Film Review: HELLMINGTON (Canada 2017) ***

Hellmington Poster
A detective investigates her father’s dying words; the name of a girl who has been missing for 9 years.

HELLMINGTON is a suspense thriller written and directed by Justin Hewitt-Drakulic and Alex Lee Williams.  HELLMINGTON is the name of the school where the trouble in the story begins.

The film opens wth a burning house, an image that is revisited several times in the film – likely for the reason that it is the most expensive set-piece and also for the reason that it has something important to do with the mystery shrouded in the story.  There is also an image of a little girl in a photograph.  As the film progresses, more and more incidents are built into the story.  There is a cult with the cult’s symbol (a rather silly looking asymmetric one) that keeps appearing, the disappearance of a teen girl, the various suspects, the prison guards and the main protagonist, Sam who returns to her home town to re-open old wounds.

The basic plot involves a detective, Samantha Woodhouse (Nicola Correia-Drakulicinvestigates her father’s dying words; the name of a girl who has been missing for 9 years.  Sam is called to the town and informed of the father’s death by her uncle (Micahel Ironside, the only recognizable name in the cast), who is the brother of her father, both of whom worked as prison guards.  The uncle appears to be a dirty old man from his actions, with Sam insisting she stays at a motel instead of his house.  The motel’s receptionist is hilarious, injecting thinly humour in this mostly serious film.  The girl missing has disappeared after what looks like a prom party in which the last person seen with her was her date.  Sam questions the date, who is seen suddenly running away, freaking out.  The film has many well staged build-ups.  Besides the one just mentioned, there is the one with Sam in a motel room when the occult sign suddenly appears on the wall, among others.  Suspense is enhanced by the soundtrack within with thumping (on walls) or the loud sound of the heart beating.

Apparently there is more than meets the eye, as Sam turns up somehow connected with the girl’s disappearance.

All the incidents are eventually neatly tied together in a well constructed mystery thriller that occasionally feels like a horror film.  The film is shot in North Bay, Ontario where there are plentiful shot of the wood and country.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRY2BYysN38

Film Review: FAUSTO (Canada/Mexico 2018)

Fausto Poster
On the Oaxacan coast of Mexico, rumblings of previous times are never far from the surface. Tales of shapeshifting, telepathy and dealings with the Devil are embedded in the colonization …See full summary »

Director:

Andrea Bussmann

There are two types of filmgoers.  The minority group are the ones that are more open to different types of films that include experimental films.  A few years back I was at the Tate Modern in London with my friend, British director Simon Rumley (one of the 26 directors of THE ABC’S OF DEATH PART 2; THE LIVING AND THE DEAD and the upcoming ONCE UPON A TIME IN LONDON) and we approached an experimental film playing on exhibit.  We left after 5 minutes.  To my surprise, I thought the experimental film would at least hold the interest of a film director for at least 5 minutes.  FAUSTO belongs to the section of Wavelengths, a section at the Toronto Film Festival where one can be sure to be able to get tickets.  Films in the Wavelength section usually play to empty auditoriums.

Shot on Mexico’s Oaxacan coast, Andrea Bussmann’s (co-director of TALES OF TWO WHO DREAMT) hybrid ethnography is a direct, rigorous, and largely theoretical adaptation of Goethe’s Faust that wholeheartedly adopts that text’s anti-empiricist ideals: it is a portrait of a place and its inhabitants (deceased or otherwise) caught in limbo between what is and what was.  In hushed narration, local myths commingle with the Faust narrative, while the images, shot digitally and transferred to 16mm, open onto a pre-colonial world where land and capital were not so synonymous.

(The above paragraph is the film’s TIFF description.)

The film is basically story telling, as told by the film’s randomly chosen characters the voices imposed on images, many taken of the Oaxacan coast.  The images are impressive but by no means astounding.  Quite a few of these images are shot at night and the shadows often cloud the clarity.  A few of the stories are interesting – the hidden woods that hide the girl that escapes her marauders at the beginning of creation; the search of the missing shadow of a French journalist by questioning a blind zookeeper; the computers with the black screen in the areas of the black sand that could be due to the iron in the sand and others.  Director Gassmann makes no attempt at linking these stories nor even linking some of the images with the voiceover.  The film’s pace is incredibly slow with the running time of 70 minutes feeling like a hefty 3 hours.

