Seen at the July 2016 Under 5min. FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Directed by Paul McGinnis

Loren, a proper British robot and formally the head butler for a very wealthy family, has been replaced with a Roomba and stored in the basement. Now the kids program him to teach them stuff.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

Light, bright and whimsical, Loren The Robot Butler, written, directed and creatively lead by  Paul McGinnis, entices the inner child of us all. The film’s premise is established in just a few quick moments, and with the help of a charming opening tune, explaining that an outdated robotic butler sits unused in a family’s basement, and spends his retired life teaching children. Perpetually upbeat and sporting the quintessential British Accent, our friendly butler protagonist speaks directly to the audience as though they are the very children of the household where he is kept. At the children’s request, he takes on the mission to teach them how to “Dougie”, from the well known 80’s rapper Doug E. Fresh.

The humor comes easily on several level- most liminally, from the contrast of a British robot butler, attempting to recreate hip-hop music. The upper-crust British sound and robotic movement parodying the relaxed sway of the music beat and hip-hop/rap dialect. Further, there is humor in the form of breaking of the fourth wall with the audience, and from the shock that our robot friend not only executes the dance- but does so exceptionally well!

This piece is a delightful romp through the whimsical world of song and dance as seen through the eyes of a child, but there is a level deeper. It does speak to the element of old technology trying to keep up with the new, modern and current.

The most astonishing, staggering and interesting part of Loren The Robot Butler, however, is not it’s comedy or its use of social commentary. It is it’s artistry. At first glance, this piece could be mistaken as a completely CGI 3D animation. In reality, the entire piece is performed by three puppeteers, manning the upper bottle and each leg independently. The amazing truth is, this exceptionally complicated dance move is performed in perfect execution by highly trained professionals  (Lead by McGinnis) manning one doll behind a green screen, resulting in seamless and flawless dance that passes as computer generated. This is a feat of puppeteer mastery and specialized skill rarely seen in Cinema since Dark Crystal, (Let’s not talk about Team America) and at the very least should be applauded.

Whether Lorne The Robot Butler  is a proof of concept for a delightful children’s TV show, or a demo reel for some exceptional puppeteers, it is regardless a lovely, light comedy sure to entertain.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:


a_gentlemans_guide_to_love_and_murder.jpgby Gilbert Seah

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is a musical comedy, with the book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and the music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak. The musical is enjoying both rave reviews and a successful run at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre riding on its grand win of four Tony Awards in June 2014 including Best Musical.

The musical is based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman, with some changes like the names its characters. It should be noted that the book was also made into an Ealing Studios film – the famous KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS starring Alec Guinness. While the film stood out as a black comedy, the musical version opts for outlandish comedy.

The story concerns a penniless young man named Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) who discovers that he is 9th in line to become the Earl of Highhurst. The aristocrat D’Ysquiths (the name selected because its first syllable is ‘die’; another name was used in the film) disinherited Monty’s mother and denies his existence. Monty decides to knock off the eight so that he can become Earl. In the meantime, his girlfriend Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) ditches him while he fall for Phoebe (Adrienne Eller).

The story has potential for bedroom farce, Sondheim type musical numbers and murder, a favourite theatre staple.

Kevin Massey has an excellent voice which is likely the reason he was chosen to play the main lead. He also makes a good straight man for all the comedy going around him. But it is John Rapson who steals the show, playing all the eight D’Ysquith family members as Alec Guinness did in the film. Both actors Massey and Rapson got a standing ovation during the performance I attended. But my prize for performance goes to Mary VanArsdel, playing Miss Shingle who shines in both comedy and song.

The best segment of the musical is its take on British bedroom farce with Monty hiding his two women in different rooms while being proposed by one . (See photo inset.) The shutting and opening of doors are perfect in timing with antics well choreographed while the song “I’ve Decide to Marry You” is performed.

The musical’s outlandishness is highlighted by Linda Cho’s costume design which won her a Tony. Her overdone pink costumes for Sibella and for the other females in the story are unforgettable. The scenic (Alexander Dodge) and projection design (Aaron Rhyne) also deserve mention. The moving trees in the skating sequence and the chasing bees demand mention.

