Bentonville Film Festival 2022 short review: ‘Honey and Clover: A Recipe For Disaster’

HONEY AND CLOVER


SYNOPSIS
Honey and Clover are former child stars from the hit show Rink Inc. where they played crime-fighting sisters whose parents owned a roller-skating rink. Past and future collide threatening to reveal their darkest secrets when the two are thrust back into the spotlight together after years of estrangement. They are forced to accept that the only way they can survive is together. Their timely reconnection teaches them to cope with their new lives while coming to terms with the shocking past that tore them apart in this deeply empathetic and magical portrayal of friendship.


A solid proof of concept short, I found myself wanting more information on both the leads and their manager Max, played spectacularly by actor Ray Abruzzo. I want to know who else this guy represents. Give me an entire BoJack Horseman style section in a series of all his clients. Our leading ladies, Theresa Burkhart Gallagher and Jackie Monahan engaging and complex. The short ramps up about 10 minutes in with a fun action scene mirroring their heyday skills. This was badass. The information we’re missing from their youth and everything in between feels pretty pertinent to the present-day chaos. I was genuinely interested. I’d love to see how Rink Inc. came to fruition, from the girls meeting as teens, cut back and forth their success, and their ultimate fallout. I’m assuming that’s the goal with this short. In its current form, Honey and Clover expertly bate the hook. Get me a pair of skates, I’m ready to roll.

Director:                                 Andrea Maxwell
Writers:                                   Matthew Gallagher, Theresa Burkhart Gallagher, Jackie Monahan
Producers:                             Matthew Gallagher, Theresa Burkhart Gallagher, Andrea Maxwell,
Jackie Monahan, Diana Zollicoffer
Executive Producers:            Emily De Margheriti, Benjamin Sharpe, Greg Tally
Editor:                                     Andrea Maxwell
Cinematographer:                 Sherri Kauk                          
Music:                                     Allyson Newman
Cast:                                       Theresa Burkhart Gallagher, Jackie Monahan, Ray Abruzzo, Dan Lauria,
David Barrera
TRT:                                        14:36 min
Country:                                 USA


Screening information:
Thursday, June 23 at 3:00PM
Awkward At Any Age (Competition Shorts)
Walmart World Room (105 North Main Street)

Ticketing information:
https://www.goelevent.com/BFF/e/AwkwardAtAnyAgeCompetitionShorts

Short films in our competition lineup telling stories at key moments of personal growth from childhood to adulthood and beyond. This program includes THE WEIGHT OF IT (Directed by Olivia Marie Valdez, Einar Soler Fernandez, Sandra Afonso Rodriguez), LOVE’S BABY SOFT (Directed by Lanie Zipoy), AMERIGIRL (Directed by Samina Saifee), ANNIVERSARY (Directed by Lain Kienzle), SEASICK (Directed by Lindsey Ryan), WEI-LAI (Directed by Robin Wang), HOPEFUL ROMANTIC (Directed by Kate Vinen) and HONEY AND CLOVER: A RECIPE FOR DISASTER (Directed by Andrea Maxwell).


Tribeca Film Festival 2022 capsule reviews: ‘January,’ ‘The Year Between,’ and short film ‘Girls Night In’

January

The visual aesthetic of Tribeca 2022 film JANUARY feels like it was actually filmed in 1991, using a mixture of super 8 footage, archival footage, and inspired cinematography. Performances are solid. The soundtrack is outstanding, highlighting gorgeous framing. The lack of urgency overall was challenging to overcome. I wasn’t sure if I felt connected enough to give a damn. This is from an arts academy grad. It was refreshing to see young female ambition in the character of Anna.

At the 52-minute mark, I was suddenly at attention. I wish this had come sooner in both the narrative and the score. Ultimately, January keeps your attention with its unique editing and intriguing, sometimes dizzying, cinematography. At times, I could not decern who was filming, whether it was archival or handheld footage from the cast. It’s a weirdly meta experience in that way. JANUARY is a coming-of-age story of a life torn between art and war.


