#WSIFF: Reviews to Use & Help Choose, pt 2.


The White Sands International Film Festival begins on September 4, 2013. With a full schedule “packed with some of the most engaging, amazing and intriguing features, short films and documentaries anywhere” here is the SECOND of several like posts full of reviews to help attendees plan the most advantageous viewing schedule. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE.

Between now and the festival, several more reviews will publish. Keep a lookout and prepare for the upcoming exciting cinematic festivities.wsiff

As a reminder: All films for the White Sands International Film Festival here are rated on a simple 5-star rating.

Each star is given based on the following:

  1. Original story/Presentation
  2. Acting/Authentic Characters
  3. Cinematography/Audio/Special Effects
  4. Look & Feel/Storytelling
  5. Entertainment/Unpredictability

Disclaimer– reviews are solely and independently my own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of the WSIFF board, judges, participants and viewers (or anyone else for that matter).


WSIFF Reviews: Round 2

>>>>> For previously posted reviews for official selections of the WSIFF, please visit HERE.

Submit the Documentary: The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying

Category: Documentary. (IMDB page) (Trailer)cyberbullying

A sobering and somber view into the real world of cyberbullying. This documentary poignantly presents the dangers and reality of cyberbullying and the sad outcome of ignoring this powerful not-so-silent enemy fighting against America’s youth. Sylistically reminiscent of the documentary Waiting for Superman, this film focuses on school-age kids and the detrimental deadly effects of what they face both inside and outside of the walls of their schools.

With a heightened sense of urgency to warn other parents and concerned citizens, Submit the Documentary gets its points across and does not shy away from its methodology of using sad, yet true, stories of victims whose experiences of cyberbullying ended tragically. The emotional impact of the stories shared are certain and not to be overlooked as this docu-drama’s message seeks to encourage preventative action in order to keep these horrors from taking place in the lives of our children.

Mainly focusing on just the victims of cyberbullying, the documentary perhaps may have benefited or helped by showing/sharing the stories of a few of the bullies themselves (their background, their lives, etc.) to present another way to prevent bullying by being able to recognize the signs and help them too. While rather informative and insightful, it also comes across as a tad heavy and hard-fought.

Cyberbullying will continue, but so must the never-ending battle against it. That being said, this documentary is unexpectedly enlightening and remains a helpful tool for parents, school administrators/instructors and children to see. Several real stories are shared and relay the fact that bullying does not just impact the sole subject of rude ridicule…it impacts all of us.

I encourage parents to watch this with their school-age children.

My score:star3.5

Submit the Documentary: The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 10am on Thursday, September 5th.


Come Morning

Category: Feature. (IMDB page) (Trailer)comemorning

A story set in 1973 features a young boy and his grandpa on a hunting excursion that turns out worse than anticipated and unearths a history full of family feuds and land disputes. As the boy, known as “D,” works alongside his grandpa in the backwoods of Arkansas he finds his unplanned and fast-track adventure to be darker and more dangerous than expected. The cast, well-suited for the parts, play in the roles sufficiently enough, however, there is little about that characters that begs for attachment or deep connection with any of them.

As D and his grandpa work through the night making decisions between right and wrong (at times unable to tell the difference), they wait for morning to come to shed light on their dilemma. Only…morning takes too long to come. Flashbacks attempt to tell a back story but lend to linear confusion overall and add to the tedious lengthiness of the film with a pace that is already trying and slow.

Come Morning had greater potential with its overall premise and coming of age story for D. Moments of action and loud gunfire will startle viewers out of boredom during the slow and quiet parts. My interest was lost at times as it is incredibly difficult to stay focused on the dialogue as the audio editing is severely uneven. A long drawn-out story with more to offer that suffers due to overall editing and focus.

For me…Morning took too long to come.

My score:star

Come Morning is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 1:30pm on Thursday, September 5th.


7 Lives of Chance

Category: Feature. (IMDB page) (Trailer)7 lives of chance

Whimsical, quirky, artsy and reminiscent of Woody Allen’s style of storytelling, 7 Lives of Chance is a unique philosophical look at life, its encounters of chance and its entangling attraction to death. 7lives


Told through the lens of a woman by the name of Chance (who may remind viewers of a certain Bridget Jones who wrote a diary), the story here is told in a fashion that, like a balloon tethered to the wrist of a youngster, carries several elements crucial to the film’s message all the way throughout from beginning to end.

Due to the initial randomness (including the continual inserted static character stated facts, definitions and statistics in a rather cold and scientific matter related to the events taking place) and the Woody Allenesque feel of the film (complete with French influences and accordion music), my initial thoughts were one of apprehension that the 116 minutes of watching would result in a gimmicky attempt at a story that lost my interest from the title screen.7lives (1)

I was wrong.

Admittedly, it took a few minutes to truly understand the plot of the film and what I was expected to anticipate from the film. (It has its moments of surprises and shocks, including one that made me sit up and yell in utter surprise at an event that takes place about 30 minutes in.) But, once I started to understand where the quirkiness was leading, I found myself interested in Chance and her story…plus, she has this odd appreciation (fetish?) for balloons!

