Film Review: THE FRUIT MACHINE (Canada, LGBT/Drama)

Review by Kierston Drier

Based on true historical events that played out during the cold war in Canada, FRUIT MACHINE, directed by Omer Khan and written by Tavish Gudgeon, is a strong and compelling piece about social mores, and the epic divide between our love for our country, and our love for each other. Against the backdrop of war and the social stigma of homosexaulity, our hero, Marleau  is forced to submit to a bizarre and brutal test called “The Fruit Machine” but it forces him to recount the warm, and also painful memories of his relationship with Sam- who enlisted before him.

 

And although Marleau doesn’t want him to go, Sam is committed to serve his country. But when Sam returns to find Marleau in the arms of a woman their relationship and communication comes to an abrupt stop. Marleau is tormented by the one-who-got-away, and whatever happened to him.

 

For a film so short, it captures with strikingly articulate pain the sense of tragedy and pride in the hearts of young men going to war. But underneath that age-old story is something even more emotionally compelling- the love between two people who must hide their feelings for each other and when they are ripped apart, they are not even given the courtesy to mourn the loss of that love- as it is forbidden. Beautifully shot, exceptionally well casted and compellingly written and performed, THE FRUIT MACHINE is an engaging and dramatic performance. A brilliant retelling of a disturbing part of Canadian history, but story worth hearing at all costs.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

THE FRUIT MACHINE, 16min., Canada, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Omer KhanDuring the 1950’s and 60’s, at the height of the Cold War, the Canadian government was doing everything it could to gain an advantage. Major shifts were happening within the RCMP, military, and civil services. A device was introduced to test the stress levels of workers by measuring pupillary response to certain images. This device was called: The Fruit Machine.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Film Review: BE THE ONE, Switzerland, Crime/Music Video

A five minute  experimental music video from Switzerland, BE THE ONE is a strongly visual and deeply gritty crime-centric piece. Two charismatic robbers enter a strip club to do a deal and must face a host of equally rough-and-tumble archetypes along the way.

Powerfully cinematic with its style and approach, this music video boasts a high production value and strong artistic license. Laced with nuance, it is worth watching twice to catch the small details that pull the piece together. As with many music videos, the cinematic story itself is highly dependant on the musical component, but the visual work in BE THE ONE compliments the musical score extremely well.  A strong, emotional musical piece paired with strong emotional visuals makes a powerful experimental film that is satisfying on many levels. A rollercoaster joy ride of bad-boy wish-fulfillment, BE THE ONE is an escapist fantasy.  

Review by Kierston Drier

PLAYED at the January 2018 EUROPEAN Film Festival.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

BE THE ONE, 5min., Switzerland, Crime/Music Video
Directed by Remo Fritzsche Two charismatic robbers face a variety of strong stereotypes and a major twist while attempting to obtain a mysterious bag from their adversaries.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: DEAR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, UK, Documentary/War

Riveting, impactful, emotional and honest, DEAR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY is hard-hitting and compelling look at the international crisis affected refugees in the middle east. Directed by filmmaker Henrik Friis, this film is a brave look at the front lines of the international conflict happening in our world.

In an age flooded with news and information, it is easy to get lost in the conflicts of others and it is hard to resist the urge to pull the blinds from conflicts that do not affect us. Until, that is, we realize that we are all connected.

A bold statement on poverty, humanity and staying awake and informed, DEAR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY is a call-to-action, and an appeal to lend out our hands to other humans in need. A strong piece to be seen, well done to Henrik Friis.

Review by Kierston Drier

PLAYED at the January 2018 EUROPEAN Film Festival.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

DEAR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, 4min., UK, Documentary/War
Directed by Henrik Friis After travelling to the frontlines of Iraq and the border of Syria for the past several years documenting the war against ISIS, ‘Dear International Community’ is a short video documenting the hundreds of encounters we’ve had across Europe and Iraq.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: OUR WONDERFUL NATURE, Germany, Animation

Like staring at a big bowl of candy, this film offers joy, delight and enthusiasm. OUR WONDERFUL NATURE is a three minute German animation in a mock-documentary style about the ravenous and foolhardy cameleon.

Brimming with physical comedy, polished images and laugh-out-loud moments, OUR WONDERFUL NATURE is packed with lush humour and frame-by-frame comedy. A film to engage and delight every viewer, this piece is like eating a huge slice of cake! Thankfully for the viewer, our eyes aren’t going to be too big for our stomach- the same can’t be said for our dear Chameleon.

