#WSIFF: Reviews to Use & Help Choose, pt 6.


The White Sands International Film Festival began on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. With a full schedule “packed with some of the most engaging, amazing and intriguing features, short films and documentaries anywhere” I am continuing my process of reviewing the films presented. I hope you are able to make some of the viewings. For full playlist schedule and trailers for the film submissions, click HERE. Get your tickets TODAY, HERE.

During this time of 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 6

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

The Retrieval

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)2013theretrieval1


Set during the time of the Civil War era, a boy is told by a bounty hunter gang to find and return a wanted man to them. Left with the choice to either do as they demand or be killed, he heads out to do as instructed. Sent under false pretense, the fatherless boy finds the man and unexpectedly forms emotional bonds with the man who he must turn in to certain death. Along this dangerous journey through the treacherous and war-ridden territory, the men traverse together and find a certain unexpected appreciation for each other.

Strong in character leads and development, The Retrieval is a snapshot of slavery with more authenticity than most films based in the time period (Django Unchained, etc). Throughout the entire film, the threat of enslavement is present and not forgotten all while the threat of them losing their lives and finding greater danger abounds. The young boy’s attraction to his “mark” is brought out as his internal search for a father-figure finds truth, care, protection and guidance from this unexpectedly good-natured “bad” man sentenced to die by ruthless bounty hunters.

Not only is The Retrieval a story about slavery or a story about doing what is right, it is also a story of humanity, finding the good inside of each other and moving forward to retrieve the purposes, pleasures and pertinence lost at one time or another. A very impressive film full of actors who portray their characters plights and struggles most believably and assuredly. You MUST see The Retrieval.

UPDATE: On Friday evening (Sept 6th) I had the distinct pleasure of meeting executive producer Sibyl Avery Jackson and we discussed The Retrieval. I was surprised to learn, not only, that the film may be able to be viewed at special screenings in the near future in select cities (keep a lookout for it), but also that Alfonso Freeman (son of Morgan Freeman) is part of the cast of The Retrieval. You can follow The Retrieval on Facebook HERE. and stay up to date on future screenings. Currently getting information out to distributors, The Retrieval may be available to many viewers soon. Trust me, you do not want to miss The Retrieval.IMAG1337

(My sincerest gratitude to Sibyl for meeting with me and sharing more insight into the film and its purposeful story for people of all times, races, creeds and walks of life.)

Playing once more on Saturday, Sept. 7th at 3PM.

My score:star5


Just 45 Minutes from Broadway

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)broadway-1016


Definitely not your average family, the Isaacs are actors (most of them out of work) who live reminiscing the “glory days” and reveling in their odd, quirky ways. When their “prodigal daughter” returns with a fiance, new relationships bring up old wounds and when compounded with a family of such eccentric characters, all pandemonium ensues.

An appreciation for actors, the stage, the art of performing and more is shared through this film that subtly pays tribute to classic films, actors, songs, styles and plays…but this film will only be appreciated by few. I actually enjoyed most of it myself. The characters, a mixture of The Royal Tenenbaums and a Wes Anderson movie cast, are individual and some play an important role in the films overall message while others simply exist as a part of the crazy world.

The thing that I appreciated about the film is its challenge in its story to find a way to not be afraid to drop pretenses and facades and just be yourself. Interestingly enough, the most real people in the entire movie were the actors. A film that attempts to balance family feuds, personal and professional worth, romance and humor, the Isaacs are a family as unique, weird and loving as yours or mine and this visit to their home may be fun, frustrating and full of sighs all at the same time.

Drama, Comedy, Tragedy, Romance, Mystery…it all takes the stage in this film presented as uniquely as the story and its characters alike. Just 45 Minutes From Broadway‘s audiences may either applaud or boo, but the story isn’t as deplorable as some make it out to be.

Update: I actually went to view this film a second time on Saturday. Additional thoughts are as follows:

So many subtleties playing back and forth with the blurring of the lines of acting and reality. Is it theater that imitates/influences life or vice versa? This film is delightful with each character just as such and playing out exactly like a theatrical play…and life…all in one. A nice blend shot in a beautiful manner. The ending takes a slightly different turn than the rest of the film in style, which distracts, but all in all, I still appreciated it and found it not to be a waste of time, even if it isn’t the strongest in every rating category.

Playing once more on Saturday, Sept. 7th at 10:30am.

My score:star2.5


Reality Show

Category: Feature. (IMDB page)realityTrailer: (Parental Advisory: contains language not intended for children)

Director Adam Rifkin presents a mockumentary that satirically calls out the nature of “fake” reality tv and the sad state of human nature in being addicted to it and the need for destruction all in the name of being entertained.

Reality Show takes an average suburbian American family and makes them the unwitting subject of a reality tv show. At first seemingly innocent, the show needs to be amped up in order for ratings to be secured and for it to assure an addicted audience. When the filming crew resort to adding a little bit of chaos and conflict into the household, results snowball that take the family (and the entertainment) way farther than anyone ever expected.

It’s a trainwreck to watch. Not indicating that the film is horribly put together. The exact opposite. It is a trainwreck of events that keep you glued to the screen even though you want to look away or punch somebody or both. (I felt a bit unnerved and unsure about exactly how I was supposed to feel afterwards, to a degree) In this, the director accomplishes exactly what he intended to and makes the audience face reality in that, as a society, our love/hate relationship with reality tv shows is both controlling and controlled. Originally acquired to run on Showtime as a television series, Reality Show is a 92 minute feature that is more of the original vision of Rifkin for the project.

Definitely not for kids or for the faint of heart as it depicts violence, nudity, sexual content, teen drug and alcohol use, Reality Show makes you still not get up and leave or turn away from the screen. Rifkin impressively uses the human nature of wanting to watch someone in a worse situation than your own and ties you to the screen during the entire show. The snowball of horrific events that started with a simple and “innocent” placement of cameras teases the possibility of a happy ending that may…or may not come.

Don’t miss it. But be warned, once you start it…you can’t stop watching, as much as you may want to. That’s the “reality” of it.

Playing once more on Saturday, September 7th at 7:30pm.

My score:star4.5


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.

***Want to read MORE reviews?

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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