The Year Between

Alex Heller wears all the hats in Tribeca 2022 film The Year Between. As a writer, director, producer, and star, she’s a spectacular nightmare. As Clemence, she is perfectly punchable. Even if it doesn’t sound like it, this is a compliment. As Clemence, she is a hellacious person. An entitled brat with zero social graces. Come to find out that she is undiagnosed bipolar. Through horrible life choices, Clemence slowly climbs her way out of her pity party to ingratiate herself into her family’s hearts. Navigating jobs, drugs, therapy, medication, relationships, and self-actualization, The Year Between goes hard in every aspect. Heller is unapologetic in style. The voice is loud and clear, and I look forward to what comes next.


Girls Night In

When a masked man threatens to ruin a girls’ night, Becca and Delaney attempt to best the intruder against all logic. This satirical short is an ode to the Bechdel Test and horror fans everywhere. Skylan Benton, as Delaney, is dressed similarly to Drew Barrymore in Scream and has an unmissable Alexis from Schitt’s Creek vibe going on in her tone. Becca (Jess Adams) is the more overtly cautious of the two girls, but everything changes, including her wardrobe, once challenged. Spot the cliché and hilarious quick-change by removing her glasses, a classic 90s reference. This is another example of how writer Landon LaRue and director Alison Roberto are true genre fans, beyond the lighting shifts and Davey Oberlin‘s throwback score. The addition of unapologetic Gen Z chatter infuses another layer of funny. Girls Night In will be a hit with not only horror fans but all Tribeca 2022 short film enthusiasts this year. 


 

SXSW 2022 is coming. Here are some films to add to your watch list in this year’s hybrid festival.

It’s here and boy is it happening. This year’s hybrid edition of SXSW 2022 has it all. Here are a handful of films we’re excited about this year.


Linoleum

When a satellite falls from orbit and crashes into the home of a dysfunctional family in suburban Ohio, the father seizes the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by re-creating the machine as his own rocket ship. While his wife and daughter believe he is experiencing a midlife crisis, surreal events begin to unfold around him, forcing him to reconsider how interconnected their lives truly are…

We’ve been living through hell these past few years and could all use a bit of whimsy. Linoleum provides us the opportunity to reconnect with our inner child while simultaneously dissecting the family dynamics. Plus, I think a lot of people forget how incredibly talented Jim Gaffigan is as an actor. Look out for this one.


The Cellar

A woman must confront an ancient and powerful entity after her daughter mysteriously vanishes in the cellar of their new home.

Shudder has already picked this title up before its SXSW22 premiere. Becoming the best streaming platform for all things genre-related, when they see potential in a film they snap it up ASAP. An old mansion, a new family, a disappearance, The Cellar has my attention.


DIAMOND HANDS: THE LEGEND OF WALLSTREETBETS

It was the perfect storm. A global pandemic. An app aspiring to democratize trading. A group of Reddit users stuck at home with stimulus dollars to burn. And a video game company on its last legs. DIAMOND HANDS is the incredible true story of how an army of retail traders rallied around GameStop to rock our financial system. This is the legend of r/WallStreetBets.

Everyone watched in awe and confusion as GameStop stock began to skyrocket. The fallout was disastrous, but the idea that a bunch of dudes on Reddit were able to completely disrupt the market is pretty much my favorite (anti)capitalist giggle from 2020.

MSNBC Films and NBC News Studios will premiere “Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets,” on MSNBC Sunday, April 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET, following the global premiere at SXSW on March 13. “Diamond Hands” is produced by NBC News Studios and ZCDC Films. The film is set to stream later this Spring on Peacock. 


Hypochondriac

A young potter’s life devolves into chaos as he loses function of his body while being haunted by the physical manifestation of his childhood trauma.

If you’re looking for some kick-ass casting, look no further than Zach Villa in Hypochondriac. Unrecognizable from his American Horror Story seasons, Villa plays the writer-director Addison Heimann‘s words with care. The film is based on Heiman’s own experience with mental health.


The Cow

Synopsis: Upon arriving at a remote cabin in the redwoods, Kath and her boyfriend find a mysterious younger couple already there — the rental has apparently been double-booked. With nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers until the next morning. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup— but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.

If you go to IMDB the plot for the film is still under wraps, so SXSW22 fans are in for a treat. I’ve always been a Winona Ryder fan and with Stranger Things revamping her genre status, I cannot wait to see what is in store in this mysterious-sounding plot.


Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

Mickey Mouse is one of the most enduring symbols in our history. Those three simple circles take on meaning for virtually everyone on the planet. So ubiquitous in our lives that he can seem invisible, Mickey is something we all share, with unique memories and feelings. Over the course of his nearly century-long history, Mickey functions like a mirror, reflecting our personal and cultural values back at us. “Mickey: The Story of a Mouse” explores Mickey’s significance, getting to the core of what Mickey’s cultural impact says about each of us and about our world.

