film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The 6th Annual River Bend Film Festival- April 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2014

River Bend Film FestivalGreetings once again from South Bend, Indiana. Here are five featured films and their ratings. All of them were shown at the Century Center's Recital Hall. There were two animated shorts, one kids drama, one regular drama, and a fiercely long documentary. All five mini films combined to run just under two hours. The list is as follows:

A Purrfect Pair * * Stars
Director: Gwyneth Christoffel

Kickstand * * * Stars
Director: Thomas Schultz
-Filmed in Oak Park, Illinois and based on a true story according to its director, this is a short dealing with bullies and the act of revenge brought on by a stolen bike. Being fairly well acted by a young cast, Kickstand also does some neat editing tricks with quick flashback cuts. And it nods slightly to Braveheart (as also voiced by the film's director).

Slowly But Surely * * * 1/2 Stars
Director: Eli Balser
-With narration that is not overdone and comes in at just the right points, Slowly But Surely has fantastic animation that while it looks a bit dated (kinda echos a cartoon feel from the 1970's or 1980's), still seems to make things work and add to the mystique. The story involves a friendship between a dragonfly and a snail who try to help each other out while bearing a rough rain storm.

Letter for Hope * * * Stars
Director: Raquel Roderick
-As a dramatic turn involving the aspects of death and dying, Letter for Hope intertwines two stories in the same hospital: A woman who has to give birth to a dead baby and a husband who is grieving for his about-to-pass wife. The film has some heartfelt moments and the acting by the entire cast is decent and professional (the lead looks a bit like Jim Broadbent). There are scenes however, when the storytelling drags a bit and wanders off. At the same time, the other plot point involving the grieving husband and his health stricken wife doesn't seem to be examined enough. Overall though, it's still a solid entry that might make you tear up. It was filmed in New Zealand which to me initially looked like Southern California (mountains and palm trees). And everyone trading dialogue had British accents so I knew something was up. Safe to say that after I read the festival program, I was less confused.

Out of the Fire * * * 1/2 Stars
Director: Courtenay Singer
-Despite being overly long (it was 3-4 times more in length than the other entries) and taking itself a bit too seriously, Out of the Fire is still the best film out of the five that I saw. It's a documentary and I've always been a fan of documentaries. My ratings are for the most part favorable and "Fire" was no exception. It chronicles one Kevin Crowe. He lives a primitive lifestyle making pottery in the mountains of Virginia. He's a philosophizer, a deep thinker, and is extremely dedicated to his work. The beginning of the proceedings give you a background story about his past (he got into pottery after being in a car accident, his wife died of cancer and he remarried, etc, etc..) and how he hired an apprentice (Krista Loomans) to help him with his work. Then Out of the Fire dives strictly into the art of making things with clay. Let me just say this: If you've never taken a pottery class or never knew anything about the craft, this 40 minute plus (estimated) flick will be your chief education. As for the collaborator behind this exhausting shoot spanning four days, L.A. based Courtenay Singer directs in the classic documentary style.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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