abraham, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me about this extraordinary short. This feels like a major labor of love for you. Can you describe the specific inspiration for a story that will undoubtedly resonate with so many?

Hi Liz, thank you for having me and for the kind words about the film! Sure thing. Well, whilst this film isn’t biographical… My upbringing wasn’t too dissimilar to the two characters. I was raised in South London, went to a Grammar School… What really inspired me was spending some time thinking about two friends I grew up with whose lives have turned out quite differently, and imagining what it might be like if they were to meet at this point in their lives. And, above all in some ways, trying to understand why their lives have turned out differently when things were so similar for them.

 

What did you learn from your mentorship with Sam Mendes? 

There was something that Sam said to me on set of 1917 which I actually wrote down… He said that I needed to make sure there was somewhere on set that I could be to concentrate and watch takes alone, without anyone’s opinion and that I always needed to be sure for myself that “this is what I wanted”. As I learned whilst on set, there are times where – for a host of different reasons – people might think they hit a scene but if it’s not how you imagined it, even the smallest detail, then it means it needs to be done again until it is. And whilst I didn’t have the gigantic set-up that Sam had – it was like a blacked-out marquee with TV screens and all sorts of tech that probably cost more than our film – in our own low budget way, we were able to ensure that I could concentrate and watch takes back without anyone else’s opinions but my own.

 

Being both writer and director, did you find yourself changing the script as you shot?

There were no major changes whilst we were shooting, no. I did quite a lot of work on the script beforehand. I initially wrote the script with just my writer hat on. Then, eventually, I had to switch to the director hat. On the morning of the first shoot day, I made a final few tweaks – things that probably came off the back of the rehearsal we did the day before – but I went in pretty happy with what we had on paper and I was more concerned about getting great performances and how things looked visually. On occasion, actors may have asked me if they could tweak a line, or just done it off their own volition and I’m usually fine with that as I trusted the actors I was working with and their understanding of the characters they were playing.

 

Thank you for adding subtitles. It was helpful to put regional slang in context. It was reminiscent of how our vernacular changes when we are most comfortable. 

Ah, thank you! I’m really glad the subtitles helped. That was actually a suggestion made by Sharon Badal at Tribeca and I’m really glad I took the advice if it means ultimately that it made it more accessible for a wider, global audience.

 

How long did you shoot for?

We shot the film over two summer nights, which also meant shorter nights! Once that sunlight even began to creep up… It was game over. The first night we shot felt straightforward but the second night… The pressure was really on. But it could have been worse, up until about ten days before the shoot I was still clinging tightly to an ambition of shooting the film as one continuous shot and my first thoughts – maybe an hour into the shoot – was that I was so glad that I was convinced to scrap that idea. 

 

Having three distinct roles, writer, director, producer, which was most enjoyable, which the most frustrating, which did you learn more from?

Ooh I love this question! I enjoyed all of them but the one which I am without a doubt most in my element with is the writing. I always say in life that I am most at peace when I have my head buried in writing and, actually, in these strange times it’s been the saving grace for my sanity. I’d have to give the frustrating award to producing because there are just so many things that go wrong but I can’t complain because, for all the hard work I did, my producer Abiola Rufai did 100x more in producing! So my frustrations must be so minimal compared to all she has to deal with… Without a doubt, I learned the most from directing. As a producer, I’m always learning but you have to remember, this was my first time directing and prior to this, I hadn’t been to film school nor taken a conscious interest in directing. From the moment I won the competition that gave me funding for this film (where one of the rules was that whoever wins must also direct the script), I had approximately ten weeks to learn how to direct. That was reading books, studying the art of filmmaking,  the great advice that my more experienced peers were able to give me and so much more. Directing was definitely a steep learning curve but I’m so excited to get behind the camera again (something I never thought I’d say!).

 

Can you give us any clues about your upcoming feature-length script? 

Which one?! There’s a concept for a No More Wings feature. 

But, as for the one I reckon you’re asking about… I’m holding it tightly to my chest but what I will say is that Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise is one of my favorite films. The entire trilogy, in fact, I love those. 

 

Abraham, congratulations on Tribeca. I cannot wait to share your film with our readers.

It’s been a pleasure talking with you, thank you for taking the time to watch the film and talk to me.

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Shorts Program review: ‘Update Required’

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Shorts Program- UPDATE REQUIRED

Out of this world Sci-Fi shorts.