FAUSTO is occasionally pretty look at though it makes little sense most of the time.  See this only if you are able to enjoy experimental films or films with little narrative.  For myself, I just have so much patience.  For critics who love this film, I dare you to recommend the film to your friends.

FAUSTO opens at the Bell Lightbox Friday April 12th.  The film’s director Andrea Bussmann will be present for an introduction and post-screening Q&A at the Friday, April 12, 6:25pm screening.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV6rb012EGI

April 2019 – Read SCREENWRITER Interviews

24 screenplay writer interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo:

Interview with Screenwriter Jerry Nield (CATCH!)
Interview with Screenwriter Jerry Nield (CATCH!)

Interview with Screenwriter Mark Thiru (BLACK LIVES MATTER)
Interview with Screenwriter Mark Thiru (BLACK LIVES MATTER)

Interview with Screenwriter Daniel Fishbayn (Adventure Time)
Interview with Screenwriter Daniel Fishbayn (Adventure Time)

Interview with Screenwriter Alex Alvarez (WILL)
Interview with Screenwriter Alex Alvarez (WILL)

Interview with Screenwriter Michael Gavino (The Adorables)
Interview with Screenwriter Michael Gavino (The Adorables)

Interview with Screenwriter Paige Brien (Burden of the Blood Moon)
Interview with Screenwriter Paige Brien (Burden of the Blood Moon)

Interview with Screenwriter Susie Schecter (REAR-ENDED)
Interview with Screenwriter Susie Schecter (REAR-ENDED)

Interview with Screenwriter Thomas Clary (The Switch)
Interview with Screenwriter Thomas Clary (The Switch)

Interview with Screenwriter Stan Barton (Moon Over the Hill)
Interview with Screenwriter Stan Barton (Moon Over the Hill)

Interview with Screenwriter Giselle DaMier (ASHPODEL)
Interview with Screenwriter Giselle DaMier (ASHPODEL)

Interview with Screenwriter Justin Lamar Petty (The Immortal King Jesus)
Interview with Screenwriter Justin Lamar Petty (The Immortal King Jesus)

Interview with Screenwriter Paul Weidknecht (Paying the Night Differential)
Interview with Screenwriter Paul Weidknecht (Paying the Night Differential)

Interview with Screenwriter Renee Rubio (VIVA!!)
Interview with Screenwriter Renee Rubio (VIVA!!)

Interview with Screenwriter Grace Nguyen (MESSS)
Interview with Screenwriter Grace Nguyen (MESSS)

Interview with Screenwriter Nehemiah Russell (ODE)
Interview with Screenwriter Nehemiah Russell (ODE)

Interview with Screenwriter Christopher Santos (The Caregiver)
Interview with Screenwriter Christopher Santos (The Caregiver)

Interview with Screenwriter Alex Theo Giannoulis (STASIS*)
Interview with Screenwriter Alex Theo Giannoulis (STASIS*)

Interview with Screenwriter Haley Isleib (DRONES & DRIVERS)
Interview with Screenwriter Haley Isleib (DRONES & DRIVERS)

Interview with Screenwriter Beth Rehman (Pain in the A–)
Interview with Screenwriter Beth Rehman (Pain in the A–)

Interview with Screenwriter Shelly Paino (UNHOOKED)
Interview with Screenwriter Shelly Paino (UNHOOKED)

Interview with Screenwriter Kathryn L. Scurry (TEXAS SHIELDS)
Interview with Screenwriter Kathryn L. Scurry (TEXAS SHIELDS)

Interview with Screenwriter Randall Talton (DREAM)
Interview with Screenwriter Randall Talton (DREAM)

Interview with Screenwriter Eylem Sayman (THE SEVEN CIRCLES)
Interview with Screenwriter Eylem Sayman (THE SEVEN CIRCLES)

Interview with Screenwriter Ellen Winburn (WORTH WAITING FOR)
Interview with Screenwriter Ellen Winburn (WORTH WAITING FOR)

Interview with Screenwriter Travis Darkow (SERVILE?)
Interview with Screenwriter Travis Darkow (SERVILE?)