Despite warnings in song at the start (“A Warning to the Audience) and middle (“Final Warning”), A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is a harmless entertaining evening at the theatre that should delight everyone without offending any. The only times the musical almost offends are the segments with Lady Hyacinth abroad in Africa, India and Egypt. But those are forgivable as they are done for the purpose of harmless enjoyment.

Interview with Festival Director Chris Grigsby (Cinevision Film Festival)

Cinevision Film Festival is an international competition for short filmmakers located in Santa Fe, NM at the heart of the city.  We aim to help amateur filmmakers make the professional leap.  This year’s competition is a little bit different than in the past.  We’re focusing more on shorter films to allow more directors the opportunity to be seen.  This year’s festival is directed by Chris Grigsby who is partnering with film4change and this is our film to help create the best program we’ve had yet.

Interview with Chris Grigsby:

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

Chris Grigsby: Cinevision Film Festival is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For those who don’t know, Santa Fe, Nm is indeed a real place and it happens to be a film and artist hub. Independence Day 2, Seth Rogan’s new project, “Preacher” and the ever popular Netflix show, “Longmire,” are just some of the recent project that are taking place here. With the film Festival, we like to give the opportunity for Filmmakers to showcase their work to an audience that is very involved in the business, and hopefully be a bridge between the amateur and professional realm.

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

CG: Laughing. Crying. Puking. Walk-outs and the occasional standing ovation is what I’m praying for. This year we had over 700 submissions from around the world and the program is shaping into one of the best showcases I’ve seen, but then again I’m biased.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

CG: Cinevision is an International Short Film Festival, so fifteen minutes or less is kind of our style. If you think punk-rock teen angst meets ballroom reception with a splash of comedy, this would be our qualifications. You won’t see to many heart felt documentaries this year.

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

CG: I can’t say with any certainty but I’m sure you could make a case for it. The beautiful thing about today, is that there are film festivals springing up all around the world that gives filmmakers an even greater chance to be seen and heard. So I would say try your chance and if it doesn’t work out, try again.

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

CG: Cinevision is part of a weekend art festival held at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Were right in between Outdoor Vision Festival, which is an art instillation and projection exhibit, and Quadstock Music Festival. Their always seems to be a friendly rivalry between the events, and we want to win that rivalry. There is always a large crowd that comes out every year and we want them to come for the art, stay for the film and relax on the music.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

CG: We’ve shifted the program to focus on shorter works and opened up the competition more internationally, just to give the opportunity for more filmmakers to show their work. The competition abroad was really strong this season and I know the audience will appreciate that. If you’ve ever been to Santa Fe, then you’ll understand just how worldly the community is.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

CG: I’d like for the festival to keep its small town feel, and still support major competition. The great thing about being in Santa Fe, is that the filmmaker never gets lost in the shuffle and has the opportunities that any major film market could provide.

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

CG: Probably John Carpenters, Halloween. I started watching that around the age when I wasn’t supposed to and feel in love with it. And because of that, I’ll never get the soundtrack outta my head.

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

CG: A great film breaths life from pictures.


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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Kimberly Bush (DC Shorts Film Festival)

Voted “Coolest Film Festival” by MovieMaker Magazine, DC Shorts Film Festival and Screenplay Competition is one of the largest short film events on the East Coast.  Last year, they screened 135 films from 25 countries in 18 unique showcases over 11 days to audiences of more than 9,000 people.

 Kimberley Bush Photo.jpgInterview with Executive Director Kimberly Bush

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

Kimberly Bush: DC Shorts Film Festival provides a robust venue for short film filmmakers to present their films. We are successful at being a 11 day full/well rounded experience for filmmakers. Filmmakers are able to not only screen their films but we invite them to the festival to spend authentic time with the audience in Q&A/panel discussions. The filmmakers can enhance their craft in our filmmaker workshops/classes as well as celebrate their presence at the festival at one of our celebrations including our Filmmaker Awards Brunch.