Playing in this program:

Toto

Rosa Forlano, a 90-year-old Nonna, falls in love with a Robot while teaching it how to make spaghetti. Unfortunately, her recipe is forgotten after a software update.

A charming look at companionship through the eyes of a 90-year-old woman and her robot. Marco Baldonado, writes, directs, produces, and voices our titular character. It’s a lovely look at generational relationships in more ways then you’d expect.

Abducted

A tongue-in-cheek Southern thriller about a rookie cop’s (Jenna Kanell) first date gone horribly wrong.

This film immediately sent me into panic mode as a woman. Never leave your drink unattended. Don’t worry, the universe works in mysterious ways.

Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die

Jack (Justin Kirk) works at a suspension facility where people choose to halt their lives. On the night of his suspension, Jack’s life takes a turn when he meets Jo.

Justin Kirk plays a heartbroken man who is confronted with his own mortality. This film beautifully explores the small moments that make living so wonderful.

A Better You

Living in a dystopian, neo-steampunk world, a shy young man named Douglas (Seán T. Ó’Meallaigh) invests in a customizable carbon clone to help him win the girl of his dreams.

This shirt is a gorgeously stylized look at being confident in your own skin. It’s one of the most endearing performances of the festival this far.

Carmentis

An injured and grief-stricken miner (Ben Mortley) on the desolate planet Carmentis must overcome his personal demons in order to survive, but can he get there before the planet freezes?

Human instinct Vs the AI created to protect it. This short is completely unpredictable. It’s a beautiful commentary on the fragile human spirit.

The Light Side

An aging Sith Lord (Joseph Ragno) must come to grips with his past and discover why humility may be the greatest force in the galaxy.

Utilizing a booming voice over from Tim Plewman combined with lead actor Joseph Ragno’s physical performance, this film shines with true humor. It is pure fandom fun with a side order of redemption.

System Error

George works at a convenience store, desperately hoping for a friend. But George is a robotic service unit, and robotic service units do not have friends. Not yet, anyway.

This short challenges how emotion and information alter a being’s perception of others. It will leave the imagination running wild. I can safely say I would watch an entire series or full-length feature based on the storytelling laid out in this 13-minute cut. It sounds like I’ll be getting my wish, as the filmmakers have a development deal at Screen Australia for a dystopian rom-com TV show based on the characters in System Error. I could not be more excited. There is so much more to explore and laugh at here.

Free Film Festivals For Everyone! SXSW on amazon & Global Film Festival coming soon

Even non-prime members can watch the SXSW films available on amazon. You just need an amazon account, no credit card needed! You’ve got through May 6th to watch. Each film has an introduction by the director, so you really get a festival feel. It’s a great way to see a perspective without leaving the house! https://www.amazon.com/adlp/sxsw

Although it doesn’t include festivals from South America or Africa, this “global” film festival is bringing programming from 20 festivals right to you also for free! I’m looking forward to seeing what programming they will have for us! May 29th to June 7th

https://www.youtube.com/weareone

  • Annecy International Animation Film Festival – Annecy, France
  • Berlin International Film Festival – Berlin, Germany
  • BFI London Film Festival – London, UK
  • Cannes Film Festival – Paris, France
  • Guadalajara International Film Festival – Mexico
  • International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM) – Macao (China)
  • Jerusalem Film Festival – Jerusalem
  • Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI) – Mumbai
  • Karlovy Vary International Film Festival – Czechia
  • Locarno Film Festival – Switzerland
  • Marrakech International Film Festival – Marrakech, Morocco
  • New York Film Festival – New York, NY
  • San Sebastian International Film Festival – Spain
  • Sarajevo Film Festival – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Sundance Film Festival – Park City, UT
  • Sydney Film Festival – Sydney, Australia
  • Tokyo International Film Festival – Toyko, Japan
  • Toronto International Film Festival – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Tribeca Film Festival – New York, NY
  • Venice Film Festival

Review: ‘Driven’ is a great vehicle to showcase Jason Sudeikis’ talents

When you think of Back To The Future, you cannot help but see one of the most iconic cars of all time in your mind is: The DeLorean. But does anyone know a single thing about the creator of this movie legend? Few names in the tech industry evoke an immediate portrait of that person: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and perhaps now Elizabeth Holmes for better or for worse. I certainly had no clue about the tangled and complex story behind the man who would lend his name to cinematic history. Driven goes behind the proverbial curtain and sheds light on an unbelievable true tale of corruption and image through the eyes of someone who befriended this enigmatic figure. Con man to con man, takes one to know one.

