Short Film Movie Review: LIKE IN THE MOVIES (5min, Italy, Documentary)

LIKE IN THE MOVIES played to rave reviews at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016.

  MOVIE POSTER

LIKE IN THE MOVIES, 5min, Italy, Documentary

Directed by Francesco Faralli

Following his cinephile passion, Daniele Bonarini (from the Association “Il Cenacolo Francescano”), realizes digital feature films shot with the enthusiastic support of friends and volunteers using disabled persons as actors.

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

This is the second of Francesco Faralli’s films that I’ve seen, and the second with Tiziano Barbini’s participation, and I can’t help but smile every time. There is something truly wonderful in the work that Faralli does by making films with the disabled. He creates true masterpieces, and, in pretending, provides us with a deep look into who these people really are.

There is a split second where you’re watching Faralli’s films where I noticed myself laughing at a disabled person, a concept that I had always imagined appauling. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to not laugh while watching Faralli’s work. Him and his actors create wonderfully heartwarming stories that demonstrate just what the disabled are truly capable of, and I can truly say it’s a hell of a lot more than I can do.

Tiziano Barbini is one Faralli’s most popular leading men, and together the pair have won several awards in film festivals world wide. Tiziano, at least in Faralli’s films, is a very positive, loving, and emotional person, who seems to experience every detail of the world with the intensity most of us reserve for more extreme achievements. He truly exemplifies the concept of living life to the fullest, and appreciating every moment, smiling at the smallest of details, and pointing out beauty everywhere he goes.

Perhaps it’s just because I’m a sentimental ball of mush, but I could watch Faralli’s films a million times and never get bored of them. Tiziano stole my heart in the very first of his documentaries that I watched, and without ever even meeting him, I know he’ll always be able to bring a smile to my face. I don’t know if everyone would enjoy this film as much as I did. The audience at Wild Sound certainly seemed to give it a very positive reception. In any case I urge you to look in to some of Faralli’s work. What he is doing both for the independent film industry and for the disabled community in Italy is amazing, and it deserves more attention from all of us.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film

Short Film Movie Review: LOVE AT FIRST LIGHT (1min, Ireland, Comedy)

LOVE AT FIRST LIGHT played to rave reviews at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016.

  MOVIE POSTER

LOVE AT FIRST LIGHT, 1min, Ireland, Comedy

Directed by Caroline Grace-Cassidy

A mixup occurs the morning after a one night stand.

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

More of a punch-line than a short film, Love At First Light is one of the better short comedies I’ve seen in a while. Trust the Irish to keep things simple, and to the point, even in the most awkward and racy situations.

It’s hard to talk about a 1 minute film without revealing most of its plot line, but I’m sure many of us have been there. If not we know more than enough stories from our friends who have been there. That one night stand that got away, that we could never stop thinking about. Thankfully none of the characters in this film will ever have to struggle with these doubts.

This is actually a great short film to watch on Valentine’s day, whether you’re single or in a relationship. All of us can appreciate the silly transience of our emotions, particularly when they come with they relate to the strong, passionate sentiments of love. We’ve all had that partner, or crush, that we think we could never live without, until we do and we’re ok. We’ve all had that moment where we’ve had just a little too much to drink and all of a sudden we become the most deeply feeling and loving human beings on the planet.

…No? Just me then? In any case, Caroline Grace-Cassidy’s film is incredibly relateable, hilarious, and clever. Grace-Cassidy manages to pack quite a powerful mix of emotions and comedy, within an incredibly short film, showcasing a very strong talent for story-telling. Lovers of stand-up will love this short film that could easily be a segway into one of Seinfeld’s shows. Whether your significant other is a box of chocolates, a furry companion, or a two legged semi-hairless being, give this film a watch with them. You’re likely to have a good laugh regardless of your situation.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film

Short Film Movie Review: OH MY OH AGAMI (4min, Egypt, Documentary/Poetry)

OH MY OH AGAMI played to rave reviews  at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016. 

OH MY OH AGAMI, 4min, Egypt, Documentary/Poetry
Directed by Hani R. Eskander

A visual poem depicting a life of an Agami resident who reminisces his childhood amidst the ongoing destruction and illegal construction.

