“If you wanna get adventure, you gotta go out and get it.”
This past weekend, young filmmakers invaded the Seattle Center and did just that. They displayed their adventures and heartbreaking stories on film at SIFF Cinema and the EMP. This Coast was in attendance, and after a successful year, the festival wrapped up its 5th year on a high note, complete with arousing applause and an achievement like no other.
Here are some of the films that were my favorites from NFFTY 2011:
Miller and Medearis present this powerful documentary that provides an educated view about the conflict between Israelis, Palestinians, and the youth caught in the middle.
This was a lighter short, focusing on the narration of the young men and women in both countries who have not given up hope. They have a voice and want their homeland to have peace. It was beautifully shot in Israel, Palestine, and Bethlehem, as well as various locations throughout the Middle East. It is an inspiring tale of reconciliation. Be sure to check out the trailer and “making of” process through Within Broken Borders. It was one of the best documentaries I have seen.
An excellent revenge movie reminiscent of Kill Bill. Our main character witnessed his mother and father brutally murdered. Years later, he exacts his revenge with the most devious of consequences.
This film was well produced and proved to be an exciting thriller that left me on the edge of my seat. At times it seemed to be a bit graphic with its mature theme, but it kept the adrenaline pumping.
A young woman frustrated with the endless direction in her life is inspired by her one true friend. If she ever wants adventure and change, she has to go out and seek it. Of course, it helps to search for such adventure with a generous check.
This was an enduring portrait about the decisions we must make to ensure a better, well sustained life for ourselves. Along with the great message by Mr. Stephenson, the film also shined a spotlight on the music group, Folk Uke with their delightful sarcastic tune “Shit Makes The Flowers Grow.”
A lonely video store clerk and a mysterious young woman who meet by chance both yearn for an escape. One night, the duo ends up mixed up with a drug runner and embark on wild chase through the hypnotic streets of Taipei in this romantic thriller.
This was an appealing movie from the far east that featured a compelling story about moving beyond the borders of what is expected. During the film’s chase through Taipei, it reminded me of a silly chase scene in an old Scooby Doo episode.
Adam gets lured into stealing yogurt from Stephen Baldwin and is forced to go car sloshing with a pair of thrill seekers. When his target turns out to be a familiar face who is a woman that is incredibly unhappy, he must step up and face the music. But the power of friendship becomes evident, and it’s all for one and one for all.
The film was a hilarious homage to adolescent teenagers going through life. With a wicked tongue and sharp acting, this was a favorite. It was accompanied by a great musical score that often echoed Animal Collective. You can hear the entirety of the track by the original composer Henry Kaye, a talented musician on the rise.
“Why should I wake up?” Jake ponders the question every morning when laying in bed with Miss Kitty, his lazy house cat. One day when he finally gets out of bed, he becomes a mega winner and now has 50,000 reasons for waking up.
This was simply a laugh out loud short with an amazing lesson of self-discovery and a touching tribute for men and their cats.
This was an entertaining short that seemed to mirror a Wes Anderson movie, in my opinion. The infectious pop melodies and hilarious story telling made this a fan favorite.
Two young scientists meet and bond over the exciting world of science. This was a hilarious “buddy movie” that will leave moviegoers with a grin stretching from ear to ear. Be sure to check out the video and its other counterparts on YouTube. They are enticing to watch.
This impressive 5 minute short was a delicious thriller that needed no big story lines or a starting point. A woman runs out of gas in the middle of a lonely deserted highway. A stranger soon arrives to help with her troubles. However, some woman who are beautiful and desirable, are not always as hospitable as they appear to be.
The film won the Audience Award for their category and rightfully so. If you are a film festival junkie, be sure to follow the filmmakers as they are blazing thru multiple festivals this year. I also urge you to take a gander, and enjoy the film here.
A talented pianist, Doina, from a small Romanian village is set to perform at an international piano selection with her teacher. Although very talented at the piano, she greatly despises it. Once onstage, however, she certainly has a trick up her sleeve and plays the one instrument she truly cherishes that garners here an enjoyable applause.
As an international short, the music is the theme and primary subject for a film that begs you to open your shell and follow the rhythm of your own tune. Rest assured, this had audiences cheering.
Steps — Directed by Scott Oller
Shoes — Directed by Ekin Su Akedmir, Caner Apis, and Abdullah Koyun
My Balloon — Directed by Tyler Downing
The Elevator — Directed by Ashley Lendzion and Heather Morris
Derby Girls — Directed by Lucy Adams
Untermensch (Subhuman) — Directed by Michael Aloyan
The Rest of Us — Directed by Alyssa Piraino, Maddi Davis, and Daniel Tayara
Who’s Afraid of the Water Sprite? — Directed by William McGregor
Immediately following each screening, filmmakers stood front and center for the Q&A portion. It was a great forum where they explained how they crafted the stories, created the design, and detailed the specific cameras used. The biggest question of most Q&A sessions was: How much was the budget? Director Nikolas Grasso stated that it cost roughly around 10,000 pounds — at about $6,000 U.S. dollars — for his movie Doina. Producer Michael Lowen of The Perfect Hurl said the budget alone was $10,000.
Like most Hollywood blockbusters, these filmmakers also faced some difficult challenges. Sara B. Pedersen, director of En verden vendt på hovedet (Upside Down), stated she faced many obstacles.
“The actors showed up late… the casting director dropped out at the last-minute…” she said. “It was nothing but hurdles.”
In the end, Pedersenʻs film turned out great and was amusing to watch on the big screen, just like the other 225 films that were chosen to be viewed this weekend.
After countless screenings, one of the best things about the festival was the story-telling and the true nature of how every filmmaker wanted to share their story. A lot of films that were screened reached out to all ages for barrels of laughs and at other times, the most touching moments that tug on your heart strings. It was cinema at its finest and I, for one, am ready for NFFTY 2012.
This Coast writer James Stanford wishes to thank Elizabeth Rosenberg, of LOFT Marketing & Communications, for the special invitation to this yearʻs NFFTY. It was a pleasure to be in attendance.