When I was 19 years old, I moved to California on a whim in hopes of working at Disneyland. During my amazing time performing there (those details are top secret via the stack of NDA’s you sign as a cast member), I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting a special individual. When Walt Disney opened Disneyland he presented the world with Mickey Mouse, live and in person. I met that man backstage and had my photo taken with him. The impact Mickey Mouse has had on generations of children and adults is unfathomable. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse will undoubtedly touch a massive audience. As I share Mickey with my own small children now, I can still picture my first meeting with a character so magical I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. He never gets old, pun most definitely intended.


The Prank

Synopsis: Ben is your typical high-school overachiever. He’s organized, careful, goal-oriented and extremely dedicated to school. His best friend, Tanner, couldn’t be more opposite. She is a lackadaisical, messy, slacker, who lives in the moment. They aren’t popular, but they don’t seem to care that much because they have each other. Ben has a stern, mean and cruel physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler. She has been teaching at the school for decades and has a reputation for being the hardest, coldest, strictest faculty member. She fails Ben’s entire class unless a student who cheated comes forward. When no one does, Tanner and Ben hatch a plan to ruin he life and frame her for murder on social media.

Social media is such a catalyst for action, terror, and weirdness these days that anything is possible when it is involved. But, it’s this cast that caught my eye. Rita Moreno, Connor Kalopsis, Ramona Young, Keith David, Kate Flannery, and Meredith Salenger will get my butt in a seat. Also, who didn’t have a teacher in high school everyone loathed?


The Unknown Country

An unexpected invitation launches a grieving young woman on a solitary road trip through the American Midwest as she struggles to reconcile the losses of her past with the dreams of her future.

I was first introduced to Lily Gladstone in Certain Women. Her ability to captivate with but a glance is something that is rare. The Unknown Country tackles a beautiful mix of anxiety, grief, and identity, all in a unique road trip movie. It’s a film we’ll be talking about all year.


Sissy

**WORLD PREMIERE**

WRITERS/DIRECTORS: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes
STARRING: Aisha Dee, Hannah Barlow, Emily De Margheriti, Daniel Monks, Yerin Ha, Lucy Barrett, Shaun Martindale, Amelia Lule, April Blasdall, Camille Cumpston

Synopsis: Cecilia and Emma were tween-age BFFs who were going to grow old together and never let anything come between them, until Alex arrived on the scene. Twelve years later, Cecilia is a successful social media influencer living the dream of an independent, modern millennial woman… until she runs into Emma for the first time in over a decade. Emma invites Cecilia away on her bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains, where Alex proceeds to make Cecilia’s weekend a living hell. #triggered

Listen, girls are mean. We hold grudges and we play dirty, those are just the facts. When friendships are disrupted, those scars last a lifetime. With social media affecting the way we lead our daily lives, SISSY sounds like a perfect storm for great horror.


SOFT & QUIET

Playing out in real time, Soft and Quiet is a runaway train that follows a single afternoon in the life of a female white supremacist as she indoctrinates a group of alt-right women, and together they set out to harass two mixed-raced sisters.

Any film that has the audacity to play out in real time has my attention. I am hardwired to loathe these main characters so I am hoping that some horrible fate befalls them. The plot is socially relevant even if I wish it weren’t. I’ll be paying close attention to how writer-director Beth de Araújo brings her first feature-length film to life.


Radical Honesty

At the tail end of a great date, Jack and Rachel bond over a shared interest in deconstructing traditional relationship structures. When Jack reveals the reality of his “radical” open relationship, things take a turn for the absurd in this short film about the co-option of the language of liberation for means of manipulation and control.

At 41, I cannot imagine navigating a new relationship at this precise moment in time. I remember when Match.com first became a thing and how weird I thought it sounded. Then I recall attending four weddings in the years that followed, each couple had met through Match. RADICAL HONESTY, a 7-minute short film, tackles the complexities that Gen Z and Millenials face day-to-day. I’ll be watching with popcorn in hand knowing that it’s one hell I don’t have to keep in check these days. (*knock on wood) Check out the teaser trailer for the film’s aesthetic.