Corey Stoll is probably the most believable version of a fed up FBI agent there could be. His genuinely flabbergasted attitude is the perfect foil for Sudeikis’ sardonic wit. Judy Greer, my beautiful girlcrush, is honest and spitfire as ever. One particularly climactic scene between her and Sudeikis (unmistakable once you see it) is pretty much a masterclass in scene partnering. Lee Pace is immensely unsettling and about as big of a dickhead as you need DeLorean to be. His bullshit is thick and perfect. Now, let’s get to the man of the hour. Jason Sudeikis, since I saw him in Tumbledown, is as surprising as ever. He has honest to God acting chops outside of his charming funny guy routine. More roles like this please and thank you. Bravo, once again, good sir.

The film’s pacing works well with the backdrop of Hoffman’s testimony. This is one hell of an intriguing story. You’ll need to know how it ends. Driven is about the deadly mixture of ingenuity and pride. It will take you for a ride.

Review: Based on a true story ‘Skin’ inks morality questions into our brains.

Synopsis:        After a difficult childhood drives him into the grasps of a white supremacist gang, Bryon (Jamie Bell, delivering a visceral, explosive performance) tries to escape to a new life, all the while questioning whether he’s capable of undoing— and repenting for — the evil he’s done.

Academy Award- winner Guy Nattiv makes his English-language feature debut with this galvanizing story of transformation, inspired by actual events.

Indoctrinated as a child into a white supremacist enclave, Byron finally realized the fallout of his beliefs. He is ready to start a new, tattoos and all. But past violence and pride attach themselves to his present and his attempt to escape.

Jamie Bell is ever the chameleon. His physical transformation via racist tattoos that engulf his face and upper body is pretty jarring if you know Bell’s previous work. The pain his character endures is written on his face and in his nuanced performance. Danielle MacDonald shines in yet another role. Her sharp wit and vulnerability is spot on. Vera Farmiga plays Viking club mother figure Ma. Your skin crawls as she nurtures lost youth into the lifestyle. She is truly scary.

The dialogue is unapologetically offensive. The interspersed tattoo removal sessions are some of the most effective scenes in the film with their elegant score and heightened audio. Although the film already feels long one hour in (basically halfway) the story is timely and the performances redemptive and engrossing. SKIN goes behind the scenes of a culture so vile it cannot be tolerated. The fear from the screen is visceral and incredibly effective.

Release Date:  Exclusively on DIRECTV June 27, In Theaters July 26

Running Time: 119 minutes

Rating: R

Review: RSVP yes to ‘PLUS ONE’

SYNOPSIS:  Long-time friends Alice and Ben find themselves in that inevitable year that all late 20-somethings experience—in which seemingly every person they know gets married—and agree to be one another’s plus ones as they power through an endless parade of insufferable weddings.

One summer I went to 6 weddings. It was equal parts fun, exhausting, and expensive. We learned who had gotten engaged, married, broken up, and gotten divorced since seeing some of the regulars at these blessed events. Some were shocking while frankly others we silently cheered their wreckage within the confines of our clique. Plus One explores these exact evolutions of so many relationships in our late 20s early 30s. Its honest charm and genuinely witty banter are just the tip of the iceberg of this film. The framework of the film is literally dated around each specific wedding weekend our duo attends. Don’t brush this film off as millennial drivel. Who hasn’t been stuck at the singles table or judged the food and speeches at a wedding? Hell, we still do it 8 years after our own wedding. Sorry, everyone. But the truth is funnier than fiction and PLus One nails these cliches on the head without being obnoxious. Jack Quaid is a nice foil for Maya Erskine. She is the best friend we all wish we had. Her natural ability to be funny and raw makes Plus One as wonderful as it is. The soundtrack, both the score by Leo Birenberg and original songs by Real Estate is outstanding. The dialogue has an amazing vulnerability with a side of raunch. The plot is universally relatable. You should save the date for Plus One without hesitation.

TITLE:  PLUS ONE
IN THEATERS:  June 14, 2019
ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND:  June 14, 2019
DIRECTORS:  Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
WRITERS:  Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
CAST:  Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Beck Bennett, Rosalind Chao with Perrey Reeves and Ed Begley, Jr.
TRT:  99 mins
RATING:  Not Rated
GENRE:  Romantic Comedy
DISTRIBUTOR:  RLJE Films

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Blow The Man Down’ is one of the year’s best films.