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Katy Erin (STUCK)
Interview with Winning Screenwriter Katy Erin (STUCK)

Interview with Screenwriter Roderick Sloan (HERO FAMILY)
Interview with Screenwriter Roderick Sloan (HERO FAMILY)

April 2019 – Read FILMMAKER Interviews

19 Filmmaker interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo:

Interview with Filmmaker Andre Sitolini (THE COOK AND THE CHEF)
Interview with Filmmaker Andre Sitolini (THE COOK AND THE CHEF)

Interview with Filmmaker Filippo Michele Guarna (MISTER EGG)
Interview with Filmmaker Filippo Michele Guarna (MISTER EGG)

Interview with Filmmaker Siqi Xiao (FARTMAN)
Interview with Filmmaker Siqi Xiao (FARTMAN)

Interview with Filmmaker Marco De Ornellas (THE DUCHESS)
Interview with Filmmaker Marco De Ornellas (THE DUCHESS)

Interview with Producer Rebecca Scotti (BUILD RAMPS NOT WALLS)
Interview with Producer Rebecca Scotti (BUILD RAMPS NOT WALLS)

Interview with Filmmaker Cynthia Hunt (ICE FLOW)
Interview with Filmmaker Cynthia Hunt (ICE FLOW)

Interview with Filmmaker Michael McCallum (LOVE IS WILD)
Interview with Filmmaker Michael McCallum (LOVE IS WILD)

Interview with Filmmaker Greg Tudéla (BREAKDOWN)
Interview with Filmmaker Greg Tudéla (BREAKDOWN)

Interview with Filmmaker Greedy Goons (Seth Scott™ – elxr Track3 v2 3)
Interview with Filmmaker Greedy Goons (Seth Scott™ – elxr Track3 v2 3)

Interview with Filmmaker Hadi Moussally (POSITIVE)
Interview with Filmmaker Hadi Moussally (POSITIVE)

Interview with Filmmaker Tim Jockel (HYPRA)
Interview with Filmmaker Tim Jockel (HYPRA)

Interview with Filmmaker Roisin Kearney (THE FAMILY WAY)
Interview with Filmmaker Roisin Kearney (THE FAMILY WAY)

Interview with Filmmaker Mahée Merica (A SIGN)
Interview with Filmmaker Mahée Merica (A SIGN)

Interview with Filmmaker Natacha Thomas (BLOSSOM)
Interview with Filmmaker Natacha Thomas (BLOSSOM)

Video Interview with Filmmaker Sashi Arnold & Stephen Gallacher (UNEXPECTED ITEM)

Interview with Filmmaker Erika Kramer (SHE’S MARRYING STEVE)
Interview with Filmmaker Erika Kramer (SHE’S MARRYING STEVE)

Interview with Filmmaker Camille Liu Nock (BO & MEI)
Interview with Filmmaker Camille Liu Nock (BO & MEI)

Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Montoya (HIM)
Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Montoya (HIM)

Interview with Filmmaker P.J. Norton (EXPIRATION DATE)
Interview with Filmmaker P.J. Norton (EXPIRATION DATE)

Interview with Filmmaker David Lykes Keenan (BODIES OF WATER)
Interview with Filmmaker David Lykes Keenan (BODIES OF WATER)

April 2019 – Read FILM FESTIVAL Interviews

5 interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo:

Interview with the KanivFest Kaniv International Film Festival
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/04/08/interview-with-the-kanivfest-kaniv-international-film-festival/

Interview with Festival Director Sasha Santiago (GRID EDGE FILM FESTIVAL)
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/04/08/interview-with-festival-director-sasha-santiago-grid-edge-film-festival/

Interview with Festival Director Iris Gonzalez (THROUGH MY EYES FILM FESTIVAL)
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/04/08/interview-with-festival-director-iris-gonzalez-through-my-eyes-film-festival/

Interview with Festival Director Paola Melli (SOUTH SOCIAL FILM FESTIVAL)
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/04/08/interview-with-festival-director-paola-melli-south-social-film-festival/

Interview with Festival Producers Christine Cannavo & Eafat Newton (WOMEN IN COMEDY FESTIVAL)
https://festivalreviews.org/2019/04/08/interview-with-festival-producers-christine-cannavo-eafat-newton-women-in-comedy-festival/

Interview with the KanivFest Kaniv International Film Festival

Festival  designed to create a powerful cultural – educational platform that aims to unite Ukrainian and foreign film makers and introduce viewers works with professionals and amateurs.