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

I’m often skeptical of poetic cinema, in the same way that I’m often skeptical of overly “artsy” cinema. Although I have found many that I have enjoyed and appreciated, I’m all too aware that these films can often go one of two ways. Oh My Oh Agami is definitely one of the winners.

Despite not being able to understand what was being said in the film without the assistance of the subtitles, I could certainly appreciate the lovely intonations and rhyming sounds I was able to pick up. One of the great advantages of poetic cinema is that it opens up the meanings and rythmns of poetry in different languages, in a way that the written form cannot. It opens access to a whole world of literature that would otherwise be completely locked to those who do not speak the language.

What’s more Oh My Oh Agami opens up a world and concept that are almost completely foreign to North Americans, and others in the developed world. To most of us, the concept of illegal building seems almost impossible. How could anyone ever build an entire building without the city or government legally allowing them to do it? It’s difficult for us to grasp how some countries and governments can have so few resources that they are not able to enforce the law in any way, or where they are so easily bribed for want of accountability.

Hani R Eskander’s film immerses us in Egyptian culture through everything from its imagery, to its phonetic beauty, to its harsh realities. He both satiates and entices our wanderlust by bringing us into his world, and teaching us more about his day to day life. Through his poetic words and imagery, Eskander captures the true meaning of the concept of “show don’t tell,” playing into his audience’s curiosity.

Oh My Oh Agami is truly a beautiful film, and a powerful statement against illegal building in Egypt. If nothing else it’s worth a watch purely for the eye-opening experience it provides. This film is for the philanthropist, the traveller, and the environmentalist in all of us. It is a truly gorgeously made short film that deserves our attention, even if only for four short minutes.

Watch the AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Festival of the Short Film:

Short Film Movie Review: THE MEGA PLUSH (4min, USA, Animation/Action)

THE MEGA PLUSH was the winner of Best Film at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016. 

  MOVIE POSTERTHE MEGA PLUSH, 4min, USA, Animation/Action
Directed by Matt Burniston

Set in the shadows of a gritty underworld, a war is brewing. The Mega Plush, a group of four plush toy vigilantes, are struggling against the uprising of the SOC (Society of Chimps) army. Good vs evil. Bear vs sock monkey. The question is “who has the stuffing to survive?”

http://www.themegaplush.com/

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

Badass gangsters, a suspenseful chase scene, cute plush stuffed animals, what’s not to like? Matt Burnison has definitely hit gold mine territory in my book. After so many predictable Marvel films coming out its beyond refreshing to see an original action hero story coming from independent cinema, once again reminding me what Hollywood could achieve if it listened to new voices.

Perhaps the best part of Burnison’s short is that he kind of leaves you guessing who the bad guys and the good guys are. Though there seemed to be some sort of concensus in the audience that the monkeys were the ‘goodies’, the look of his compatriots in the final scene make me beg to differ. Nevertheless, this ambiguity was a comforting change to the traditional “good vs bad” dichotomy that we’re all too accustomed to these days. We all know that in real life things aren’t quite so simple, and I appreciate that Burnison didn’t force his own bias on his audience.

In any case no philosophical discussion of the originilaity of The Mega Plush could do the film itself justice. The sountrack, lighting, compositing, story-telling and directing of the film were all top quality. In fact I was incredibly surprised when, during mediation, I noticed two people who shook their heads at every positive comment, and seemed to really dislike the film. Of course every film will have supporters and so called “haters”, but I couldn’t help but feel surprised that any one would dislike this film.

I suppose I have made my bias for this film a litl emore than obvious. I’m sure there will be those of you out there who won’t enjoy this short, as there are many people out there who don’t enjoy many popular films. When you’re investing 2 hours of your time for a Hollywood blockbuster that everyone is raving about, but you just don’t happen to like, I completely understand that you might be annoyed. But if you have a free four minutes to spare, check out Burnison’s website for The Mega Plush project, best case scenario; you just watched a great short film. Worst case… well I doubt that will even happen.

Watch the AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Festival of the Short Film:

 

 

Short Film Movie Review: YO SOY PEDRO (10min, France, Sci-Fi/Comedy)

YO SOY PEDRO was the winner of Best Musical Score at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016. 