Blow The Man Down

While grieving for the loss of their mother, the Connolly Sisters suddenly find they have a crime to cover up, leading them deep into the underbelly of their salty Maine fishing village.

Growing up in a small New England town, I have a full appreciation for the glorious specificity in Blow The Man Down. From the regional slang to the understanding that everyone knows everyone else’s business, this film is filled with surprises and its very own version of a Greek chorus in Maine fisherman form. A completely femme-centric story boasts magnificent performances from the entire ensemble cast. June Squib, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugo, Margot Martindale, Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor, and Gayle Rankin. Co-directors and screenwriters Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have created a suspenseful, funny, incredibly dark murder mystery. It’s only after walking away from the screening did I realize the small clues that were sprinkled along the way and but honestly had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. It was refreshing. Martindale plays the dominant town matriarch with the skill we’ve come to expect from her. Squib, O’Toole, and Hugo are a smart trio. They cleverly play their hand close to the chest and become the saving grace of our two young leads. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor are fantastic foils as sisters. Their chemistry is spot on. Gayle Rankin’s emotional journey is much larger than it might first appear. She continues to be one to watch. Blow The Man Down is in my Top 3 films from the festival this year.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Podcast Interview: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Brea Grant share all the gory and gorgeous details of ‘Something Else’.

Something Else Podcast

Something Else was one of the most unique selections in this year’s festival. Both a monster movie and a love story, the film’s deliberate structure is a standout all on its own. The writing is fresh and funny and the use of light makes it a joy to watch. There are brilliantly theatrical moments. I believe this film would actually translate incredibly well onstage! When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a complete compliment. I sat down with co-directors Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner (who also stars and wrote the script) and star Brea Grant to chat all things Something Else. How did the script come about? What in the world were they thinking with certain choices? What did Brea think the first time she read the script?  We talk favorite movie monsters, and how the filmmakers of one of my favorite films The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, got on board. You can read my full review of Something Else here, but give a listen to the awesome time we all had together. Be warned, when I walked into the room, Christian, Jeremy, and Brea had all been in the super cool bathroom of our interview room at The Roxy Hotel taking a photo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in on the selfie action on my way out the door. Also, when you hear us refer/talk to “Ted”, we’re actually talking to We Are Still Here and Mohawk filmmaker Ted Geoghegan who just so happened to be in our presence. No big deal. Anyhow, without further ado, here is our podcast talking all things Tribeca, monsters, and Something Else.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are the filmmakers behind the indie zombie film The Battery and survival comedy Tex Montana Will Survive! Lifelong friends, both directors were born and raised in Florida.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Midnight
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    83 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Connect:
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
  • Producer:
    David Lawson Jr., Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Arvind Harinath
  • Screenwriter:
    Jeremy Gardner
  • Cinematographer:
    Christian Stella
  • Editor:
    Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner
  • Executive Producer:
    Venu Kunnappilly
  • Cast:
    Jeremy Gardner. Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Bunker Burger’ and ‘The Neighbor’s Window’, two shorts that keep you watching.

Bunker Burger

The members of an underground, post-apocalyptic bunker invite a psychologist from the radioactive and chaotic surface to audition for a place to live among them.

This short has everything you’re looking for in any film; suspense, distinct style, consuming plot, brilliant performances. There is not a hair out of place with this dark comedy. It is the perfect proof-of-concept piece. I am delighted to hear that writer/director Adam Yorke is developing it into a feature. I’m already there.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Adam Yorke is a writer/director/producer and head of development at Wildling Pictures, a ProdCo. in Toronto. He’s made two previous shorts and has had two feature scripts optioned. He’s currently writing the feature version of Bunker Burger.


The Neighbor’s Window

The Neighbors’ Window tells the true story of a middle aged woman (Maria Dizzia) with small children whose life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings (Juliana Canfield and Bret Lada) move in across the street.

