Friday, November 11, 2011

Beneath the Earth Reviews.

As you all know, I was fortunate enough to be part of the Grand Jury of the Beneath the Earth Film Festival.
The official selection was comprised of some truly remarkable films made by people from all over the world.
My favorite entry in the official selection was the fast moving, excitingly melancholy It's Natural to Be Afraid, which deals with globalization, doomed love and is a hybrid between Tom Tykwer and Michel Gondry. You can watch this and all the other films here (but hurry, you have until 11/15)

As part of our work as jury members we all had to review the winning films, which I now present to you:

After Ever After - Winner of the Audience Award
Director: Jeff Pinilla

This tale of love gone wrong focuses on what happens after relationships end. In this case we follow young advertising creative Sidney Gamblin (gotta love the retro inspired name) as he goes through the phases of post-love grief. Done with extreme style and featuring a superb performance by Michael Furlong - perhaps the film's greatest asset - we witness a lovely story that feels urgent and very real. There is a dialogue exchange in a billiard room, which is captured with such care by director Pinilla, that you feel as if he's been poking around inside your memories. The film features a wonderful job of edition that focuses on both moments of extreme activity as well as more introspective scenes and Pinilla does an overall good job even if you get the feeling that he wanted to say much more than he could handle. The film could've done without a few minutes; even if it's quite short, sometimes its themes seem redundant, but Furlong is a joy to watch (talk about schadenfreude) and for all its flaws and slight stylistic incoherence the film results pleasing.

(Watch After Ever After here)

Photographs - Winner of the Best Film Award
Director: Brendan Clogher, Christina Manrique

The problem with Pixar is that they have spoiled us for most animated films out there. Such is the case when watching Photographs, the winner of this year's Best Film Award which seems merited but results slightly underwhelming when compared to other, more exciting work. Photographs tells the story of a lonely old lady who finds a photographic camera and proceeds to take mysterious pictures in different locations. It takes little imagination to figure out why she's doing it and perhaps the film relies too much on this eventual emotional revelation to maintain the audience captivated. Those who guess the twist in the first minute will then be showered with a series of pretty images that lead nowhere. The animation is indeed masterful and the score is gorgeous but the film's emotional payoff is directly connected to the viewer's ignorance of how dramatic structure works, or perhaps its joys are better reserved for those who are less cynical.

(Watch Photographs here)

Don't forget to share the films with your friends and family! As always, what's important is to get new filmmakers involved in the conversation!

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