  MOVIE POSTERYO SOY PEDRO, 10min, France, Sci-Fi/Comedy
Directed by Jordan Inconstant

1977. Mackenzie and Banks are two Americans cops who encounter an alien that has just crashed. The police take him for a film actor and decide to bring it back to Hollywood studios. 

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

Yo Soy Pedro is one of the most unique films I have seen in a while, and it took me a little discussion with other audience members in order to truly appreciate it in all its glory. I guess that just serves as all the more proof of how misunderstood the science fiction genre can be. Nevertheless once I got a better handle on it, I realized how great of an example this film was that science fiction doesn’t need complex story-lines or super expensive production values to create quality entertainment.

Jordan Inconstant’s short film could not embody the director’s own name more. A Hollywood based film, spoken almost entirely in French, with extremely obvious, not-so-special effects Yo Soy Pedro manages to embrace two different genres while still making a political statement. Tired of watching numerous films based in different countries where everyone speaks English, Inconstant decided to create one in the United States, where everyone speaks French. Moreover, he adds to his critique of Holywood cinema by very poorly dubbing the only supposedly Spanish speaking actor in the film. In fact, despite my fluency with the language I could barely tell it was even Spanish that he was speaking – thank goodness for subtitles.

It’s impossible not to appreciate the cleverness of Inconstant’s creation, through everything from his plotline, to his production values, to his intricate use of language. Inconstant proves that he is able to laugh at himself, and at the film industry as a whole, while still embracing it with all its flaws. He not only seizes at Hollywood’s cheesiest cliches, he subverts them so cleverly that you could watch his film repeatedly and discover a new facet each time.

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to declare this film is for everyone, but it certainly has a strong appeal to a well-informed cinemaphile. In fact, for fans of Tim Burton, I have to admit some aspects of this film reminded me quite a bit of Ed Wood.Anyone who’s seen Burton’s infamous flop will quickly understand why Yo Soy Pedro might incite equally mixed reactions. If you’re a fan of clever, self-reflexive Hollywood comedy, give Inconstant’s film a shot. If he doesn’t have you on the floor laughing, he’ll at the very least be able to force our an involuntary smile from you.

Watch the AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Festival of the Short Film:

Short Film Movie Review: DISAPPEARED (5min, Canada, Fantasy/Romance)

DISAPPEARED played to rave reviews at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016. 

DISAPPEARED, 5min, Canada, Fantasy/Romance
Directed by Jon Silverberg

On the day he plans to propose to his girlfriend, a lowly shipping clerk finds a fountain pen that cause objects to vanish. He embraces the strange phenomenon as a novelty, until it threatens to impede his romantic plans, and very existence.

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

This film definitely played on one of my biggest fears, and despite its light-hearted nature I couldn’t help but feel a heavy knot in my gut after watching this. I have mentioned repeatedly in my reviews how much I am a fan of horror, but perhaps the very fact that Disappeared isn’t a horror film is what got my nerves jumping. Fortunately I seem to be the only person in the audience with a phobia for disappearances, as everyone else seems to have simply enjoyed it for what it was, even more so for its open-endedness.

While Jon Silverbeg’s introductory performance could have been a little more convincing, this minor flaw is quickly forgotten as the rest of the story draws us in. There’s even a certain catharsis in the very idea of a magical “erasing” pen that can make all our troubles go away. You can’t help but root for Silverberg’s character as you watch him magic all his problems away just so he can make it to dinner and propose to his girlfriend.

The best thing about this short was most certainly the ending… in a good way. It is both surprising, and vague enough to let you create your own satisfying version, and even leave you longing for a sequel. One audience members cleverly pointed out that it would have been interesting to encounter the other people or objects that the magical pen had been used on. In fact nothing says Jon Silverberg’s character wouldn’t encounter exactly that just moments later. The film ends so abruptly it leaves all that room precisely for you to interpret and decide where his life goes to from here.

It’s easy to deduce from here that this film is certainly one for the more creatively minded. Nevertheless, caution should be taken for those with a phobia of disappearing loved ones, like me. I guess that also makes this perfect for lovers of mystery. It’s always nice to appreciate good home-grown cinema, and Disappeared is definitely a good example of the capacity of the Canadian imagination.