This film is absolute perfection for anyone thinking the grass is always greener. A married New York City couple watching the progression of a neighboring couples’ lives play out over the course of about a year is simply captivating. In the city, personal space lines are thinly drawn. It can feel as if no one here owns curtains. But we make too many assumptions and cannot fully appreciate what we have until tragedy strikes. The Neighbor’s Window is about people. With stunning performances, a lovely score, it’s pure and wonderful.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Marshall Curry is a three-time Academy Award® -nominated documentary filmmaker. Many of his films have premiered at Tribeca and include the Academy Award®- and Emmy® -nominated documentary Street Fight, as well as A Night At The GardenRacing DreamsPoint And Shoot, and If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front.

 

 

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Charlie Says’ flips the script on the Manson girls.

 

Charlie Says

Charlie Says, directed by masterful filmmaker Mary Harron and written by Guinevere Turner, tells the familiar story through fresh eyes—those of Manson’s most devoted girls, van Houten (Game of Thrones’ Hannah Murray), Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon), and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón). Thanks to a devoted prison educator who slowly draws the women out from years of a madman’s mesmerizing and abusive spell (Matt Smith), the women’s story is told in eerily detailed flashbacks, forcing them to reflect on the path that leads them to such unforgivable crimes.

This is not a story about Charles Manson. This is a story about three women who were manipulated by a mentally ill man who convinced them they were loved. Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten, all came to be followers of Charles Manson because they were lost and looking for someone to make them feel important. It’s the performance from Hannah Murray, Sosie Bacon, and Merritt Wever that catapult this story forward. Wever, in particular, is the heartbeat that guides these broken girls into reality. Bacon represents every girl that needed Manson (played by Matt Smith with a quiet but fiercely alarming power) to be their father figure. Murray, as Leslie, is the audience. You feel for these ladies through intercut flashbacks and prison scenes. Each like a peek behind the curtain and into the insanity of a man who thought the Beatles were speaking to him through the ‘White Album”. These women were brainwashed sex slaves. It wasn’t until a feminist teacher Karlene Faith, with enough empathy to teach these women, did anyone begin to realize that they too were victims alongside those murdered. The film is chilling. The structure is disturbingly effective. You end up caring about these women who history has taught us to loathe. Charlie Says is not about Charles Manson. I’ll say it again. Charlie Says is not about Charles Manson. It is about the victims he kept closest to him.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Mary Harron is the writer and director of films including American PsychoThe Moth DiariesI Shot Andy Warhol, and The Notorious Bettie Page. Her television credits include episodes of The L WordSix Feet UnderBig Love, and Oz, and, most recently, The Following (FOX), Constantine (NBC), and Graceland (USA).

How to see the Tribeca Audience Award Winners & Runner-ups

These films will be showing tomorrow on the last day of the Tribeca Film Festival or you can also catch them below. See You Yesterday is coming to Netflix!

  • Documentary Audience Award
  • Narrative Audience Award

Airbnb-produced Gay Chorus Deep South is making its way around the country on the festival circuit. Next stop will be Montclair, NJ followed by Greenville, SC. Check out the schedule here: https://www.gaychorusdeepsouth.com/seethefilm

Gay Chorus Deep South, directed by David Charles Rodrigues, written by David Charles Rodrigues, Jeff Gilbert. Produced by Bud Johnston, Jesse Moss. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. To confront a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ laws, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on an unprecedented bus tour through the Deep South, celebrating music, challenging intolerance, and confronting their own dark coming out stories. With The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Dr. Tim Seelig, Ashlé, Jimmy White


Plus One is to be released June 14th, and I assume that means theatrically, although it is not clear.

Plus One, directed and written by Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer. Produced by Jeremy Reitz, Debbie Liebling, Ross Putman, Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer, Greg Beauchamp. (USA) – World Premiere. In order to survive a summer of wedding fever, longtime single friends Ben and Alice agree to be each other’s plus one at every goddamn wedding they’re invited to. With Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Ed Begley Jr., Rosalind Chao, Beck Bennett, Finn Wittrock.


You’ll find See You Yesterday on Netflix on May 17th.

See You Yesterday, directed by Stefon Bristol, written by Stefon Bristol & Fredrica Bailey. Produced by Spike Lee, Jason Sokoloff, Matt Myers. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Narrative. Two Brooklyn teenage prodigies, C.J. Walker and Sebastian Thomas, build make-shift time machines to save C.J.’s brother, Calvin, from being wrongfully killed by a police officer.


