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
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**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
FantasiaYellow_Transparent.png

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.