Watch the AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Festival of the Short Film:

Interview with the Brooklyn Short Film Festival

Brooklyn Short Film Festival brings together the world’s best short films in an engaging atmosphere for the purpose of developing connections and building new relationships in the film industry.

brooklynshorts.com/

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

Showcasing the world’s best short films.  We consider ourselves New York’s premiere short film festival.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)? 

A high profile short film festival in some of Brooklyn’s premiere cinema venues.  We break our festival up into short film programs, each very unique and diverse with a wide breadth of short films.  We try to pair more local and independent short films together with high budget fare to make for a diverse experience.

Matthew:  What are the qualifications for the selected films? 

The films must be short.  Nothing longer than 45 minutes.  We tend to program mostly in the 8-12 minute range.

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

I would say there are at least 400+ legitimate festivals in the world.  The onus lies on the filmmakers for selecting which festival is best suited to the strengths of their films.  The only festival I am able to speak for is the Brooklyn Short Film Festival, and we give films of all stripes and persuasions “a fair shake”.  We watch each film entry multiple times.  We attempt to program at least 60% from direct submissions to the festival.  The other 40% is alumni and invitations. Once a film has been accepted into a festival, most filmmakers believe their work is finished, but this is far from the case.  Again, the onus lies on the filmmakers to fully utilize what a festival provides, and they should be prepared with a press agent, a marketing campaign, social media, etc. to create their own “shake” and momentum from the festival.

Matthew:  What motivates you and your team to do this festival? 

We like short films.  We enjoy watching filmmakers develop in their trade, going onto creating features or film/television work.  Short films are a great way to connect and the format is very broad in terms of what can be done.  Features are much more limited by the very nature of the scope.  A concept can be very funny at 5 minutes, or very engaging.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception? 

We have had a very focused mission and our festival has stayed on point from inception to current versions.

Matthew:  Where do you see the festival by 2020? 

We hope to be Academy Award eligible for our filmmakers.

Matthew:  What film have you seen the most times in your life? 

Casablanca or Don Hertzfeld

Matthew:  In one sentence, what makes a great film? 

An appropriate length to concept ratio.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city? 

New York is world class.  Brooklyn is a powerhouse and has a brilliant scene.  I would like to give a shout out to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Videology for maintaining a high calibre program of diverse films.  Many of the world’s foremost directors, actors, producers, crew, editors and fans live in New York and Brooklyn.

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Short Film Movie Review: GREECE (Canada, 16min. Drama)

  MOVIE POSTERGREECE, 16min, Canada, Drama
Directed by Sarah Deakins

On a rainy afternoon in a British nursing home, a woman struggles to make a last connection with her seemingly catatonic mother.

“A tribute to the complicated relationships between parents and children with moving dialogue and expressions…A deeply personal journey with beautiful cinematography.”
– Best Shorts Competition

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of GREECE from the FEEDBACK Film Festival:

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

This film hits near and dear to my heart. With many family members who have suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, I am all too familiar with the struggles and frustrations the disease can cause on victims, family members, and caretakers alike. Sarah Deakins has done a fantastic job in portraying these struggles through an incredibly simple, yet equally powerful screenplay.

I suppose my personal experience with this illness creates an obvious bias towards this film, but it wasn’t so much the subject matter that drew me to this film so much as the way the subject matter was treated. I felt that Deakins did an exceptional job in portraying a very realistic, emotional scenario without dipping too far into cliché. It was all very believable, very clear, and very close to the reality of what families can experience when a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The performances contributed greatly to sharp sense of realness of the short. This is particularly surprising for a film supported almost entirely by a monologue from one of the characters. Deakin’s superimpositions of the fantasy images that are going through each of the character’s heads only magnify the already brilliant cinematography of Greece, luring you in further.

Greece is not an excessively dramatic film, though it speaks of quite a terrible tragedy. It doesn’t take you on a crazy emotional journey, but it still tugs, ever so gently, at your heart. It’s a warm cup of tea on a quiet, melancholy, cold day. It might make you tear up a bit, it might make you appreciate your parents or your grandparents more, it might bore you or not affect you at all. Still it’s worth a watch, a thoughtful, reflective watch, when you’re in the mood for some more serious pondering. If nothing else I hope it reminds you to enjoy your life and appreciate it for all it is and for all you can do within it, because one day you might not be able to anymore.

