Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sundance Film Fest, Thurs. & Fri. (1/29-30), Post 3

Independent Cinema:
changing the world with cameras instead of a guns
-- an idea adapted from How to Change the World --

Thursday the 29th included one of my absolute favorite films of the festival: Turbo Kid (2015) directed by the brother-sister duo Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell and François Simard. Turbo Kid is a bloodbath film overflowing with 80s nostalgia in the best sense (of both bloodbath films and 80s nostalgia). It does so with genuine aplomb, absent of mockery, just pure blissful 80s films re-imagined yet in the spirit of The Goonies (Donner, 1985) and Mad Max (Miller, 1979). I posted the (graphic) youtube official trailer at the bottom of this post.

I am Michael director Kelly, actor James Franco, and crew at Sundance

I Am Michael premiered on the evening of the 29th. It is a solid film by new and promising director Justin Kelly, starring James Franco, Emma Roberts (in a minor role), and Zachary Quinto. The film's story is controversial and well known, yet the film is also noteworthy in part due to its editing techniques. One example: in a shot-reverse shot exchange between Franco and Quinto in a restaurant, the framing is such that each close-up depicts the conversant's face eying the edge of the frame while the majority of the screen is comprised of the space is behind him.

Shot A: Franco speaks to Quinto (a majority of the shot is the space behind him)


Shot B: Quinto responds to Franco (a majority of the shot is the space behind him)

The technique requires shifting ones eyes to the opposite side of the screen in order to follow the character's expressions. Rather than appearing gimmicky or trite, the technique places the audience cinematicly into the expansive head-space of each character. It is a mind expanding move that feels fresh and original. And Franco is absolutely fantastic in this role.

On Friday the 28th I concluded my festival experience with three documentaries. The Amina Profile (2014), directed by Sophie Deraspe, depicts the "Gay Girl in Damascus" blogger hoax of a few years ago when a female blogger from Syria turned out to be someone else entirely. The film sustains good questions about online virtual identities and the damage they cause by drawing attention away from important issues.

How To Change The World (Rothwell, 2015) is an oral history of Greenpeace's genesis presented with a goldmine of archival footage. And third, at a Windrider Forum event I saw Dancing in Jaffa by director Hilla Medalia. This 2013 documentary endearingly depicts both Arab and Jewish Israeli children in Jaffa who learn to accept and trust one another by dancing together in a competition. All films were attended by their directors who graciously responded to audience questions. While not my favorite films in terms of presentation and interest, all three docs were informative.

Turbo Kid Official YouTube Trailer

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