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

KB: As an attendee you can expect to see poignant, riveting, multicultural, diverse and groundbreaking films in every genre from all over the globe. There are many opportunities for attendees to share dialogue with filmmakers in our Q&A/panel discussions/roundtables or at one of our celebrations. We also offer free workshops/classes for attendees interested filmmaking as well as free film showcases for youth and free lunch time film screenings. During the last weekend of our film festival, attendees can experience our Screenplay Competition. During this event, attendees will hear a table reading of approximately 6 different screenplays that have been previously selected by a juried panel. After the table readings they will be able to vote for the best screenplay. That screenwriter will be awarded a cash prize and their completed film will gain entry into the following year’s film festival. The Film Festival is truly 11 days of nonstop engaging fun and film.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

KB: Our main judging criterion is story. We screen all genres and styles of film. All films are 30 seconds to 20 minutes in length. We look for interesting and original stories with developed and well-written characters.

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

KB: I do think that there is a film festival/film competition for every kind/genre of film. It’s up the filmmakers to find the best festival for their film. However, we appreciate the difficulty of rejection, and so have created a “second chance opportunity” program within DC Shorts. DC Shorts’ Take 2 screens films that didn’t quite make the cut for the festival selection, allowing the audience to choose 2 films to make it back into the festival. This takes place over two days in May.

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

KB: Every year we receive feedback during the film festival (as well as months after) stating how much of a life-changing event it was for the filmmakers. They enjoyed all the opportunities to commune with the attendees and other filmmakers as well as the educational programming we provide. They felt well taken care of in regard to the housing/hotel accommodations we organize for them as well as the city tours and our Feed A Filmmaker program. What gives us the energy and motivation to create DC Shorts Film Festival year after year is knowing that our year round efforts make such a huge, positive impact on our filmmakers and the community. We do believe that film changes lives and we are charged with responsibility to provide the space that can bring film to the eyes and ears of the community.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

KB: The Festival has grown exponentially! In 2003 we were a 3 day film festival screening in only one location. We now have a screenplay competition with a cash prize award. We have had screenings in up to 5 different locations. During the film festival, we offer patrons who may not be able to attend the festival in person, our Online Film Festival where they can view 90% of the films that are actually in the festival. We host epic celebrations as well as free children’s film showcases in libraries throughout Washington DC as well as free filmmaker workshops and beginner/master classes.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

KB: I am relatively new to DC Shorts…I came aboard as the Executive Director in 2015. 2016 has brought more exciting changes to my staff. I have hired an amazing programming team. Joe Bilancio, our Director of Programming and Derek Horne, our Programming Lead, both with extraordinary track records/experience and insatiable passion for film. With this new team we will begin planning for DC Shorts’ future which may include new and exciting partnerships and collaborations that will provide even bigger and better opportunities for filmmakers.

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

KB: That is an impossible question to answer…so suffice it to say that I have watched repeatedly –not in any particular order—any Steven Soderburgh, Lisa Cholodenko, Spike Lee, Stanly Kubrick, Pedro Almodovar, Alfred Hitchcock, Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Todd Haynes, or Quentin Tarantino film. #GloriousFilmMakers!

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

KB: If a film has the ability to REALLY make you think, feel, laugh, contemplate your own thoughts/way of being/existence or just create some level of change…however microscopic…I think that is what makes a great film.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

Washington DC probably hosts the largest variety of film festivals/film screenings in the country….culturally…politically…socially. Old movie house are being salvaged. New movie houses are being constructed. Film Festivals that were defunct are being resurrected. The DC film office has been making strides over the years. The film scene is vibrant, growing and ever present. There are over 100+ film festivals in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area with stellar and diverse film screenings/events year round.

PHOTO: DC Shorts Screening in 2015. Photo courtesy of DC Shorts:

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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Jacques Paisner (Santa Fe Independent Film Festival)

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival was named Moviemaker Magazine’s “50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2014 & 2015”. Santa Fe Independent Film Festival is invested in Santa Fe as a destination for film. Bringing cutting edge programming, the latest independent films and directors, Native cinema, New Mexico and Student films, and masters discussions with visiting artists and professionals in their field, all in the setting of downtown Santa Fe.

