The Slamdance Film Festival continues to grow each year, showcasing more and more films as well as up and coming filmmakers. The festival, touting itself as “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” sheds a brilliant light on what means to be independent. Last year, “Honey Buddies” aka “Buddymoon” starring Flula Borg was one of the breakout hits from the festival among many others such as “The Tail Job,” and “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town.” And this year is no exception to the winning rule of great films at Slamdance. While the Sundance Film Festival which takes place in the same town during much of the same time overshadows this smaller festival, it is with great pride that I am able to participate in Slamdance as well, seeing many outstanding films and interviewing the talent behind them.
I was not able to see every film on my list and will give you those films yet unseen, but here are my top films that I did see at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival:
WHAT LIES UPSTREAM: This shocking documentary riveted the opening night festival audience as filmmaker Cullen Hoback took viewers on a journey into the safety of our drinking water. With the disturbing Flint, Michigan discovery, Hoback finds yet another town in West Virginia whose water source has been contaminated. The film is equivalent to a thrilling mystery as Hoback finds more and more evidence of coverup and deceit within the very agencies we trusted to oversee our drinking water. And the consequences of the contamination is even more shocking. The film’s message will make you think twice before filling up that glass of water to drink. Listen to the interview with Cullen Hoback here
KATE CAN’T SWIM: First-time director Josh Helman joined creative forces with Jennifer Allcott to write “Kate Can’t Swim,” a complex and provocative film that brings relationships and sexuality into sharp focus. The raw emotions capture the angst of young adults attempting to figure out life, love, and conforming to societal expectations. As two young couples vacation together at a remote lake house, getting to know a new addition to the group, Kate is faced with both internal and external confrontations that put all of the relationships into jeopardy. With extraordinary performances, exceptional cinematography, precise direction, and a script that rings true, “Kate Can’t Swim” is a film that can’t miss. Read the full review here Listen to the interview with the writers here
SUCK IT UP: This road trip movie is an open and honest girlfriend story taking on the topics of loss, love, and relationships. Directed by Jordan Canning and starring Erin Margurite Carter (Faye) and Grace Glowicki (Ronnie), these two girls couldn’t be any more different, yet their youth and one man tie them together forever. Faye’s brother who also happens to be Ronnie’s lost love passes away. This tragic event is dealt with very differently by each of them and together, while on this trip, the two attempt to go through the grieving process in their own way. It’s funny yet heartfelt, and sometimes sweet yet uncomfortable, finding a way to remarkably tell two different perspectives about life. LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR JORDAN CANNING HERE
DAVE MADE A MAZE: Director Bill Watterson co-wrote this film with Steven Sears about a seemingly grown man who builds a cardboard box fort in his living room while his girlfriend is away…and he gets lost in it. As Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) returns home to discover her boyfriend “missing,” she organizes the troupes to rescue him. If it sounds bizarre, it is! But only in the best of ways! This is one of the most innovative and creative films complete with an absolutely spectacular set design that will blow your mind. It’s funny and silly, but sweet and charming—a great combination. The story brings to life some of our childhood nightmares and our adult dreams into one mesmerizing film. Listen to the interview with the talent of “Dave Made A Maze” here
DIM THE FLUORESCENTS: A struggling actor and writer find a way to make the rent by creating corporate work demonstrations on various topics. This hilarious look at two women’s passions within their professions and the reality of competition is both insightful and delightful. The duo create an inviting story that will make you laugh as you identify with the relationship and difficulties they both have at a pivotal time in their lives. Filled with substance and life, “Dim The Fluorescents” is a creative female-centric film to put on your radar.
BEAT BEAT HEART: Another female-centered film is the German movie “Beat Beat Heart.” Luise Brinkmann writes and directs this story about a young woman attempting to heal a broken heart. When her mother shows up and moves in, struggling from her own relationship woes, the two delve into sometimes hilarious and oftentimes emotionally loaded situations wrought with confusion and compassion. The mother-daughter relationship is a complex one and “Beat Beat Heart” finds every subtle nuance to portray this. Beautiful cinematography augment the scenes, bringing you into the film and the emotion. This is an exceptional film from a first-time filmmaker whose name you’ll surely be hearing more of. Read the full review here Audio interview coming soon.
Films I still have on my list to see include: NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE, WEXFORD PLAZA, WEATHER HOUSE, AUTOMATIC AT SEA and THE FAMILY
Slamdance hits it out of the park again this year with their films! Check back for more links, interviews, and updated reviews!