Contact

 
1. What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Kaniv Film Festival succeeds for filmmaker at monetary awards and advertising especially for the Ukrainian State Film Agency and different film production studios.

2. What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

If you attend Kaniv Film Festival you will get:
– a lot of communication with actors, producers, cameramen and other persons, who involved to movie industry;
– different master-classes connecting the filmmaking processes:
– impressed by the beautiful landscapes and friendly treatment;
– a new friends.

3. What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The films of any genre direction and timekeeping are admitted for participation (Short 25 min., a full meter to 90 minutes.), the production not before 2 years of the festival conducting (not before 2016). For films in a foreign language, the subtitles in Ukrainian and English are the requirement.

4. Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Speaking about our festival, we hope that our jury finds quality films.

5. What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Firstly we want to give a chance for filmmakers to get their names and their films known in movie industry. And we also want to do the powerful platform for communication between filmmakers.

6. How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Everything was ok. Thanks to FilmFreeway we got a lot of international participants.

7. Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We have a lot of plans. We are improving all the time and we are trying our best for the people who works in cinematography world. We want to see a lot of both Ukrainian and international participants present in our festivals. We also want to attract experts who will share their experience. And we also want to give our participants large monetary awards and world recognition. It’s not by chance our mission is- “If you want to get Cannes- let’s start from Kaniv”.

8. What film have you seen the most times in your life?

We can’t choose just one. Many films left a great impession.

9. In one sentence, what makes a great film?

To our mind the combination of idea, extraordinary and aftertaste makes a great film.

10. How is the film scene in your city?

In our city we have Movie Theater and outdoor screening.

 

 

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Interview with Festival Director Sasha Santiago (GRID EDGE FILM FESTIVAL)

Grid Edge Fest wants to live screen your short film in Brooklyn, NY. The festival is one part tech conference, two parts community workshops, and a grand finale live screening event as the centerpiece.

Contact

 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Sasha Santiago: People generally want connectivity and to be part of a community that feels creative, fresh and original. Grid Edge Fest wants to make an event out of the films it selects. To spotlight films that take on the complex subject of climate change and create a space that makes it accessible to a new audience.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

If you’re like me, you sometimes wonder why don’t people go to movies as much anymore? That last few times I’ve been to a theater, I found it odd how I’m one of maybe a dozen attendees present. Maybe it’s because of the content, maybe it’s the $18 matinee ticket price or maybe it’s the lack of a community.

Grid Edge Fest first and foremost is a film festival, with a series of interactive events that lead up to the live screening event. These include tech talks on innovative breakthrough solutions that look at data as the new fuel of the future (see exergy.energy) to fight back at climate change, as well as family-friendly community workshops that find the fun in educating people on what can be done about climate change at the local level.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Grid Edge Fest wants the best films yet on the topic of climate change or important environmental stories. The films can DIY stories shot on an iPhone or high caliber professionally produced gems, the sincere hope is that people who watch these films would be both united and inspired and that they will leave the festival with a new commitment in their hearts to combat climate change in a manner that truly resonates.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Film is an expensive and competitive art form. Organizing a sustainable film festival isn’t cheap nor easy. New film festivals like Grid Edge Fest have a proven failure rate after the first or second year because they don’t successfully find their audience. As far as giving films a fair shake, I can’t speak for other festivals but I’ll presume it has something to do with targeted demographics. Who will make the pilgrimage to the film festival? Usually, the films selected looks like the audience it’s trying to attract.

The film business has been historically ruled by white men from upper-middle-class socioeconomic backgrounds for a very long time, but the good news is that we’re seeing more evidence of that being reconciled as the old guard dies. I think we’re seeing some pretty good strides and small wins (Boomshakalaka!!!) in the last few years but a film festival that stands for just fairness or diversity sake isn’t enough to be sustainable or engaging. The films still need to be good and a festival’s most important job is to offer a well-curated experience.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We’re totally new to FilmFreeway. It’s a cool service, makes it super easy to submit a film. We’re still looking for more short films to be submitted. Each of the short films selected for the Spring 2019 live screening would be considered a winner and be awarded a $250 prize.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Grid Edge Fest intends to constantly reinvent itself in order to maintain agility and flexibility while it keeps its eyes peeled for the oncoming 3° freight train, that’s threatening our planet.