Radical Honesty Teaser from Bianca Poletti on Vimeo.


Slash/Back

Synopsis: Pangnirtung, Nunavut: A sleepy hamlet nestled in the majestic mountains of Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean, wakes up to a typical summer day. No School, no cool boys (well… except one), and 24-hour sunlight. But for Maika and her ragtag friends, the usual summer is suddenly not in the cards when they discover an alien invasion threatening Pang. But these teenagers have been underestimated their whole lives, and using makeshift weapons and their horror movie knowledge, they show the aliens you don’t fuck with the girls from Pang.

Slash/Back is an unexpected coming-of-age film. With some Stranger Things vibes, it tackles tradition, boredom, boys, and aliens. Wait until you see this young cast kicking ass and taking names.


Pirates

New Year’s Eve 1999. Three life long friends drive through London in their tiny Peugeot 205, pumping a UK Garage set from the stereo and arguing about their Avirex jackets and Naf Naf imports. As the eighteen-year olds step into adulthood, they know their lives and friendships are on the brink of change. Determined to end the century on a bang, they drive from place to place in a desperate search for tickets for the best millennium party EVER. In their efforts to end up somewhere, they end up closer together.

I know I’m aging myself but I was 19 on New Year’s Eve 1999. I lived this chaos and hopefulness. Anything was possible during the course of one evening. I’m here for the nostalgia and some solid shenanigans.


Jethica

Hiding out in New Mexico after a freak accident, Elena runs into Jessica, an old friend from high school. When Jessica’s stalker suddenly shows up at their door, they must seek help from beyond the grave to get rid of him, for good.

Wild and collaborative filmmaker, Pete Ohs brings an exciting edge to the indie scene with Jethica. Shot during the pandemic in 2021 and edited live on Twitch, SXSW22 audiences are surely in for some unexpected twists and turns.


The Voice Actress

Kingyo, a veteran voice actress working in Tokyo, possesses a unique ability to see the soul in all things, living and inanimate. The voice acting world is changing and she must find a way to reconcile her way of living with the modern industry. As Kingyo prepares for an upcoming audition, she seeks inspiration from the world around her and from her pet goldfish, Asatte. In the face of professional and personal adversity, Kingyo looks decidedly inward for strength through empathy and kindness.

A peek inside the recording booth and inside the mind of a working voice actress. Urara Takano puts a face to the performers we don’t talk enough about. Written, directed, and edited by Anna J. Takayama, we are invited into the world of a veteran voice actress and how she copes with forces beyond her control.


For more information on this year’s SXSW Film Festival click here!

Stayed tuned for Reel News Daily coverage as well as guest posts from Steve Kopian at Unseen Films. We’re making our schedules and doing all we can to bring you everything we’ve got. Stayed tuned!


Sundance (2022) short film review: ‘Warsha’ is pure cinematic joy.

WARSHA

Warsha follows Mohammad, a Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut. One morning he volunteers to take on one of the tallest and notoriously most dangerous cranes in Lebanon. Away from everyone’s eyes, he is able to live out his secret passion and find freedom.


Circumstance drowning out his authenticity, Mohammad takes a risk at his construction job in the short film Warsha. Handheld and tight cinematography force the viewer into the vibrating chaos. But it’s the wide shots that astound in their scale and shared panic and awe. You will not see where this short is going.

Khansa plays Mohammad with a captivating vulnerability. Warsha introduces the entire world to Khansa, a multi-disciplinary artist redefining masculinity in the Middle East. I had chills watching his transformation. What brilliant casting. Writer-director Dania Bdeir has given Sundance audiences a short film that defies gender stereotypes. Its celebratory nature will leave you breathless.


To find out more information on Sundance 2022, including screening times, click here!


Dances With Films LA 2021 review: Brooke Trantor’s short film ‘Oh, Baby!’ really nails impending motherhood.

OH, BABY!

Oh Baby! a comedic narrative short done by Brooke Trantor and Kate Morgan Chadwick, and T.J. Linnard (Good Trouble) that follows Jane: a thirty-something pregnant woman having a baby on her own. Empowered, single, and horny AF she is determined to get what she wants tonight: sex, chalupas, and no strings attached. Enter Ben, a promising find from the world of online dating – will he be able to deliver the goods…and then some?


