01 April 2011

Ego Fest Day 2 (Part 1)

#EgoFest

The notorious Julie and Jessica (a.k.a. @kingisafink) have this breakfast place in Brainerd they seem to be more or less obsessed with. They simply must go there. And so they organize a breakfast outing, but I'm really finding that sleep on this trip is a really valuable commodity, and so I decline. Hell, I don't even have time to catch the continental breakfast at the hotel.

And no, I don't remember the name.

I mention this because when Phil Seneker and I get to the 11am block of films, Julie and Jessica are nowhere to be found. They show up at some point during lunch, apparently having gone to breakfast and then gone back to bed. At least, that's my assumption. It's a crafty move on their part.

They do, however, show up in time to hear this message from our good friends at Film Courage:



Since I'm working, I'm in and out of the screening room, so I tend to miss chunks of films, or even full films. That is, until about half-way through the day, when I realize that if I sit in the projection booth, I can work and watch the films. Or, at least kind of pay attention to the films. I'm trying to think of a good way to summarize a full day of shorts. Here's what I've come up with: a collection of thoughts about the films that stuck with me--good or bad.

Honest criticism never hurt anyone, right? And if we're lucky, maybe some of these films are online.

THE DAY LUFBERRY WON IT ALL (Roy C. Booth)

It'd be easy to criticize the production value here, as obviously this was made on the cheap. And I probably would have kept my mouth shut, except the director was trying to use this film to sell people on letting him adapt their work. At least, I think that's what he was doing. LUFBERRY is 20 minutes long, which is probably 12 minutes too long. Maybe more.

It's bad, really bad. There's not a good acting performance in the film, and it looks like it was shot on something worse than miniDV. The sound is terrible. But the best part of the film is near the end, when suddenly there's a guy in the background of a scene (he appears half-way through the scene), crouched down against a wall, frozen like a deer in headlights. Best guess: a crew member got stuck in the corner and hoped if he stayed really, really still, no one would notice he was there.

PHOTOS & DRAWINGS (Jon Maichel Thomas)

I missed this one, but everyone told me it was awesome. Naturally. I did find the trailer, though, and it does look good.



LE PARADIS DE L'IMBECILE (Patrick T. Griffin)

Apparently a thesis film, Griffin's film has a lot of flaws, but is also a lot of fun to watch. It riffs on themes, on genres, on styles. It does what I imagine a thesis film should do--it basically shows off the talent of the people involved. Look what we learned! Could it be tighter? Sure. But the lead is pretty compelling. And, most importantly, I want to see more from this director.

DIVORCEES (Michael Lee Nirenberg)

Day 1 we watched Michael Lee Nirenberg's CLOWN DAD, a 28 minute film that was at least 29 minutes too long. Really painful stuff. That evening, Phil Holbrook told me the director had another film in the festival that was completely different. I shuddered. But Phil was right--kind of.

DIVORCEES is both completely different and remarkably similar. They share much of cast, a kind of cardboard cutout aesthetic, and a silent film vibe. But everything (and I mean everything) that fails in CLOWN DAD works brilliantly in DIVORCEES. Could it be that the director figured it out? Did someone take him under their wing? It be a fascinating thing to explore.

And it's not just that one of them kind of fails and one of them kind of works. To this point, CLOWN DAD is the worst film I've seen in years. Yes, years. DIVORCEES is probably the best thing I've seen since EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. That a pretty big range.



PRIMARY COLORS (Thomas Bertin)

I somehow missed this the first time around, but I found it on Vimeo. It's a nice little mood piece. It looks good. The score is simple. I like that it's not trying to do too much. It would be really easy to take a subject like this and hammer the "message" over the head of the audience for 10 minutes, but Bertin doesn't. He gets in, does his thing, and gets out. Sometimes simple is best.



Still to come: TILT! More from Kingisafink! Zak Forsman! More!


Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.

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