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 THIRD 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.
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:
- Original story/Presentation
- Acting/Authentic Characters
- Cinematography/Audio/Special Effects
- Look & Feel/Storytelling
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 3
>>>>> For previously posted reviews for official selections of the WSIFF, please visit HERE.
Canadian writer/director Shelagh Carter’s debut full-length feature set in 1962 suburbia dramatically tells a story of a mother with unbalanced affections and sexual prowess/desires and her young school-aged daughter who grows up observing her mother’s instability and the power of her behaviors.
Taking an important and truthful look at a type of abuse stemming from mental instabilities and insecurities, Passionflower passionately presents a family’s struggle in a bold, realistic and personal fashion. A story of innocence lost and a man/husband/father trying to restore it.
Sufferers of family discord are never solo. Passionflower tells such a story and shows the impact of such a private trial through the eyes of a young girl hoping for love from the mother she looks to and never receives it from. Tough at times to watch (and meant to be so), the film’s narrative is important, serious, personal and powerful.
Passionflower is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 230pm on Thursday, September 5th.
Telling a story in a world in which women are traditionally the prominent gender throughout all of history (mentions of an Elivira Presley, Abigail Lincoln, Nellie Armstrong, etc), a young man hopes to accomplish dreams and aspirations not usually afforded to the males of humanity. In the style of Easy A that starred Emma Stone, the main character Josh, a 17-year old in highschool, shares his hopes of overcoming the oppression and dominance of women as the superior gender of the species and shares his plans and journey to hopefully accomplish this via self-recording videos.
An interesting twist that plays on the typical vehicle of role-reversals, Upside Down presents a different and off-setting yet comical look at this outlandish proposal, all the while, serving as a social commentary. Funny and spot on at times it also tends to be typical and go nowhere and, in that sense, seemingly loses direction and tells a story with no true overall purpose other than entertaining the sexes.
Not groundbreakingly imaginative, this comedic commentary turns the world upside down, shakes things up and takes you along for a ride that may make you thankful it may be considered an alternate non-reality.
Upside Down is scheduled to play in the Student Short segment of the WSIFF at 2pm on Friday, September 6th.
The Wonderland Express
A blending of socially awkward character types, a science fiction element reminiscent of the film “Safety Not Guaranteed” and a story that seems more random that realistic, The Wonderland Express is, initially, a bit odd. Confusion mixed with the crazy and curious characters make it quirky and questionable.
A somewhat disjointed, pseudo-documentary style with multiple interviews following a man, insecure, trying to find how he fits in and contributes to life in the world. He finds meaning through his friends after taking a garage door opener and empowering it to transport others to another dimension, if you will, after placing instructions on it with a label maker. His friends, socially awkward as well, then flock to him to use and reuse the portal…the key…to a place where they desire to be. Like a drug, it consumes them all the while he avoids using it himself.
Paranoia, conspiracies, sanity, relevancy and more are questioned throughout as the understood and misunderstood direct the characters’ actions. Slowly, curiosity keeps you watching in hopes of finally understanding what is really going on and if it’s really happening. The Wonderland Express looks at life through multiple lenses and tells about it through monologues and soliloquies of self-affirmation. Though difficult to get through at times with its slow pacing and odd characters, I actually got to a point near the end in which I cared about the main character, his journey and his sense of responsibility and loss. While it draws you in at the end, the journey there through the minds of the character is less than accommodating. Not all will want aboard the wonderland express, but some will enjoy the ride.
The Wonderland Express is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 2:30 pm on Thursday, September 5th.
A struggling actor sets out on a series of auditions with the help of a cultish workshop and finds less than desirable results in his career. A man who begins with a slight chance of hope is pushed to the edge when things do not seem to be going so “ok” and “good.”
Working to do all that he can to pass auditions and find work, the main character Paul attends movement classes, sends out headshots and goes through a series of random events that appear odd, abrupt and awkward when put together. One interview after another yielding similar results and further demoralization pushes Paul to the limits in an audition that leads to a surprise for all, including himself.
Full of moments, characters and acting that appear odd and ridiculous, Ok, Good is essentially a one-man show that presents a man’s frustration that may mirror the viewers’ while watching but leads to an explosive, albeit somewhat expected ending. When said and done, some may say it was “ok” and “good” while others may say the same upon seeing the film end.
Ok, Good is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 12 Noon on Friday, September 6th.
Category: Student Short. (IMDB page)
By the same director of the student short listed above entitled Upside Down (Sharon Waich B.), Manly Advice shares the awkwardness of a young man’s trip to a pharmacy to purchase a box of condoms. Exploring the scenario and its aftermath in the most hilarious and twisted way when the young man’s purchase from a pushy pharmacist turns out to be more than he bargained for. He soon discovers the pharmacist full of recommendations and manly advice on how to treat his woman is none other than his girlfriend’s father!
When the father realizes this at a scheduled dinner later that evening, my oh my, how his tune has changed!
A student short with a fun story that will get several laughs in the young couple’s hopeful adventure in love. Although the acting and cinematography is overexaggerated, the effort put into the film make the story and its ending more enjoyable than initially expected. The film’s comedic take on the events in the film along with its “turnabout’s fair play” ending makes for a short that could be considered a rough adult-themed live-action Pixar short.
Manly Advice is scheduled to play in the Student Short segment of the WSIFF at 2pm on Friday, September 6th.
No One Knows
A film about secrets, No One Knows is a thought out look at the serious and very real issue of abuse in a home that goes both unnoticed and unrelinquished. Behind the mask of normalcy and religion (as is the case of most abuse), a young girl silently endures mistreatment and she carries the burden of its bruises…but not alone.
Open to interpretation, the subtle elements shown through dialogue and actions all point to the pain, so obvious, yet unknown to those not looking. The strong set of messages contained in this short range from the vices used to hide/justify abuse to the effects of action and inaction to the need to have no fear and the reality of the evil of abuse. The ending, that gave me a surprise and shock, is poignant and purposeful.
The ending, both abrupt and awakening, challenges viewers and powerfully presents the dangerous effects on the lives of victims of abuse (victims and effects that are both numerous). No One Knows tells that the serious impact of actions in secret are not so secret after-all…and could be happening closer to you than you think.
No One Knows is scheduled to play during the Student Short segment in the WSIFF at 2pm on Friday, September 6th.
A photographer, obsessed with his craft, finds it leading to his obsession over the image a girl in a photograph…except that girl is not his girlfriend whom he loves. A visually impressive style of storytelling that keeps you thinking about it long after the final photo is taken. I have watched this one numerous times and appreciated and understood it more each time.
Paired with beautiful imagery, music, narration and intriguing storylines, The Dress captivates the viewer with images of one half of a story while telling of another and ties both together in such an impressive fashion. Director Alvaro Congosto’s film entitled The Dress is open to several lines of interpretation that still tend to lead to the same conclusion and through one man’s fantasy we find reality in passions bringing pleasure more than passion itself. Superb casting and an unpredictable story that provokes further thought, contemplation and the desire to rewatch again and again.
Enjoy The Dress.
The Dress is scheduled to play in during the Narrative Short segment in the WSIFF at 9:30am on Thursday, September 5th. and at 10:00am on Sunday, September 8th.
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”