This hilariously honest short film about love, sex, and impending motherhood is ripe for development. Having been pregnant twice, I understand how uncomfortable it can be. The cravings, both food and otherwise, can dictate every aspect of your day. What little control you have over your own time is about to run out permanently. Director Brooke Trantor co-writes the script with lead actress Kate Morgan Chadwick. Trantor understands how important the camera becomes as the intimate moments begin. Jack Lawrence Mayer‘s editing is just as important here. Trantor and Chadwick easily capture the humor and anxiety that come along with dating, in general. Heightening that concept with impending childbirth gives Oh, Baby! a modern twist. Kate Morgan Chadwick and T.J. Linnard have impeccable chemistry. I was completely enamored by them as the credits rolled. Charming and relatable, they are the perfect pair. I would love to see this story expanded into a feature. Dances With Films LA 2021 audiences will undoubtedly adore it, as well.



Dances With Films LA 2021 audiences can see Oh, Baby! September 4, 2021, at 1:30 PM

2021 Dances with Film review: Love, religion, and identity collide in ‘OVER MY DEAD BODY’.

OVER MY DEAD BODY

 
Synopsis:

Isfahan, a Persian-Jewish woman in Los Angeles, is considered, at thirty-one, to be well past marrying age. So her conservative parents are relieved when she announces her engagement to her younger boyfriend, Kambiz. Until they learn he is Muslim. Her father immediately vetoes the marriage, her mother calls the siblings over, and Kambiz gets kicked out of the house. The situation escalates into an all-out confrontation between Isfahan and her family. As she defends her love, the family defends their traditions, demanding that she honor their religion and old-world values. This intergenerational struggle forces Isfahan to make a decision that will define the rest of her life.


At an impasse of religion and love, the title of this thought-provoking short film suggests that it’s a horror film. While not touted as such, what unfolds in 25 minutes between family members is absolutely horrific. To fully appreciate the nuance in Over My Dead Body takes an open mind. Often, we place ourselves in the shoes of the characters on screen. Here, depending on your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), the complexities are unsurpassed. Having religion forced upon me as a child backfired at the age of about 14. In a world filled with volatility caused by media corporations, conflicting gods, and traditions, Over My Dead Body hits harder in modern times. Our families are supposed to love us unconditionally. What happens when that isn’t true? The cinematography is smart and takes advantage of the lush sets and costumes. Performances from this true ensemble cast are magnetic. You know this family. It resembles your own in more ways than you might realize at first watch. With an ending that will leave you breathless, the impact of this short should echo loudly.


Meital Cohen Navarro’s OVER MY DEAD BODY, a devastating short film
about a family at war over love versus religious tradition
screens in competition at 2021 Dances with Films

Screening Information:
WHERE:                       TCL Chinese 6 Theatres (6801 Hollywood Blvd.)
WHEN:                         Saturday, August 28 at 1:30 PM


 

SXSW 2021 reviews: ‘Stuffed’, ‘Don’t Peek’, ‘The Moogai’ are all chilling and unique shorts.

STUFFED

A musical film about a taxidermist who dreams of stuffing a human and a man she meets online so afraid of ageing he volunteers to be her specimen. An unexpected romantic spark between them complicates their plans.

Honestly, you had me at the categories “Musical, Horror”. This is the perfect short for genre fans who are clamoring to get back into theatres of all kinds. The score is wonderfully quirky. It will strike a chord with Sondheim fans. It’s is very Sweeney Todd inspired in sound and darkness. Written by Joss Holden-Rea and Theo Rhys, directed by Rhys, and music and lyrics by Holden-Rea, these two make one hell of a creative team. (I’m begging for a feature-length version of this story) Actors Anthony Young and Alison Fitzjohn have gorgeous voices. Their ability to connect with one another and the audience is a thing of beauty. The cinematography is carefully curated. The practical FX are outstanding. STUFFED is a unique experience you do not want to miss out on. This is the magic that audiences of SXSW salivate over.


DON’T PEAK

A young woman discovers a frightening video game character intent on crossing into the real world.

It’s rare that I jump and feel the need to cover my eyes these days while watching horror. I’ve consumed so much I can usually predict what’s eventually going to happen. In this hair-raising short, a game of Animal Crossing becomes a nightmare when an invited entity crosses from gameplay to real life. I found my heart in my throat. To be that successful in terrifying me in under 7 minutes, I say, “Bravo, writer-director Julian Terry. You got me.”


