Friday, September 14, 2007

MIcrocinema Fest 2007: Thursday Highlights

This year, my brother Eric and I got right to business in Palatine, hitting a drive-thru with Illinois filmmakers Jon Solita and Jeremy Neander and Canadian filmmaker/Fest founder Wally Fong on the way to Cutting Hall. There were more than 30 entries to screen in three days and some butts needed to get in some seats. Later Solita would write me that he had a massive bruise on his ass from twenty hours of movies. But it was game on from when the lights dimmed forward.

First was OMEGA 35 from young Florida auteurs the Dastoli Brothers. I have been saying these dudes are young for quite a few years and they are still young, as they started bringing the goods back in high school. This FX-laden sci-fi short harkened back to my high school days, giving off an early-80s vibe with a BLADE RUNNER/OUTLAND-type story set in a dystopian future. The Dastolis remain long on style over substance, but their style is worth just sitting back and enjoying.

Next was PRETTY DEAD FLOWERS from Justin Liberman, a dramatic short which gave off a different retro vibe, more of a French New Wave thing, as a an aging model engages a flippant young photojournalist in a meeting of the minds. Shot in luminous black and white, with mature storytelling and nuanced performances, PRETTY DEAD FLOWERS was a nice surprise and one of my personal top three favorite projects in the Fest.

IMPRINT from the Linn Brothers was the first feature of the Fest, a polished supernatural drama featuring a largely Native American cast. This is another pair of brothers who I have been following since high school, though they are much closer to my age. They have delivered a mature, resonant work with nice shooting and acting throughout. The Linn Brothers, the original Fest hosts, were given an Alumni recognition at the Awards Banquet Sunday, much deserved.

AN APOLOGY TO THE DEAD was the next feature, and shows the dangers of a professor becoming too close to an eager student who happens to work in a massage parlour, a predicament I faced time and again during my teaching days. Despite some shortcomings in the technical and storytelling mechanics, I thought the two leads were quite strong and created some memorable moments.

Next time--more off the hip reviews of Microcinema Fest 2007!

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