Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Birth of an Artist

Cerebral palsy is a hard and relentless disease, but one filmmaker has captured an astounding response to the severe physical limitations it imposes. Dasha is a girl who paints with her feet. Despite her difficult circumstances, her mind's eye sees nothing but life and beauty in the world, and her feet are enough under her control to render her visions into glorious artworks.

The Birth of an Artist is an astounding and unforgettable portrait of courage. Born in Ukraine and educated, in part, at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Graduate Film program, filmmaker Natasha Babenko is fascinated by duality, which in this case is her subject's "physical hardships intertwined with the beauty she expresses from within." But there is no duality for Babenko in terms of the merit of her film, because it is simply wonderful.

You can watch the trailer here: The Birth of an Artist Trailer

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Intersection

A down-and-out guy, single, with introspective eyes and a hardened pall of sadness, wanders back to the small town where he screwed up. He visits this place every year to the same, circular effect, but this time is different when he meets a ravishing young woman whose bright expressions say "it's ok, I admire you."

She can relate, and as mature adults they immediately seize the opportunity to bond with a kindred spirit, both knowing that getting to know someone better over a game of pool is just the kind of old school therapy they need.

But something else is happening here. Something darker, even dangerous, is lurking behind an otherwise refreshing tale of Americana. Director Tim French brings out outstanding performances in his lead actors Hoyt Richards and Annabella Casanova in an indie gem that will intrigue and rattle you.

Intersection is soaring on the festival circuit, and for good reason. You can watch the trailer here: Intersection Trailer

Monday, May 9, 2016

Two Weeks

In this touching, socially relevant short film, Australian student director Dani Bowen focuses her perceptive eyes on a teenage girl, Liz, whose mother just dropped a bombshell on the family—Mom is going to abandon them.

Liz is wounded and bewildered by the news and her father is none too keen on the idea, but there's little they can do since neither is the catalyst for the decision. Mom simply has other things to do with her life and has decided that leaving them will offer her a better chance for fulfillment.

Hence the social relevance. How many parents in this era of selfies and internet stardom will do what they feel like doing regardless of the consequence to other members of the family? Although the story is softly rendered and shows far more than it tells, Bowen reveals this dark aspect of the zeitgeist with remarkable intensity.  

You can watch the trailer here: Two Weeks Trailer

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Inertia

In this discomforting adaptation of Franz Kafka's Before the Law, a man stumbles upon a strange gate while hiking in the woods. The sentry standing guard won't let him through, forcing the traveler to stay the night while waiting for permission to pass. The longer he waits, the harder the uncertainty weighs on his psyche, which gets more fragile by the second. And minute. And hour.

How many days will he have to stay here? How many weeks? Months?

Years.

Will he ever, or never, be allowed to go? When the sameness of a barrier and a mental block is this acute—when a simple word of permission would be enough to change a man's mental state—a feeling of suspended animation begins to creep in.

Director Brian Lederman leads you to the brink in this modern interpretation of a classic. You can watch the trailer here: Inertia Trailer

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Apparition


If you're ready for a real scare, check out this unnerving, supernatural thriller by Bucks County filmmaker Guy Quigley.

The story takes place in an old farmhouse. Doug, a young man with a bright future ahead of him, suffers a terrible loss when his fiancé, Lori, is killed in an automobile accident. And it's entirely Doug's fault. Wracked with guilt, he retreats to the house, only to find he is far from alone.

Or is he? What is happening to his mind? With intelligence and masterful tension, Quigley unlocks one door after another, revealing through a horrifying labyrinth something profoundly disordered about Doug, who's still a tragic character in his own right because he so very much does not want to be insane.

Yet he is. You can watch the trailer here: Apparition Trailer

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dan Rather: Courage Under Fire

This galvanizing short documentary by award-winning director Manuel Ceniceros celebrates free speech and one of its ardent proponents, former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather. A resourceful blend of interview, biography, and personal testimony, this provocative film serves multiple purposes while working toward a single end: making the world a better place. Throughout his long journalism career, Dan Rather gave the phrase "courage under fire" a combination of literal and figurative meaning. Witness the footage of Rather in a Vietnam combat zone, calm and seemingly in his element, to gain insight into the type of man who would dare speak truth to power—a trait he asserts is lacking in his profession today.

The film also touches on his spectacular exit from CBS. In an interview clip, Rather points out that despite the accusations surrounding the Killian documents controversy, no one ever proved that the documents weren't real. And would-be deniers of the story's veracity were damagingly mute. One could ask whether the world became a better place when a storied and sometimes confrontational career ended over such murkiness, especially when the context of the backlash against him was so political.

But Rather's network television career did end, and online news and commentary exploded, and in this lightning fast, increasingly decentralized and interconnected world, journalists and ordinary citizens alike are charged with answering the questions raised by Rather, his interviewer Laurie Nadel, and Ceniceros. Who will speak truth to power? And what, exactly, is the truth?

You can watch the trailer here: Dan Rather: Courage Under Fire Trailer

Sunday, April 3, 2016

America is Still the Place

San Francisco, 1971. When two oil tankers collide at the epicenter of America's counterculture revolution, far more than two ships will clash. Leading the fight against environmental pollution and Big Oil power is an underdog hero, a black man with ambition who isn't going to let a little racism, or even a lot of it, stop him from building an empire. In a world where nothing is fair, everything is fair game.

Director Patrick Gilles, who earned his high school diploma at New Hope-Solebury High School, is refreshingly candid and insightful in this timely production. And the casting is superb. Lead actor Mike Colter delivers a powerful performance, playing the business savvy and aggression of waste king Charlie Walker with piercing yet melancholy eyes, while supporting actor Dylan Baker, the oil CEO, maintains just enough nervous edginess to make you question who is really playing whom. They square off well: amidst the manifest power imbalance and conflict, they are strangely, even addictively, interdependent.

America is Still the Place is a charged treatment of a politically sensitive topic, but it doesn't shrink from opportunities for humor, allowing just the measure of distance one needs for observation and reflection. You can watch the trailer here: America is Still the Place Trailer