THE MOOGAI

An Aboriginal psychological horror, THE MOOGAI is the story of a family terrorized by a child-stealing spirit.

Whether a literal interpretation of an actual demon or not, so many theories swirled in my mind as I sweat through my t-shirt watching this short film. This feels like an intense form of gaslighting. Or maybe it’s a product of sleep deprivation. Perhaps it’s Postpartum? The terror is seen and unseen and in this short, the performances take you to the darkest parts of your mind. As a parent, it’s beyond unsettling.

 

Sundance 2021 review: ‘Doublespeak’ portrays the very real downside of reporting sexual harassment.

Doublespeak

A young woman grapples with the aftermath of reporting sexual harassment
in the workplace.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Watching this short physically hurt my soul. Having been in this exact scenario I understand the stress this story produces. The need to apologize, the need to reassure loved ones of our mental state, the gaslighting from co-workers, it’s all there in this 9-minute film. Angela Wong Carbone nails the anxiety of a never-ending cycle of patriarchal oppression. You can feel it all emanating off of her. The meaningful closeups and partially off-kilter shots put you inside Emma’s mindset of having to reiterate the circumstances of her complaint. This is often why women don’t come forward with reports. The trauma of reliving incidents is not fun. Writer/director Hazel McKibbin has given a voice to too many. It’s an incredibly effective short. It speaks volumes.
___________________________________________________________
Section: Shorts Program 4
Director: Hazel McKibbin
Screenwriter: Hazel McKibbin
Cast: Angela Wong Carbone, Tony Costa, Tricia Merrick,
Ken Driesslein, Frank Lewallen, Reece Ennis
Producers: Stephanie Fine
Cinematography: Allison Anderson
Editors: Jordan Anstatt, Hazel McKibbin
Country: United States Run Time: 10 minutes
________________________________________________________
**2021 Sundance Film Festival: Shorts Program**
**Vimeo: Best of the Month Staff Pick**
**Short of the Week: Official Premiere**

Review: ‘DAVID’ is hilariously layered.

DAVID

David needs help. So does David.

If you tell me Will Ferrell is in it, I’ll watch it. If you say it also stars William Jackson Harper, umm, yeah I’m there. I’ve seen Ferrell in a few roles that require him to play the straight man. Stranger Than Fiction, Everything Must Go, and Winter Passing being the closest. Here he is tasked with portraying a therapist to a suicidal patient played by Harper. The two exchange incredibly powerful (if not brief) back and forth before they are interrupted by someone else in Ferrell’s life. Bursting into the session and causing nothing but chaos, three people trapped in a room against, perhaps, their better judgment, are simply trying to navigate boundaries and the consequences of crossing them. Harper is exactly what we need him to be here. He’s always solid with an ability to connect with a viewer. Ferrell is exceptional. He is charming and helpful and honest. The surprise performance comes from Fred Hechinger. His manic energy bursts off the screen and really wreaks physical and emotional havoc. It’s fantastic. The awkward dynamic writer/director Zach Woods places us in the middle of is comedy gold. But underneath is an honest message of love. This short will surprise you with its charm.

Cannes Film Festival – Short Film Competition 2020
Toronto International Film Festival – Official Competition 2020

USA / 2020 / 11 / Fiction

CAST
Therapist – Will Ferrell
David – William Jackson Harper
David – Fred Hechinger
Andy Doan – Corey Jantzen
Referee – Sebastian Vale

CREW
Director – Zach Woods
Screenplay – Brandon Gardner & Zach Woods
Production – Freestyle Picture Company, Ways & Means
Producers – Kevin Chinoy & Francesca Silvestri, Zach Woods, Andrew Porter
Cinematography – Andre Lascaris
Editing – Nick Paley

Review: ‘Stormchaser’ is electric with potential.

All Bonnie Blue ever wanted was to chase tornadoes with her Dad. But dreams die with time. Now, she’s become a different kind of storm chaser, hawking storm doors “door-to-door” for her charismatic boss, Flip Smyth: a cultish father figure who preaches Disaster Capitalism to Bonnie and his tribe of sales guys. As she realizes that Flip’s doctrine of “Flip the Switch!” is just a way to exploit customers, a different kind of switch flips inside Bonnie — unleashing an inner and outer storm of violence.