Review by Kierston Drier

PLAYED at the January 2018 EUROPEAN Film Festival.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

OUR WONDERFUL NATURE, 3min., Germany, Animation
Directed by Tomer EshedThe feeding habits of the common cameleon as never seen before.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY (Austria, Drama/Family)

A strong and daring film by directed Patrick Vollrath, EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY is the story of a divorced father who takes his daughter Lea away for the weekend. Except he’s not just taking her away for the weekend.

What seems like a normal day of toy shopping, lunch and the fair, turns more sinister as the father rushes Lea to an emergency passport office and then sells his car. Told through the child’s point of view, it’s not totally clear what is going on, until the two reach the airport and book an international flight.

Our young heroine isn’t sure what to do, but tries her best to tell her father she doesn’t want to go anywhere but home, but this father is determined.

What is exceptional about this film is the slow build of fear and danger that simmers itself into a rolling boil. The slow burn of this piece will have you on the edge of your seat, especially when the flight is delayed and our pair are sent to a hotel.

 

EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY is tense and compelling. But it is also heartbreaking. It is the story of a tormented father desperate not to be torn apart from his child, and his selfish and terrifying decisions to try to keep her in his life.

A powerful and dramatic story with exceptional performances and brilliant execution, EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY is a film not to miss.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY, 30min., Austria, Drama/Thriller
Directed by Patrick VollrathA divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter Lea. It seems pretty much like every second weekend, but after a while Lea can’t help feeling that something isn’t right. So begins a fateful journey.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: EGGS AND SOLDIERS (USA, Drama/Family)

Directed by Imelda O’Reilly, this twenty-minute American film follows the story of a single Irish father and his two children on Christmas. Having smuggled his younger son, Marco away from his mother on Christmas Eve to spare him from that abusive home, he goes out drinking and leaves his elder son, teenage Ned, in charge of babysitting. Treeless and foodless on Christmas, Ned tries to watch his little brother and calm his own personal love life at the same time.

When Ned leaves to get groceries to cook dinner for Marco, he finds his dad drinking in a bar and confronts him and things get ugly. When the father finally returns home drunk and kicks Ned out, Ned decides to make sure Marco’s Christmas won’t be ruined.

 

This is a difficult and complex story of family. It paints complex characters with flaws and compassion. Marco and Ned’s father is abusive and alcoholic, but also attempted to save them both from more abusive home-lives than the one he provides. Marco and Ned, it seems, are simply swapped from one bad situation to another. Yet in the middle of this dark and dangerous world the two brothers manage to create a happy holiday together. EGGS AND SOLDIERS is a story that reminds us that happiness is not a privilege reserved only for the wealthy and affluent. Joy, love and goodwill towards your fellow human are things that transcend race, bloodline, economy. “Family” is something found in every home where love lives.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

EGGS AND SOLDIERS, 20min., USA, Drama/Family
Directed by Imelda O’ReillyA single Irish Dad forgets the tree on christmas eve. Ned the older son’s humanity is challenged when he risks everything to give his younger brother Marco a real Irish Christmas.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: EDEN HOSTEL (Spain, Comedy)

This fourteen minute comedy hailing from Spain by director Gonzaga manso, tells the story of a slightly tacky Virgin Mary wall hanging that hangs above a bed in a Spanish Hostel. Sweet, innocent and non-judgemental, our figurine recounts the most important moments of her time there. Such as watching a suicidal man and a prostitute with bad timing, fall in love. With gentle nudges that may be God, fate or fantasy, our heroine sees the world with simplicity and love, kindness and, above all else, compassion for those who sleep below her.

This fly-on-the-wall style narrative opens up many options for a story set in a hostel and we are delighted with colourful characters, thoughtful moments and snapshots of people in their lives. Much like the Heroine wall-hanging, we only ever see snippets of the lives of the hostel guests- and never the endings. Yet, using this narrative we are able to draw together meaning from each vignette- and the natural sweetness of our hero makes her capable of seeing the best in everyone.

What we get from watching EDEN HOSTEL is the knowledge that, deep down, we are all the same. Our characters might be different, but we all go through similar plot points. If we remember how similar we all really are, perhaps our endings, our beginnings, and our middles, will be more filled with love and happiness.

PLAYED at the January 2018 Comedy/Drama Festival. 

Review by Kierston Drier

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

EDEN HOSTEL, 14min., Spain, Comedy/Drama
Directed by Gonzaga MansoThe Eden Hostel is a humble and dirty place run by an elderly couple. Hanging from the wall of one of its rooms there?s a statue of the Virgin Mary who narrates, from her peculiar point of view, the stories of the various guests who stayed there through the years. One of those stories, the one of Yolanda and Felix, will make a huge impact on her.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!