Thursday, June 21, 2018

East Side Hero

The problem of gang violence in urban America is widely recognized, but adequate solutions for ending it have remained elusive. California filmmaker Daniel Osorio has cooked up a novel approach to reaching the people most at risk—the gang kids themselves—in East Side Hero, a social conscience film with a clearly stated mission of disrupting the generational cycle of violence among Latino communities in Northern California.

The film serves as a tool for teaching more positive decision-making skills, and I have no doubt this dramatic, true to life production will relate its ideas to youngsters in a way that lectures and dictates from adults will never quite achieve.

Osorio deserves an A+ for leading underserved young people in the right direction. You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion is advised): East Side Hero Trailer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Leaving Malcolm


In this touching and insightful student film, Malcolm Peters is a father struggling to correct the neglect he experienced as a child by being a better father for his own son. And the plan isn't working. His boy is transfixed on an imaginary friend, a spiritual barrier between father and son who engenders heated discussions between Malcolm and his wife. The family wants to connect but something unseen and unheard is standing in the way.

Student filmmaker Lucas Ruderman, who recently earned a Film Directing degree at Manhattanville College, co-wrote the script with his own mother, a detail that underscores the verisimilitude of his art. Set at Christmastime, the film maintains a dimly lit, spiritual feel throughout, and anyone who has dealt with family members who cannot click should find this film both familiar and immersive.

You can watch the trailer here: Leaving Malcolm Trailer

Monday, June 18, 2018

Anna

Anna is scraping by in New York to rid herself of a hard upbringing in communist Czechoslovakia. Working two menial jobs and relatively uneducated, the young woman faces precarious circumstances that worry her mother sick. Mom pleads with her to come home, but her grandfather's grinding experience under Soviet rule produces the opposite advice. He insists she should stay and get an education; it's the only way out.

She would do just that, too, but she has an additional hurdle to overcome. She needs to prove she's in the United States legally, and that is suddenly her biggest problem of all. Now she has two days either to firm up her paperwork or fly home to her mother.

Stories like Anna's are not uncommon in an era of inexpensive flights, rapidly improving technology and global economic expansion. The world is racing ahead at an exponential rate, fostering a dynamic whereby many people feel compelled to seek better opportunities abroad while others question how such migration should take place and at what pace. Anna is a good person in a tough situation, and there may be no clear answer for her in the short term.

This student film by Petra Priborska strikes a sympathetic chord on an intimate and humanitarian level. You can watch the trailer here: Anna Trailer

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fortune Defies Death

When the wealthy Woods family gathers at a cabin resort to hear the last will and testament of their ten-years-deceased patriarch, everyone is fighting for a share of the fortune. There is a scent of death in the air, too, and the lawyer charged with reading the will wants answers. The late George Woods's beloved, adopted daughter went missing a decade ago, compelling the estate to delay the reading of the will on the outside chance she would reemerge.

She did not. Now everyone in the family is suspected of murder. For excellent reason, too, when one of them is found dead at the resort. Who did it, and who will be next? With a greedy sister, two ambitious nephews, Woods's mistress, his missing daughter's husband and amnesiac granddaughter and an eccentric niece all in the mix—and none of them particularly like each other—the stage is set for an explosive revelation.

Director and writer Jennifer Hulum envisions a dizzying labyrinth in Fortune Defies Death, a film that requires intense concentration and focus to appreciate to its fullest. The players are smart, and treacherous, and often dangerous. And someone, somewhere, might slip up if the shrewd, old attorney gets his way.

You can watch the trailer here: Fortune Defies Death

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Doctor's Case

The Doctor's Case is a devilishly clever murder mystery that features British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Initially set in September 1940 when Watson is 87 years old, the story recounts a time when the detective duo needed to change roles in order to solve a particularly complex crime—a strange set of circumstances that threatened to drag Watson and Holmes themselves into the abyss.

A collaboration of many fine Canadian filmmakers, including co-directors James Douglas and Leonard Pearl, this nearly feature-length production hits all the right acrid and downright frightening notes for the genre. Based on a short story by Stephen King, the script is complex enough to evoke the experience of reading a good, old fashioned book, the kind that lends itself to a fireside read and a long, unnerving return to your darkened bedchamber.

You can watch the trailer here: The Doctor's Case Trailer

Friday, May 25, 2018

We Are Columbine

On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado experienced one of the most deadly school shootings in United States history. The incident shocked a country that could scarcely imagine the epidemic of teen violence it foreshadowed.

Filmmaker Laura Farber, a freelance producer with an impressive client roster that includes MSNBC, TLC, The Weather Channel, Discovery Channel, Discovery Health and History Channel, was one of the freshman students on that tragic day, and she has applied the full force of her experience in this jaw-dropping portrayal of what is was like to be one of those most unfortunate kids.

She tells her story through the voices of classmates and high school staff, and their collective trust is pivotal in making this such a staggering and insightful film. The former students are sometimes overwhelmed with emotion upon revisiting the school, as evidenced in the photo above, and you will be suitably moved.

You can watch the trailer here: We Are Columbine Trailer

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reconnected

A suburban professional devastates his family when he's caught cheating on his wife, but reconciliation will not be easy when his mother-in-law clearly sees the bad side of him. The elder lady Gloria, superbly played by Hollywood stalwart Barbara Bain, and troubled Bob, played by Robert Kerbeck, an award-winning author and actor who also happens to be a scion of Philadelphia's prominent Kerbeck family, square off in a high-stakes scene that leads to grave consequences.

And no clear answers. Now Mother is dead, Bob's wife Deb seems to accept his story, and a shadow of death looms over the family's future. A project of Tica Productions, this film was directed by S.J. Main and co-produced by Derek Classen.

You can watch the trailer here: Reconnected Teaser Trailer