Interview with Festival Director Jacques Paisner:

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

Jacques Paisner: While exposing their pictures to a discriminating and unique audience here in Santa Fe, filmmakers also get accommodations, chances to interact with celebrity guests, and peerless artists, plus access to all films and events at the festival, and place in a highly selective program amongst the best international and independent films of the year each season.

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

Jacques: You can expect exciting world cinema, top independent films, flawless projection in a little city with some of the best theaters in the world. You can attend epic parties, and rub elbows with people like Shirley Maclaine , And George RR Martin, and even the legendary Gena Rowlands. 
Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films? 

Jacques: We’re really looking for films that tell a unique story, a film that invites you into a world all its own, captivating films from all over the world that push the boundaries of the imagination, that are on the cutting edge of what a film is or what a narrative is or what a documentary is, films that reinvent the genre, or more importantly allow an artistic medium to come face to face with itself.
Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Jacques: There are some very good films every year, and there are many not very good films every year, and the same goes for festivals. There are some really good ones that put a lot of time and attention and professional efforts into their programs, and there are some really bad ones too.

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

Jacques: Well I guess the first motivation is that it’s our job, but beyond that I think there’s a real sense of responsibility and purpose and decency that runs throughout the organization, with this greater common goal of Santa Fe as this Mecca for independent films and filmmakers. Our office is above the Jean Cocteau theater and George RR Martin is her landlord, and we have coffee and pizza, young interns, and really spend a lot of time talking about movies,  so it’s fun work and I think there’s also a sense that what we’re doing is dynamic and important and cutting edge, and also sort of sticking it to the Man in a creative way.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception? 

Jacques: The festival started as a fringe fest in a community center, now the biggest festival film festival for hundreds of miles in every direction, with five theaters, over 10,000 attendees anuli annually, and called “a young Sundance” by IndieWire, The festival has grown into a top art event in Santa Fe.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020? 

Jacques: We would like to expand the attendance to about 50,000 people, with about 30,000 of those traveling here from out of town. We want Santa Fe to be a top destination for films and filmmakers and to host more and more screenings and more special events each season.

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

Jacques:I don’t think I’ve seen it the most times but I know I have seen “My Life as a Dog” many times.

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

Jacques: Orsen Welles said “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet” however, I think a film, or any piece of art, really succeeds or fails based upon the standards that it creates for itself.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Jacques: We are now one of the top movie theater cities on the planet with Violet Crown, the historic Lensic Performing Arts Center, George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema, the Center for Contemporary Arts programmed by “Sembene” director Jason Silverman, and The Screen at the Santa Fe University Film School chaired by Chris Eyre. 

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 Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Denise Gossett, Festival Founder/Director for the Shriekfest Film Festival

Heading into their 16th year, the Shriekfest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition is one of the top Horror Festivals in the world today. Founder Denise Gossett was voted number 5 out of 13 Most Influential Women In Horror History!

Go to the website and find out about the 2016 season.

I recently sat down with Denise Gossett to talk about her festival.

deniseMatthew Toffolo: Bottomline, what are you attempting to accomplish (and obviously succeeding at) with the Shriekfest Festival?

Denise Gossett: Well, my goal has always been to help get exposure for all of these talented filmmakers and writers that people may not know about. We are all about the indie filmmaker.

Matthew: Why do you think there is such large fan base for Horror Films? Why do so many people like being frightened and scared when watching something?

Denise: I think it’s the same reason people look at a car accident, we are curious, however, we like to experience it when it’s not a life or death situation..that’s where horror films come in. Being frightened is fun and exciting, it’s a visceral experience. Same reason people love roller coasters. The thrill of it all.

Matthew: What motivated you to start this festival?

Denise: I had starred in a horror film & realized that there weren’t any horror festivals in the U.S to help promote it, horror seems to be the ignored step child of the industry and I wanted to change that.