Breathtaking cinematography combined with Mary Birdsong‘s performance makes Stormchaser an awesome first episode into the world of Bonnie Blue. It was not what I was expecting at all. The toxic masculinity that she must battle is all too familiar but also genuinely hilarious. What fully transpires next is a little up to the interpretation of the viewer. Bonnie takes back her power and perhaps harnesses a bit from an incoming tornado. The potential here is massive. Writer/director Gretl Claggett has left this story with enough intrigue to go in any direction she wants. You can see why it’s won awards during its festival run. With an episodic series in the works, Stormchaser will easily blow you away.

Stormchaser writer/director Gretl Claggett

Gretl is currently developing STORMCHASER into an episodic anthology series, while writing/developing two other female-forward shows/films that also grapple with socio-political issues in entertaining, surprising ways.

Louisiana Film Prize 2020 winner: ‘Untitled Post-Baby Project’ is #MomLife101

The 2020 Louisiana Film Prize announces Lorna Street Dopson’s UNTITLED POST-BABY PROJECT as the winner of the $25,000 Grand Prize

A young woman struggles with postpartum depression while trying to adjust to motherhood.

Motherhood. How does one explain the one thing in a woman’s life that allows for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows? There is no manual for raising a human being. Sure, there are innumerable books written on the subject and you’re never short on those wanting to give you unsolicited advice, but until you’re in the thick of it, it is unexplainable. How can you feel an unfathomable amount of love for a person you barely know? Lorna Street Dopson‘s award-winning short film Untitled Post-Baby Project gives the viewer a tiny glimpse into the mind of a Mom. From feelings of inadequacy, elation, anger, frustration, the loss of any sense of self, not to mention the physical transformation. No one tells you how hard motherhood can be, sometimes minute to minute. While Dopson’s on-screen husband Jeremy Sande was one of the most supportive men I’ve seen, I fear some partners may be unable to grasp how to support a mom, especially a new one. The first year is a whirlwind. The editing of the film is actually a perfect metaphor for the inconsistency of feelings that surround everything from lack of sleep, breastfeeding, milestones, personal care, postpartum depression, the list goes on and on. One of the most poignant is the concept of “mom-shaming”, as social media often traffics in the idea of being the “Perfect Mom”. We all know that behind the smiles and baked goods on Instagram, are Moms screaming at kids to “Smile!” or “Don’t touch, I’ll do it!” We’re not doing each other any favors.

As a 40-year-old mother of a 3 and 4-year-old (yes, they’re 15 months apart), this film hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to correct myself while watching. I thought, “Is she really looking at her image and thinking she’s fat?! Are you freaking kidding me?!” Then I stopped and remembered that my own OBGYN shamed me for fitting back into my pre-baby clothes at my 6-week postpartum appointment. And yet, almost 5 years later I STILL hate how my body has changed since then. Untitled Post-Baby Project reminded me to take a step back. Someone who considers herself a “motherhood is tough as hell and you don’t have to pretend to be great at it because we’re all just trying to survive” advocate. I plan on making t-shirts soon. I only recently learned that Postpartum Anxiety is a thing! Mom Guilt is definitely a thing. It’s not all negative, certainly not. Never do you feel more excited than when your child achieves something new or smiles at you. The quiet moments when a baby sleeps in your arms is glorious. It’s all in there. Every last bit of emotion. Lorna Street Dopson has taken a fearless and honest approach to storytelling. It’s an important little film worthy of a big audience.

Produced by Lorna Street Dopson, Jimi Covert, Isaac Fenter
Cinematography by Jimi Covert
Edited by Stephen Bertucci, Lorna Street Dopson
Music by Jacob McSharma
Starring Lorna Street Dopson, Jeremy Sande

Harlem International Film Festival 2020 review: short film ‘Generation Lockdown’ will break you

GENERATION LOCKDOWN is a narrative short film, seen through the eyes of an eleven year old boy as he tries to save his friend’s life during an active shooter attack in his school.

This film is based on a short story by Caleb, a 6th grader from a public school in Teaneck, NJ.

If you aren’t crying by 6 minutes in, perhaps you’ve become numb to the reality of so many kids and parents. I was a senior in high school when Columbine happened. I watched it live while on spring break with my family. Two weeks later, I was in a lockdown of my own in the cafeteria of my own school, unknowing that it was only a drill. Now, I am the mother of two young children. In the first year of school for my son, we received an email explaining that they would be doing a school shooter drill. He was 2 at the time. I can remember the terror I felt at 18. I could not have imagined my children, now 3 and 4, having to run these drills regularly, 22 years later.