Is it a film that all will enjoy? Since it is not “conventional” the answer is probably “no.” But that is most unfortunate. The unique presentation shows the reality and randomness of death as also quite natural and non-discriminatory. 7 Lives of Chance demonstrates how we as humans attempt to deny and defy death but, in a fun manner, shows how it is as naturally a part of life as life itself. How we deal with it, hold on to it, let go of it, etc, is a whole different story. And thus begins the 7 Lives of Chance…and my avoidance of any and all balloons. 🙂

Full of euphemisms and entertaining/effective gimmicks, 7 Lives of Chance excels in giving inanimate objects purpose, tying elements of the story together throughout (phrases like “I look like death.”, objects such as a red balloon, the same musical theme playing throughout, etc) and showing the effects of obsessive/possessive behavior in worrying over the inevitable. A sleeper surprise that is smartly executed and ends in a satisfying way with closure.

My score:star4

7 Lives of Chance is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 8:30 pm on Thursday, September 5th.


Buck Wild

Category: Feature. (IMDB page) (Trailer)Buck-Wild-Poster-438x650

Filmed in a cult-classic style, this horror parody is full of the staple characters, scenarios and humor as others in its genre. Buck Wild is a zombie-type film that pokes fun at its category with plenty of blood and bullets along the way. Not taking itself too seriously, it tells a tale of four friends on a hunting trip that, of course, turns out to be much more adventurous than expected. As the hunters become the hunted, the friends find themselves surrounded by dangerous animals and strangely behaving characters in this film that is an interesting blend of American Pie, ZombielandShaun of the Dead and perhaps even a bit of Super Troopers (comparatively speaking, that is).

Backwoods comedy through calamity and courage, Buck Wild brings the viewer along for a crazy adventure full of cliché violence, crazy characters and hilariously placed one-liners. While at times straying of course, Buck Wild attempts to blend fact with fiction and urban legend with utter nonsense and earns itself a spot in the “hopeful future cult-classic collection category.” If this sounds like your cup of tea, then…go buck wild. For myself, personally, this film looks as if it was more fun to make than it was to watch, but others will undoubtedly find something to enjoy.

My score:star2

Buck Wild is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 3:30pm on Thursday, September 5th.



Category: Student Short. (IMDB page)cupid

Many short films tell a tale of Cupid, the lonely matchmaker, and his own quest for true love. This one, brought by animator Emily Unruh shares a look at Cupid and his journey to love and finding out the true meaning of it in its most sincere form..found and fought for as opposed to forced.

A cute tale told without a single word uttered, the would-be bringer of love learns a valuable lesson in his own specialty and its telling is simple and entertaining. With fantastic work in portraying emotion and meaning through drawn expressions and gestures, Unruh accomplishes what several multi-million dollar studios still fail in at times. Perhaps a bit too simplistic, the animation still serves as a backdrop allowing for the focus to lie on the story itself. A delightful short that will remind viewers of the style of the highly popularized Pixar shorts mixed with the animation of beloved modern films such as A Cat in Paris and The Illusionist.

My score:star3

Cupid is scheduled to play in the Student Short segment of the WSIFF at 9:30am on Thursday, September 5th.


The K Effect: Stalin’s Editor

Category: Feature. (IMDB page) (Trailer)k effect

A film made in Spain that uniquely blends historical footage and documentation with historical fiction to tell its story. From the director Valentí Figueres himself, here is the film’s synopsis:

A fiction film made with fragments of reality. An historical documentary made by cogging fictional elements. This is the odyssey of those who dared dreaming and were devoured by their dreams. An adventure into the origins of cinema and utopias, an historical road movie. The K Effect recounts Maxime’s passionate life during the 20th century: a century shaken by fascinating utopias that spawned cheerful dreams and dreadful nightmares. Lights and shadows. The great metaphor of cinema. -IMDB

An interesting concept beautifully told that reminded me of Forrest Gump in the way in which it infuses the character and his story into the real-life events that took place over the period of war (only not as visually). Told completely in Spanish, accompanied by subtitles, it does make for a tougher viewing with a runtime of 130 minutes of reading and fluctuating back and forth between found war footage and the narrative story.

The world of espionage is always captivating to audiences and this one tells quite a tale. Long as it may be. Its tribute to filmmaking is to be appreciated as it is the main dream and passion of the protagonist and serves as the continual thread through his career as an “editor” for USSR leader Joseph Stalin.

Patience is necessary to watch through this film, interesting as it is. Those with a love of history may still find completing this personal tale of love and war a challenge. Ultimately, in the end, the blend of fiction and fact still falls short as the film gives glimpses yet few reasons to care for the events taking place in the lives of the main character. Many different clever inclusions to sell the idea of authenticity (the use of shadows on a wall to portray a clandestine “real” conversation between Stalin and the main character) add to the film’s interest, but overall it remains less than stellar.

Side note: With 7 Award wins and 9 Award nominations to date from other Film Festivals (according to the IMDB page), I stand in the minority, it seems, on this film.

My score:star

The K Effect: Stalin’s Editor is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 10am on Saturday, September 7th.


The White Sands International Film Festival looks to offer some fantastic viewing experiences this year. Stay tuned for even more reviews and spotlights. September 4th-8th approaches quickly and I can’t wait.

Remember: For my full coverage and listing of all films reviewed, movie spotlights, photos, interviews and more, be sure to click (and visit often) the tab at the top of the screen entitled “2013 White Sands International Film Festival Coverage” for quick links to every post about WSIFF. OR, you can visit WSIFF.COM and click the link referring you to the “Official Blogger for 2013 WSIFF.”

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”


  1. Great stuff T! Submit the Doc official Twitter is following me but I didn’t know what the film was about until I read this. Cyberbullying is such a heartbreaking topic, it was touched upon in Disconnect which I saw in a MSP film fest earlier this year. Curious about 7 Lives of Chance as well, but will avoid the 1-star ones, ahah.


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