Domingo - Erika Oregel
The most exciting thing about programming film festivals is getting to see filmmakers before they break. I have no doubt that the name Erika Oregel will be gigantic in her native Mexico, and quite possibly beyond. Her first narrative short, Domingo, is a lyrical masterpiece, full of grace and compassion that flows from every frame. This film is sparse, and deliberate, but it's also quite affecting. Oregel brings us the story of two women preparing to hear Mass, and the preparations that requires for them. The story could easily have turned emotionally manipulative, but this is far more powerful for the fact that it never demands we feel a certain way. It is a painting, full of creams, beiges, whites, and bone. It is a film that announces a bold new voice to narrative filmmaking, and one that I hope we hear much more from.
L'été Indien - Yanie Dupont-Hébert
Let me get it out of the way - Moonrise Kingdom is one of my favorite film. From the very beginning, L'été Indiene made me feel as if I was watching what would happen is Wes Anderson had been French (well, Quebecois...) and decided to make a film about a tortured childhood saved by another tortured childhood. Mike learns that he is adopted and is actually a Micmac and has to go into the forest to explore his heritage. Mirka is a romantic artist whose parent's divorce is crashing her world down around her. This is so Andersonian as to be nearly criminal, but director Yanie Dupont-Hebert manages to make so much more commentary in her piece that it feels more like the kind of cinema you'd see in a Cineclub of the 1960s and 70s. Mike has to reconnect with his roots, but has no clue what that means beyond the Westerns he's such a gigantic fan of. Mirka wants to give in to love fully, but is too young to truly understand what that means. It is a difficult position both these children are in, and they see their recent circumstances as the call to grow-up, but really, it's just a difficult moment they need to get through as children. That is a theme much more complex than anything Anderson has ever tackled, and it is so well-done, that I would say the next disaffected youth film I see is Dupont-Herbertian.
Lack of Cockery - Josh Mitchell
There are movies that are not made for certain people, that could not be appreciated no matter how good they are for one reason or another. There are other films that no matter how bad they are, you're gonna love 'em. Lack of Cockery is a film with a lot of problems, chief among them the pacing is weird, and some of the performances are rough, but the script is fun, the view of the LA and-or Silicon Valley lifestyle so in-tune with my personal experience, and the shooting is strong. Perhaps the scene that hit me the hardest was a stand-up bit in the first five minutes or so. It was delivered by a woman with a huge nasal accent, who had a certain quirky charm, talking about her lack of sexual experience. If you've been around the comedy world, especially among the post-Dane Cook era, you'll understand just how painfully accurate this performance is, and the line "I'm no Dr. Ruth, but I fantasize about bangin' her" is balls-out awesome. If you approach this cold, without the knowledge of that world, without having hung around with the Venture Capital set, without knowing the post-Factory indy art world, without having been to life/work/party spaces, you might not take it in, but for me, this was a film that perfectly captured those worlds. The fact they apparently made this for fifty grand when it looks like a million dollar picture is more impressive, but shooting with Black Magic'll do that for ya. You can learn more at http://www.breezewayproductions.com/index.html