Best of the 2012 Indie Spirit Film Festival
April 22, 2012 6 Comments
Indie Spirit Film Festival 2012: Narrative Features
Things I Don’t Understand (Best Feature Winner)
Given the recent stir about Girls, maybe I shouldn’t be plugging this film that is to some degree a 20-something white people figuring themselves out in New York City film. But I don’t care, it is absolutely splendid and the festival voters agreed, making it the highest rated selection.
Missed Connections (Screeners’ Choice Winner)
Contrasting with the dramatic tone of the best feature winner, this romantic comedy that came millimeters short of the top prize is both a laugh riot and a refreshing entry into what is so often a stale genre. The basic premise of a recently spurned man contacting women who post on the missed connections section of craigslist, setting up meetings under a false front and then having that person stand them up only for our lead to step in and take advantage of their delicate emotional state is interesting. The film takes it in creative directions and importantly doesn’t fall into the trap of demeaning women that the premise could have led to. The acting all around really sells it and makes you care about all the characters.
Bad Is Bad (Student Feature Winner)
The home invasion/hostage sort of set-up of this film isn’t particularly inventive but the visual style is pretty impressive. It’s not that often that I notice things like camera moves but this has some really great cinematographic choices.
This is an okay story made really fascinating through some of the visual tricks. Aside from the Chinese shadow puppet shows that are at the heart of the plot, the film finds other interesting ways to make use of shadows.
This sexy, dark crime mystery film has a neat, shiny look and a certain odd vibe that suggests Twin Peaks, without the surrealism. The choice to have the foreign actors speak in heavily accented English adds to this. Starring Julia Dietze, who may get a bit more known because of the “Nazis In Space” film Iron Sky, this film comes closer than most to that oral equality I recently wrote about.
Indie Spirit Film Festival 2012: Documentary Features
The Love of Beer (Best Documentary Winner)
Looking at female brewmasters, mostly in the pacific northwest, this documentary is fun for anyone interested in beer, which should be everyone. A combination of some of my favorite things.
Mission To Lars
This is a sweet story about a guy with a genetic form of autism, and a big fan of Metalica, on a quest to meet drummer Lars Ulrich. The interesting thing is that the barrier isn’t Metalica, who come off as really awesome such that I kind of regret the negative feelings I had given their reaction to piracy issues, but rather his own symptoms.
This doc follows a man who, in his 30s, decides to change his career to trapeze artist and starts a journey to make it into Cirque du Soleil.
Indie Spirit Film Festival 2012: Shorts
Faith (Best Short Winner)
This is a bendy little crime thriller with a good payoff. Perfect use of the short form medium to tell a tight story.
This was probably the best looking film in the festival. A weird little sci-fi flick didn’t necessarily wow me with the story, though it was interesting, as with the sheer awesomeness of the effects.
Telling the story of a noted high-wire walker, this is a really cool looking narrative short. While one obviously figures there are computer effects going on (rather than actual high-wire stunts), the green-screening is pretty flawless.
Kids For Kidnapping
This student short follows two tweenish kids on the run from their babysitter as the older sister attempts to attend a party. Very strong look at youngsters straining a bit too hard to be grown up.
The Gay Who Wasn’t Gay Enough
This is a fun little short about a gay guy who feels out of his depth relative to the more feminine stereotype…brought to you by the Gay Men’s Rugby of Toronto.
Mujeres Del Tirano
While selected for the festival, and rightfully so, they weren’t able to show this short that has an interesting take on domestic violence. Considering how many technical challenges present themselves in running a film festival, it sometimes seems remarkable how few films fall through, this being the only one of the 118 films selected.
If The Artist proved anything, it is that words remain overrated as a part of film. Showing in the music shorts set, I was not sure how this fit in until a moment about halfway through and then it all kind of clicks into place. The actors bring that physicality of movement and expression that is essential to dialogue-free film.
And now with my 60 hour week working the festival almost at an end, my blog should get back to more normal posting patterns.
*This blog is not affiliated with the Indie Spirit Film Festival and only reflects the opinions of the author.