Matthew: What have you learned the most running a successful festival for over 16 years?

Denise: You have to be kind, you have to help people and you have to enjoy it and be passionate….these creatives are trusting me with their babies, whether it’s a script or a film, and I should treat that baby with the utmost care and love.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Denise: The main passion and caring has remained the same, of course, but, now we get submissions from every country out there, Shriekfest wins all kinds of awards, and we have regular fans that attend every year. Also, if you have a win at Shriekfest, it does seem to open doors for people.

Matthew: How many films do you anticipate showcasing at your 2016 Film Festival?

Denise: We will screen approximately 45 films!

Matthew: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect for the 2016 Festival?

Denise: Hmmm, we are discussing that right now….ways to make our “Sweet 16th” birthday extra special. New trophies, bigger, better parties, some new categories.

Matthew: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Denise: Oh goodness….well, I may not be running it by then. I am an actor as well and my career is really taking off and it’s making it very difficult for me to do both. We’ll see. 🙂 As long as Shriekfest is around, I will be involved in some way. It’s my baby and like I said earlier, I want it treated well. So, in 5 years, it will be extremely hard to get tickets to any of the screenings. How’s that? LOL

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

Denise: Grease 🙂 I was obsessed with it when I was younger.

Matthew: Is there a country that consistently makes great horror films that you show at your festival year after year?

Denise: Spain really produces some amazing films.

Matthew: Has there ever been a case where a film that you watch that gets submitted to your festival is just too violent or just too gory?

Denise: Well, there are some, but I have an audience that loves that stuff, so, it doesn’t affect decisions.

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

Denise: A great horror film has a great story with some new or unique ideas, great acting, great filming, great sound, great editing, basically, a complete package.

Thank you so much for the interview. I’m honored.

* * * *

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the festival director for the WILDsound Film & Writing 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.

Movie Review: THE LAST POST (Award Winning Short Film) 2015

THE LAST POST played to rave reviews at the November 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

  MOVIE POSTERTHE LAST POST, 15min, UK, Comedy/Social Media
Directed by Adam Preston

A halfwit is invited to speak at the funeral of a girl he only knew through the internet.

Review of the Short Film by Amanda Lomonaco:

Hilariously cringe-worthy. There’s no other way to describe this one. We all now a girl like her; updating her social media constantly, her life seems near perfect, everything she does is amazing, and fun, everything she eats is delicious, and if you wanted you could find out everything about her. Well, almost everything. As we all know social media and online profiles only give us little peeks into a person’s life. No matter how often you update it, how much content you add to it, it’s hard to know the real truth of who a person really is purely through their social media profiles.

Adam Preston has somehow managed to perfectly balance the tragedy and comedy of our excessively interconnected lives. Using the knowledge you can typically gather from a person’s social media accounts Preston writes a hysterical eulogy for one such social media star. This is certainly one film where credit needs to be highly awarded for performance. The Last Post’s main character had me tearing up with laughter non-stop.

Admittedly Preston could have added to the comedic value of his short by having the funeral attendants accept the eulogy as a sincere tribute to the deceased. Nevertheless his actual choice of direction didn’t  detract from the hilarity in any way. I also feel obliged to question Preston’s choice of the social class of the deceased and her family. It seems a little reductionist to have her and her family be from a region with a certain reputation for ignorance, simplicity, and poverty. It might have been a little more interesting if they had been from a posh family. However, part of the reason for this could have been to increase the threatening demeanor of the two bully brothers.

The Last Post is more than just a hilarious short film; it’s a commentary on today’s modern, digitally centered society. I had a very odd feeling as soon as the film was over because after having laughed the entire way through the film, I found myself pondreing deeper issues as soon as it was over. Comedy is for everyone, and comedy that is pertinent to current issues is all the more worth it. It kind of suits all flavour preferences; if you’re up for something more serious, this movie will work for you, if you’re up for a good laugh, add this to your list, heck it even has a little violence if that’s your cup of tea! I think you can see where I’m going with this one. Definitely give The Last Post a watch, whatever your inclination. It will be worth it.