#WSIFF: Reviews to Use & Help Choose, pt 5.


The White Sands International Film Festival begins (TODAY) 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 FIFTH of several like posts full of reviews to help attendees plan the most advantageous viewing schedule prior to the films starting on Thursday. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE. Get your tickets TODAY, HERE.

Between now and during the festival, several more reviews will publish. Keep a lookout and plan on being there for the 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 5

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

Mad Ship

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

Set during the time of the Great Depression, a Scandinavian immigrant and his family face the hardest of times in the Canadian prairie dust bowl. Facing foreclosure due to lack of payment derived from no rain to grow his crops, the husband goes off in search of work and returns to find his family in greater turmoil. Madness-driven, he embarks on a mission (compared to the likes of Don Quixote) to build a ship and drag it through the plains to the lake and sail away.

This feature, full of tragic events, choices and consequences is also full of gripping performances that portray several true emotions. Impressively, this cast (including Gil Bellows from The Shawshank Redemption) presents their characters in a way that makes their individual viewpoints realistic, raw and compelling. One performance of note is Gage Munroe (Immortals, I Declare War) as Petter, the son of the seemingly crazed husband/father.

With moments that are trying, tough and testing at times, Mad Ship takes a little while to get to its main story arc and navigates its way through several character establishing moments that are questionably necessary. The title’s focus is not the film’s focus until much of the film has transpired. It is the struggle, both universally human and emotionally hard, that keeps the attention. Ending in a way that paints the reality of the era and offers little closure, viewers will find plenty to discuss after the credits have rolled.

An engrossing drama that sails on the hopes of a man who will stop at nothing to keep the promises made in love to the ones he loved.

My score:star4

Mad Ship is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 9pm on Thursday, September 5th.


Thursday’s Speaker

Category: Feature. (IMDB page) (Trailer)thursday's speaker

A comedy that explores the search for meaning and purpose in the life of a recovering alcoholic that gives motivational speeches at a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. However, his story about sobriety is fraudulent and false. Continually drunk, Rodrigo hides the truth from others and from himself and, when faced with facts about his alcoholism and other surprising turns, he resorts to old habits hoping for another escape.

With language and situational comedy not entirely intended for kids, Thursday’s Speaker is far from groundbreaking in plot, acting, story and characters. At times, the film’s mix of side stories serve minimal purpose but the main allure of the story lies in following Rodrigo and seeing just how much he is able to get away with. Once his past catches up to him he begins to find the importance of practicing what he preached for so long.

Thursday’s Speaker is more of a “dramedy” as three people’s lives intersect and as their connections become apparent their reactions continue the story. While some of the acting (or over-acting) is distracting and while certain elements of the plot can be seen from the beginning, the story’s focal point lies in Rodrigo and his intentional and unintentional impact he makes on others. The film respectively takes a lighthearted approach to the very serious issue of alcoholism and, in the end, makes it entertaining to an extent.

My score:star2.5

Thursday’s Speaker is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 10:30am on Saturday, September 7th.


Tales from the Organ Trade

Category: Documentary. (IMDB page) (Trailer)Tales from the Organ Trade

Narrated by David Cronenberg (director of Eastern Promises, The Fly), Tales from the Organ Trade is a look at the black market trade of human body organs both at home and abroad. The debate over “questionable legalities” involved in helping people and the concern of those who donate becoming victims of explotation is reviewed through a case study of real-life donators, brokers, surgeons and recipients.

Bienstock’s film brings the frustration in waiting for and the politics involved in organ transplants/ donations that occur in the lives of real people and spreads it to the viewer to experience to a degree. The very same systems that operate to protect life also seem to be the very same systems that condemn it as the politics involved push so many to black market options instead. Tales from the Organ Trade presents the sides of the argument clouded with debates of ethics, politics, values and economics.

An international problem of waiting lists, compensations, etc is pacified to a degree by the black market. This informative look at the unsolved predicament of organ transplants and donations is yet another complicated spoke in the revolving wheel argument of health care and the price of living. Rather than simply reciting facts and statistics, this documentary carries the viewer along with those in need and those willing to “give” and forces several questions to be entertained in the minds of those who watch.

Hoping to prompt change in the lives of people, the halls of congress and in the courts of the world, these Tales from the Organ Trade are worth listening to and are presented in a fashion that may help to see that change as more people pay attention.

My score:star4

Tales from the Organ Trade is scheduled to play in the WSIFF at 8:00 pm on Thursday, September 5th.


Don’t miss the premiere of Roswell FM tonight at 6:30pm starring Brendan Fehr, Jason London, Mirelly Taylor, Brian Tee and more. Read my review and interview with writer David Spence HERE.RoswellFM

When you attend the premiere, look for your chance to see and meet actor Brian Tee (The Wolverine, The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift) who will be among the attendees. See you there!brian tee


The White Sands International Film Festival looks to offer some fantastic viewing experiences this year. Stay tuned for even more reviews and spotlights during the festival September 4th-8th.

***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.”wsiffblogger

Thanks for reading! Happy watching.

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


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