Short Film Movie Review: MOUSSE (Sweden, 40min. Comedy/Crime)

  MOVIE POSTERMOUSSE, 38min, Sweden, Comedy/Crime
Directed by John Hellberg

MOUSSE is a medium length droll and blackly comic tale of an honest criminal and police ineptitude.

MOUSSE was the winner of best film at the 2014 FEEDBACK Film Festival. 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of MOUSSE:

Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco:

Absolutely brilliant. I’ve seen this movie 3 times already and I can’t get enough of it. After watching it the first time at WILDSound, I could not stop thinking about how great it was, I even hunted parts of the soundtrack down, until finally I had to hunt down the film itself. This is especially surprising considering this film is one of the longer selections I’ve seen at WILDSound, standing at 41 minutes. Even if you’re not a lover of subtitles, I would give this film a try.

To begin with, the acting in this film is exceptional, particularly for a film with such a wide diversity of cast, and an equal diversity of languages. Every character in Mousse is meticulously developed and well rounded, and every performance throughout the film feels nothing but genuine. The casting of the elderly policemen could equally not have been more perfect as it added a surprising element of hilarity to the film.

It’s hard to call John Hellberg’s picture a “short film” given its ambiguous length, standing somewhere between a feature and a short film, but at no point during the film do you find yourself disengaged or uninterested. Hellberg propels the story forward through a series of juxtapositions that intertwine seamlessly into the main story line, and prevent any semblance of boredom. Moreover, the production quality gives no sense of cutting any corners, giving Mousse an almost feature like quality.

Between the odd translations and awkward pauses in communication, the age and attitude of the policemen, & the jokes the actors tell each other, it’s hard to say what part of Mousse isn’t hilarious. It’s almost as if Hellberg is trying to cover all his bases in the humour category, from visual, to verbal, he even throws a couple of fart jokes in there just in case.

If you haven’t caught on by now, I think this film needs more visibility. Heck, if it were a part of a DVD collection I would buy it right away just to show others. It will take a little more of your time than most short films, but you’ll be laughing so hard the whole time you’ll hardly notice it passing. This is the first of Hellberg’s films that I’ve ever encountered, but I hope to come across many more in the future.

 

Movie Review: CHICKLAND (Short Film) 2015

CHICKLAND played to rave reviews at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

  MOVIE POSTERCHICKLAND, 11min, France, Comedy/Sci-Fi
Directed by Stanislav Graziani

Bubu and Toufik think they are the next Steve Jobs and Martin Zuckerberg… They have implanted a chip in their brain, which gives them access to the web… giving them instant access to universal knowledge. For their first experiment, they test it on picking up girls…

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

Chickland left me a little bit on the fence. With the growing dissemination of devices like the Google Glass, and the expansion of Virtual Reality technology Chickland is a bit of a terrifying reminder of a reality that we could all soon be living in. Nevertheless, director Stanislav Graziani did a good job at balancing out the miracles of new technology, with the limitations of our own human psyche, providing  a slightly less dystopic view of the future.

The hardest thing to understand about the film was the age range of the actors involved. The male actors seemed far too young to be approaching the girls they were trying to pick up, although perhaps this was done on purpose, considering the end result of their experiment. The end of the film itself is also a bit reassuring, emphasizing the humanity of even the most technologically oriented minds.

There isn’t much that can be said about Chickland without revealing much of the film’s plot. It’s a peek into the future, into what life might look like if Google Glass ever really catches on. Of course there are certain differences. It’s not likely that the Google Glass “victims” of the future will have no suspicion of the tactics being used on them. Then again perhaps this was what Graziani was indicating in his depiction of the boy’s interaction with the math student.

Students of art might also find this film a little insulting in how easily the one boy was able to fake being a literary connoisseur, while his counterpart struggled to prove his math prowess. Nevertheless both the boys’ reactions to “completing the task” at the end of the film showed a lot of emotional sensitivity, one that most young boys of that age would normally not be so ready to admit or expose.

Chickland is an interesting experimental look into what our future might look like, how our grandchildren might date, find partners, or explore their sexuality. It sparks a lot of thinking about where our technological pursuits are heading, what it might truly bring us in the future. This wasn’t by any means one of my favourite short films to watch, but it certainly carried some interesting ideas that will inspire you to consider how natural human emotion is able to coexist with the calculated patterns of digital technology.