The film itself is stunning. The look is bright and relatable to a child’s perspective. As a former teacher, it had a familiarity to it that a lot of films centering around children do not. The morning after I viewed the film, I’m still emotionally drained but feel an inherent need to speak about it. The climax is poignant both in storytelling and in visual impact. The editing is like a punch in the gut. I was not expecting it. For a short film, Generation Lockdown makes a massive impact. It’s something that deserves a primetime viewing slot for its artistic and political effectiveness. This short serves as not just a conversation starter, but a continuation for a movement. Seek it out.

Fantasia 2020 review: Short film’ You Wouldn’t Understand’ is aptly named.

YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND

An idyllic picnic of one is upended after the arrival of a stranger.

9 minutes of sci-fi absurdity is what I Iive for during Fantasia International Film Festival. You Wouldn’t Understand no matter how hard you try. Impeccably shot and hilariously acted, the only thing wrong with it is that it ends! And that is entirely the point. This is one of the best treatments for an entire series I’ve ever seen, even if that was never the intention. I would watch the hundreds of other iterations of the same story with absolute giddiness. I knew it owned me when I exclaimed, “What the hell?” halfway through. I was as completely weirded out as I was confused… but also had a stupid grin on my face that wasn’t going anywhere even after the credits rolled. Then I watched it again. I cannot stop talking about this film which is also ironic seeing as how I don’t want to give too much away to an audience. Because YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND.

The film is a true collaboration. Director Trish Harnetiaux, also co-wrote the script with actor Jacob A. Ware, while co-star Anthony Arkin edited the short. No surprise the three formed the production company Steel Drum In Space. Which is a hilarious moniker of its own… for obvious scientific reasons. If Monty Python gets your goat, if great writing is your jam, if superb cinematography gets your engine revved, then You Wouldn’t Understand will make complete sense as a viewing experience.

WORLD PREMIERES AT
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YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND

Color
English Language
9 minutes
Not Rated

For more information on the film and to find out about Fantasia 2020 click HERE

Review: ‘If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth’ is a short film every parent needs to watch.

If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth

Adapted from The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts column
Featuring narration by Jon Hamm

 

If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth is a short film adapted from the hilarious and heartwarming humor essay written by Toronto-based comedian Sophie Kohn (CBC Comedy), which was featured in The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts column in June, 2018. It features a monologue from a man who appears first as a stereotypical, overprotective patriarchal figure, but through clever turn of phrase, is quickly revealed to be a progressive, boundary-respecting father of a teenage daughter named Raina.

As someone who was forbidden to date until the age of 16 (which turned into me being too terrified to defy my strict Catholic parents), I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 18 years old. My Parents are amazing. I’m very lucky and I know it. While I always felt comfortable as a young girl discussing crushes, into the teen years, I was no different than my peers in keeping secrets and feelings to myself. In hindsight, that fear and lack of open communication ultimately led me to have zero understanding of who I was in a romantic relationship dynamic and what I deserved. This forward-thinking short film melted my heart with its honest humor. As a 40-year-old Mom (yes, I just wrote that) with a three-year-old daughter, I immediately sent this to my husband and explained how this would have been incredible to experience as a young woman. I am hoping he studies up on this very smart, modern take on parenting, especially girls. Body autonomy is absolutely key to a healthy mental state, not to mention a great parent/child relationship. In 3 minutes and 18 seconds, it manages to capture the raw emotion of being a parent and attempting to protect your offspring. Its message is important without being overly preachy. With its sharp humor, quick cuts, and its genius delivery by Jon Hamm, If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth is pure delight. We can all afford to learn and grow and as parents. Aren’t we all determined to do better this time around?

Shot in Montclair, New Jersey, the short film features voiceover narration from actor Jon Hamm, alongside performances from lead actors David Afflick (Father), Alani Waters (Raina), and James Denzer (Jaxsen). New Jersey-based production company Brave Makers produced the short, led by a team including company founder and executive producer Justin Ross (Girls Leadership #MyVoiceMyPower), and director, producer, and Austin-based comedian Meghan Ross (An Uncomfortable Woman), who also moonlights as Justin’s sister.