film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The 29th Annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival- Jan. 26th, 27th, and the 28th, 2018

Image result for notre dame student film festival 2018Greetings from Browning Cinema in Notre Dame, Indiana. This is my fifth time covering this terrific film festival. Like last year, there are again thirteen short films. And unlike last year, the weather is much better in The Hoosier State (50 degrees in January, yay!). One short in particular (Smoke Break), clocked in as having a possible running time of one minute. Another short (Freaky Fast), handily used Jimmy John's as their product placement. Anyway, here are the highlights along with their brief reviews and favorable ratings:

Spilt Milk * * * 1/2 Stars
Collaborators: Ben Vasquez, Rosie Biehl, Tanner Cipriano
Image result for notre dame student film festival 2018-Spilt Milk is probably the best thing I've seen to start off an ND flick fest. Shot in black and white, "Milk" is kooky, 50's noir. It's also spiked with Philip Marlowe-like parodies, moving split screens, and tongue-in-cheek flair. The premise: A detective who drinks too much (milk that is) needs to find out who's responsible for stealing quote unquote, "the cookie from the cookie jar". Watch for a scene where said detective smokes three cigs at the same time. It gives new meaning to the words, "light em up".

Respectfully, Tony * * * Stars
Collaborators: John Haley and Julia Szromba
-Respectfully, Tony is a somber yet well done documentary. Its subject invariably hurts inside and you can see it. However, "Tony" sort of ends too abruptly. I was pulled into the story of a Georgia man who went from being on death row to getting paroled after 39 years in the joint. Sadly, I just wanted more insight from it all. Of note: The town that Tony currently inhabits (Canton, GA), is a place that I worked and lived in over 15 years ago. It hasn't changed a bit.

Hive * * * Stars
Image result for notre dame student film festival 2018 hive
Collaborators: Ryan Taylor, Erin Lattimer, John McDonough, Ryan Leen
-Hive is wholly original and at the same time, echoes films that have a dystopian and blurred, social media nature. This is a dense, sterile, and modern short with a brilliant musical score (by Ryan Taylor) and a plot assertion that it's wrong to actually talk to people. I got high on Hive's imagery and said to myself, "this is what a director like Andrew Niccol, James Ponsoldt, or Wally Pfister would have done". So yeah, let's just call Hive a combo of Gattaca meets The Circle meets Transcendence. That sounds about right.

Sam * * * 1/2 Stars
Collaborator: Audrey Grewe
-Sam is the ultimate success story. It's about an ND student named Sam Grewe. Grewe loses his leg to cancer and then three years later, competes in international high jump competitions for medals. Sam which is filmed by Grewe's sister (Audrey), adds archive footage, an intuitive timeline for Grewe's handicapped metamorphosis, and some light humor. Sam Grewe's ability to laugh and find happiness in his disability makes Sam the docu a triumph. It's this year's best entry at the 29th Annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival.

Breaking the Cycle * * * Stars
Collaborators: Indi Jackson, Vincent Augusto
Image result for notre dame student film festival 2018-Breaking the Cycle is a subconscious and raw documentary. It's about a mom whose African American daughter thrives at athletics via The University of Notre Dame. Most of the subjects featured wear their hearts on their sleeves during the interviews. They preach and frustrate themselves about racial injustice and ongoing oppression. Uneven at times yet hard to look away from, "Cycle" has profanity-laden openness. It may be off-putting but you can't help but be drawn to what these people feel and say.

Image result for notre dame student film festival 2018As of Now * * * 1/2 Stars
Collaborators: Moira Hamilton, Elizabeth Hynes, Maddie Landon, John Salazar, Ryan Taylor
-As of Now represents the best ensemble acting of any entry at this year's festival. Tightly edited with a mixture of dimmed flashbacks and present day scenes, "Now" deals with the notion of physical and sexual abuse. Everything culminates at a Title IX hearing via a small college (St. Agnes University). A lot of short films at ND film fests seem to deal with the uncomfortable themes just mentioned. As of Now rings truer and feels more absorbing than almost all of said films.

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment