Nashville Film Festival 2015: Days 4 - 6
My coverage of the 2015 Nashville Film Festival continues as I check out more selections from the Graveyard Shift horror movie line-up. The series is compiled of nine feature films and twelve shorts.
Sufferland (screened with the short films Daddy's Little Girl, Anal Juice, and Larry Gone Demon)
Fans of the band Linear Downfall will definitely want to look for their feature film Sufferland (61 minutes). This is an experimental picture that places as much emphasis on the audio elements as it does the video. The piece has virtually no dialogue and plays as a stream-of-consciousness nightmare filled with images both beautiful and grotesque. I can say with absolute certainty that this is not a movie for everyone. Some will laud it as a deeply thoughtful reflection on the torments of an emotionally distraught individual while others will dismiss it as an annoying noise-fest. While it wasn't exactly my thing, I can appreciate the tone the filmmakers were going for. I will not compare it to other eccentric artists, but suffice it to say that audience response was decidedly mixed.
Director Chad McClarnon's short film Daddy's Little Girl (5 minutes) played before Sufferland and was the one misfire in the collection. The problem with this piece is that there is no story, just an idea for one. The entire film is one scene that is over before it starts. A five-minute experience should not include over three minutes of credits. I found this frustrating, as it is a clever idea but a wasted opportunity. My opinion on this, however, is in the extreme minority, as this won the Tennessee Horizon Audience Award for Best Short Film.
Two additional short films ran before Sufferland. The first is an animated Japanese music video called Anal Juice (3 minutes). The title is understandably provocative, but the piece is surprisingly adorable. Larry Gone Demon (14 minutes) is a wacky film written and directed by Matt Lawrence about three roommates addressing the bizarre behavior of a fourth. Larry has apparently been possessed by a demon; hence the title. Wacky toilet humor fun, geared towards fans of the Troma style of filmmaking (i.e., more is more).
In addition to the horror films, I was able to check out the French mini-series L'il Quinquin, the disturbing murder mystery I initially wrote about here.
Daddy's Little Girl | Anal Juice | Larry Gone Demon
They Look Like People (screened with the short film Dead Hearts)
When your best friend shows up on your doorstep asking for help, you give it to him, right? The limits of trust, loyalty and friendship are tested when an element of schizophrenia is introduced into the mix in They Look Like People (80 minutes), written and directed by Perry Blackshear. Macleod Andrews stars as Wyatt, the troubled man hearing voices that warn of an impending apocalypse. Evan Dumouchel is Christian, the good man trying to help a friend in need, and if possible, ask out his co-worker Mara, played by the delightful Margaret Ying Drake. I did not know anything about this film ahead of time and was caught off guard by it. The idea is simple and well-executed, which is a testament to the writing. It would be easy to focus all of the energy on the schizophrenic and allow the supporting roles to fall into his shadow, but Blackshear allows the actors the chance to shine in their well-developed roles. Macleod Andrews downplays the illness and never goes over-the-top crazy and the performance is all the better for it. They Look Like People won two awards at the Nashville Film Festival, including the Graveyard Shift's Grand Jury prize for Best Actor (Macleod Andrews). The film tied for the category's award for Best Picture with Alléluia (more on this title in part three of my report).
They Look Like People is currently seeking distribution, but check out the official website for additional information on where you can catch it at other festivals. Following the Nashville screening, I recorded a Q&A with stars Evan Dumouchel and Margaret Ying Drake that I will be posting shortly.
The feature was preceded by the wonderful short film Dead Hearts (17 minutes), the tale of a young mortician willing to give his heart away for true love. Directed by Stephen W. Martin, this charming story is presented in the style of a Wes Anderson picture.
In addition to the horror flicks, I was able to catch Stanley Nelson's excellent documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of The Revolution (113 minutes). This was one of my more highly anticipated films and I was in no way disappointed. There is little doubt that a solid distribution deal is just around the corner, so keep an eye out. Until then, visit the official website and check out the trailer.
Dead Hearts | The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Felt (screened with the short films Good Samaritan and Alone)
Director Jason Banker (Toad Road) has created quite an interesting film with Felt (80 minutes). The picture stars the amazing Amy Everson in a strong debut as Amy, a reclusive artist with a penchant for dressing in unique wardrobe creations. She is an emotionally damaged heroine trying to overcome her issues with men and is reluctant to give her trust lightly. Amy meets a seemingly nice guy and lets her guard down long enough to get caught up in the promise of a happier existence, but life has a way of crapping on such brighter moments. Things take a dark turn and quickly spiral out of control as Amy begins to doubt her happiness and things race to a shocking conclusion. Banker co-wrote the script with Everson and together they have crafted a tight story that unfolds at a slow burn, but never loses sight of where it is going. Amy Everson won the Graveyard Shift's Grand Jury prize for Best Actress. Felt has been picked up for distribution by Amplify and will hit theaters this spring.
The feature was joined by a pair of short films, both dealing with agoraphobia. First up, Good Samaritan (12 minutes) from writer/ director Jeffrey Reddick (co-creator of Final Destination) tells the story of a man who cannot leave his apartment but records a crime from his window. He is taken to task by the media (Rainn Wilson) for not reporting the event at the time and haunted by the ghost of the victim. Creepy and effective. Reddick should direct more often.
The next short is Alone (10 minutes), a French thriller written and directed by Dieder Philippe about a woman named Claire who may be trapped in her apartment with a murderer. Philippe generates maximum suspense in a minimum running time. This film is extremely satisfying and very well made. Alone is the winner of the Graveyard Shift's Grand Jury prize for Best Short Film.
Good Samaritan | Alone
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