Watson, directed by Lesley Chilcott. Producers: Louise Runge, Lesley Chilcott, Wolfgang Knöpfler. . (USA, Costa Rica, Tonga) – World Premiere. Co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson has spent 40 years fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat. Part pirate, part philosopher, Watson’s methods stop at nothing to protect what lies beneath.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘ONLY’ in an emotional gut punch worth waiting for.

ONLY

Will (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Eva (Freida Pinto) seem destined for a storybook life together, so pure and supportive is their mutual love. But their alone time is suddenly interrupted when Eva’s roommate, Carolyn (Tia Hendricks), bursts through the door and collapses as torrents of mysterious ash fall from the sky. During a chaotic trip to the hospital, Will learns what he needs to do, quickly covering Eva in a hazmat suit, then rushing home with her and hermetically sealing the doors and windows. Weeks become months become years and, after Eva makes a desperate move, the couple is forced to run for their lives.

Only is a mysterious, dreamy post-apocalyptic love story told elegantly and in non-sequential order by director Takashi Doscher. Tony Award-winner Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) and Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) play the doomed couple whose fear that their secret will be revealed unveils the layers of pain and longing between them. As Will and Eva struggle to reach a beloved waterfall from their past, the couple attempts to survive in a new world where she is a commodity of unparalleled worth.

While watching Only, I was furiously taking notes because I wanted to remember every little nuance I was experiencing. From the opening scene, the imagery is haunting and a sense of doom and urgency sit in the pit of your stomach. The phenomenally edited film builds its intensity through non-linear storytelling. While it can be a challenge to follow at times, it is an effective way to make sure you are paying full attention. At every turn in the script, I was surprised. Its dark premise will take you down a rabbit hole of needing to find answers. Once the puzzle is solved and all the pieces are in place, your stomach will drop and your soul will weep. The captivating performances from Frieda Pinto and Leslie Odom, Jr. help Only stand apart from Tribeca’s other selections this year. Their chemistry is electrifying. With subtly suggested elements of Handmaids Tale weaved into the narrative, this post-apocalyptic tale has an eerie patriarchal theme that makes it all the more upsetting. Only is easily one of the best of the fest this year.

Remaining screenings:
2:45 PM – SAT 5/4

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: SHORTS: WTF

SHORTS: WTF

These films were curated especially for late-night.

Playing in this program:
Twist

No choice but to walk home alone, Hannah (Helena Howard) sees an opportunity for a ride, but others see an opportunity in her.

With a well-built tension familiar to any young woman, Twist leaves much to the terrifying imagination, making it all the more frightening. Beautiful performances bring fear to life.

Whiteout

When a young couple (Sarah Tihany and David Call) encounters a strange old man (Patrick M. Walsh Jr.) wandering in a snowstorm, they must decide if he needs help, or if he has more sinister intentions.

A real “What would you do?” scenario set in the middle of the road on a snowy night. It begs the question, “Who’s the real monster?”

His Hands

Two men (Arron Blake and Philip Brisebois) of different ages meet for the strangest encounter of their lives.

While I’m not completely sure what was actually happening in this film, I know I was damn uncomfortable as a viewer. Performances are striking and I need to know more.

Momster

When notorious bank robber, the Momster (Amanda Plummer), catches her daughter Angel (Brianna Hildebrand) mid-gunfight, Angel thinks she’s being rescued… until she realizes she has to do the saving.

This short has a Robert Rodriguez/ QuentinTarantino Grindhouse feel with its quippy dialogue, vivid pops of color, and effective narration.

Hunting Season

Callie (Hannah Levien), a small town gas station attendant, has an unexpected encounter which will change the course of her life forever.

This short begins by utilizing the major trope of failing electricity to build up suspense. The sparse dialogue is meaningful enough to create an entire backstory and the perfect amount of dread, culminating in a magical ending no one will see coming.

11:50

In the pouring rain, a junkie (Jerry Chih-Wei Huang) takes the hotel key of a man that his car has accidentally killed. As he walks into the hotel and finds that room, he has to face a mysterious journey that will never have an end.

This cinematic little masterpiece is a proof of concept from heaven. Not only visually delicious but one hell of a reveal that will keep you wanting more.

Snaggletooth

An unusual girl (Jolie Ledford) needs to get her teeth fixed at midnight.