In 2023, we see GEF being a seasonal roadshow style film festival. It’ll be outstanding if GEF would have a structure or mechanisms in place to increase the liquidity of film investment and distribution for filmmakers around the world that might not have easy access to resources to tell their environmental stories.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

That’s a personal question I’m not ready to answer here but I’ll give you a hint, he may wear a yellow hat and trench coat.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is one that you can return to time and time again, like when your hanging with a good ole bud who is aging gracefully with you.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Rent is too damn high and we’ve been losing too many indie theaters because of it. New York City is a constant hustle. When I asked the same question to my GEF film advisor, Joel Fendelman, he told me that this challenge of high rent is what drives half the city to constantly push through anyway. It’s a melting pot of idealists and artists on the cutting edge filled with ambition. Maybe this is why NYC is the perfect place to launch the festival.

To answer your question, I think the film scene in my city is the company you keep and the projects you put your life into and take over the finish line no matter what.

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Interview with Festival Director Iris Gonzalez (THROUGH MY EYES FILM FESTIVAL)

Through My Eyes is an international and Indigenous short film festival that seeks to showcase the stories of Indigenous peoples from all over the world. The festival aims to redefine the word Indigenous, originally meaning “of the land”, and in doing so, create community through the understanding that we are all indigenous to somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re native to the United States, the aboriginal lands of Australia, Europe, Asia, or Africa.

Contact

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Iris Gonzalez: Providing a platform for underrepresented, Indigenous, and international independent filmmakers. In addition to providing this essential platform for filmmakers, we are providing that same platform for visual artists, live performers, and dancers.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

A window into the various cultures of the planet that I am not fully aware of or engaging with. To expand my view on ritual and storytelling.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We accept shorts, 30 mins and under in all genres who identify as Indigenous or stars as an Indigenous person or whose film’s content is based on Indigenous culture.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

I’m starting to see more platforms for Indigenous stories in the larger festivals like Sundance and such. This is a good thing but I do feel it’s still harder for Indigneous filmmakers to get a fair shake. This is where we come in. We try to reduce the barriers that some other festivals have.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Being Indigenous myself as the executive director and an experienced filmmaker, I’ve seen these barriers firsthand. We also know that we greatly learn through the power of story. These filmmakers have extraordinary things to say and the more festivals like us the better.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been an incredible process. Very friendly to a busy team. We are so grateful for the content that has come through it’s portal. Several of our selections have come through FilmFreeway.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We hope to partner with great like-minded organizations to bring this festival to it’s fullest potential and hope to guide others wishing to do the same.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Funnily enough, we see such potential in some of our film submission that have many many problems but are fixable. Through working together, we end up watching these films more often than any other films in our lives.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

The power of the story and the ability to transform our reality.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

We live in the mecca of Los Angeles with great great competition. Which makes it an honor when we see our attendants and the desire for people to want to expand their knowledge about the world around them.
 

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Interview with Festival Director Paola Melli (SOUTH SOCIAL FILM FESTIVAL)

South Social Film Festival is a trans-geographical, multicultural and multidimensional festival celebrating independent cinema, dance, world music, art and regional cuisine, launched in 2015 in London.

https://www.instagram.com/southsocialfilmfest/

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Paola Melli: Creating a platform where they can express and promote themselves.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

Networking with professionals, a good selection of up and coming filmmakers , discovering talents and culture.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

New and original content, young filmmakers that need to be boosted.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Short films unless they go to a short film festival, don’t get enough exposure. A balanced mix of feature films and shorts could be a winning strategy.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Passion about diversity, different cultures, innovative kind of filmmaking, discovery of new talents.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been good and helpful, it really put us on the international map.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Maybe a franchising in different countries.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Wings of desire by Wim Wenders

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Being symbolic, mesmerising, unique and representing a life changing experience.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Thriving, lots of diversity and talent that sadly is not widely seen.

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Interview with Festival Producers Christine Cannavo & Eafat Newton (WOMEN IN COMEDY FESTIVAL)

Women in Comedy Festival is thrilled to partner with HBO, NBC and Showtime’s Frankie Shaw to work towards closing the gender gap in the film and television industry. The festival will feature original comedic content created by filmmakers and screenwriters from all over the world.