The 50’s era sets, costumes, and lighting lead up to a visual shock that is both scary and delightful.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Shorts Program
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    75 minutes
  • Premiere:
    New York

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Picture Character’ #therealemojimovie

PICTURE CHARACTER

Spotlight Documentary, World Premiere – Directed by Martha Shane and Ian Cheney

As silly as you may think the topic, you can’t deny that emojis are everywhere. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? The story of the creation/inception of emojis is interspersed with three stories of the quest to get new emojis added – hijab emoji, mate and menstruation (blood).

While following these stories, something is revealed that is is far more interesting. Remember when emojis weren’t the same on iOS vs Android? Then, miraculously, they became universal? Welcome to the Unicode Consortium. A non-profit organization that unifies character sets.

Suddenly, there are a lot of questions. The film gives enough information about Unicode without overwhelming the audience and changing the course of the story, but for me, it was such a large elephant in the room that I couldn’t stop wondering about it.

Whether you just send the occasional smiley face or you carry on conversations via emoji, you’ll enjoy seeing the behind the curtain.

List of universal emojis: https://unicode.org/emoji/charts/emoji-list.html

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘For They Know Not What They Do’ and this is the problem

FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO

Documentary Competition, World Premiere – Directed by Daniel Karslake

More maddening than enlighting, For They Know Not What They Do follows four families that facing challenges and did their best. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating and exactly what happens when people are not empathetic with each other.

I liked the structure with switching back and forth between each story, as it made the progression much more interesting. However, it felt at some points that the audience was somehow meant to forgive these people of their ignorance and lack of compassion.

There’s always value in hearing the stories of others, but I left the theater shaking my head rather than feeling like I learned something.

When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality across the nation in 2015, many assumed that the fight for LGBTQ rights was won. But politicians and religious conservatives launched a state-by-state campaign to retract the human rights of America’s LGBTQ citizens under the guise of religious freedom. Introducing four American families caught in the crosshairs of scripture, sexuality, and identity, this documentary weaves together clips from the national news and the church pulpit, alongside family photos and intimate testimonies to show the undeniable connection between the personal and the political.

These individual experiences of rejection and validation, tragedy and triumph include Ryan Robertson, who was encouraged by his Christian family to attend conversion therapy; Sarah McBride, the transgender student body president who went on to work at the White House; Vico Báez Febo, whose Catholic grandmother locked him out of the house when a neighbor outed him; and Elliot Porcher, a young trans man who endured self-harm before his parents’ acceptance enabled him to come to terms with his gender. An emotionally impactful follow-up to the award-winning For The Bible Tells Me So, this powerful examination of the intersection of religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity offers much-needed healing, clarity, and understanding.

—Lucy Mukerjee

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘RECORDER: The Marion Stokes Project’ – how one woman gave us 33 years of recorded television history

RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT

Documentary Competition – World Premiere, Directed by Matt Wolf

In 1979 during the Iranian hostage crisis, Marion Stokes started recording the news on VHS tapes on different channels on different televisions. 24 hours a day. The recording didn’t stop for 33 years when she passed away on December 12, 2012, the day of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The film is structured chronologically and I would have liked to have seen Marion Stokes’ story told in the juxtaposition of the process to digitize the over 70,000 VHS tapes. They used the closed captioning to index! How cool is that? I want to know more. Instead, the story unfolds in a traditional method of speaking with those closest to her and focusing on the woman behind this astounding asset to humanity. It’s good, but not nearly as compelling.

Even with its flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it’s sparked many interesting conversations.

There’s 1 more screening left and it’s also coming to other film festivals.

Tribeca Film Festival
World Premiere
April 25, 26, 27, May 4

HotDocs, Toronto
International Premiere
May 1, 2, 5

Montclair Film Festival
May 8, 12

Maryland Film Festival
May 9, 10

More Screenings Soon

Long before our current era of “fake news,” Marion Stokes was amassing an incredible archive in an effort to protect and tell the truth. Beginning with the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979 and ending in 2012 with the massacre at Sandy Hook, Stokes archived and preserved the television that others were not. She recorded an incredible 70,000 VHS tapes capturing wars, triumphs, catastrophes, and more. The archive reveals the past and how it shaped television and the present moment.

Matt Wolf goes deep inside this captured history of television, providing insight into Stokes as keeper of the archive, while also showing the world that she wanted humanity to see. Taking on the aura of a mystery, Recorder delves into the curious world of a Communist radical and genius recluse who dedicated her life to a seemingly crazy mission, which in the end, is a glorious gift to the world.

—Deborah Rudolph