Featured Short: The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere

In a modern world where many of us have been spoon fed to expect certain things out of life, our “honorable mention trophies” and “A for efforts” have gotten so out of hand that it’s easy to get lost in the race to success with no true aim or idea of what we are even chasing after anymore. What’s even at the finish line these days other than exhaustion, oversold acclaim and a dying 15 mins of fame? What if success was truly overrated? As they say, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, eh? But what if you literally try your hardest, miss 100% of the shots you DO take and still find yourself a symbol of hope to an entire nation and a success in your utter failure?  Mickey Duzyj's acclaimed Hot Docs winning film, THE SHINING STAR OF LOSERS EVERYWHERE, is a half-animated hybrid short documentary that tells the story of a never ending failure in the form of Haru Urara, a once beloved race horse in Japan with a career-long losing streak and a pink Hello Kitty mask, to be exact. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But what if you tried and failed - not once, twice or three times - but even more times? What if you had 100+ failures under your..uh..saddle and people STILL loved you? This was to be Haru Urara’s legacy.  A mascot for all wholesome, gosh darn losers everyone, she became a random success in her failures, thanks to a viral news story that spread like wildfire across Japan. She became a fad, a symbol of never giving up, all because the racetrack could not bear sending such a spirited animal to the slaughterhouse. An entire nation had so much faith in both her continuing losses and small chance of winning that her existence even saved that racetrack from bankruptcy!  She came, she ran, she lost - again and again and again. And eventually she disappeared - the end of an era that lives on within this film over 10 years later. Sometimes putting in the effort amounts to nothing. And sometimes that nothing turns into the adoration of thousands of lost souls looking for someone - or something - to show them that it’s okay to lose as long as there is hope, positivity and Hello Kitty. A wonderful mix of traditional, contemporary and animated storytelling methods, Duzyj’s film will envelop you in sheer wonder and fervor with a phenomenon that should have never existed….and yet it did! The irony is, this film has success by the halter and steers its story to first place. However, it couldn’t have done it without one big time loser. Do youself a favor and watch the film, created for ESPN's award winning 30-for-30 series, here.  And while you're at it, you can watch more award-winning shorts (for free!) now on Indie Street!

Maria's Pick: OK Go's "The One Moment"

NEW Year. NEW You. NEW opportunities to discover NEW innovative creations! Stick with your resolution to make 2017 a fantastic year by kicking things off with a brand new Maria’s Pick for January. Maria Dicieanu, Submarine Channel author & former editor, brought Indie Street a musical menagerie of drop dead, mind-blowing music videos throughout 2016. And 2017 is already shaping up to be just as extraordinary. Her pick for this month? Only one of the most mesmerizing, jaw-dropping videos from the end of last year: OK Go's "The One Moment". Check out the reason for her recommendation below!  “We're kicking off the new year with a splendid and insanely creative music video for the ever surprising band OK Go. Directed by Damien Kulash, the band's frontman, the promo literally takes a moment to watch: 4.2 seconds to be more exact. Of course, the artistry of the music video only becomes apparent once the promo rolls in slow motion, but even at a normal speed it makes an interesting, and not to mention time saving(!), experience.When it comes to the idea behind the music video, Kulash admits they wanted to construct “a moment of total chaos and confusion, and then unravel it discovering the beauty, wonder and structure within”. Unlike the band's other works which distinguish themselves also through the buoyant and exuberant tone, this one feels “more intimate and contemplative”, the director calling it the “most heartfelt and sincere” promo yet. “The One Moment is a celebration of those moments in life when we are most alive. Humans are not equipped to understand our own temporariness; It will never stop being deeply beautiful, deeply confusing and deeply sad that our lives and our world are so fleeting”. The video was shot using several robotic arms as there is currently no camera control system that can capture a movement of such length and complexity. It also features the now regular exploding paint buckets, popping water balloons, some moments of lip-synching stop motion and a series of blown out guitars (some that were already being scrapped by Fender for having failed quality control tests). The promo also showcases a humanitarian dimension as it promotes and supports the campaign – an initiative encouraging young innovators to bravely make a positive difference in the world through their projects. "The One Moment" is an extremely ambitious and condensed project that indeed conveys a fascinating array of messages. Like most of the OK Go music videos, it pushes things, further leaving us to wonder what else we should expect from this very exciting new year!”  Make sure to set aside more than ONE moment to watch or revisit “The One Moment”. We guarantee you’ll need at least a few free ones to overdose on this curious visual and musical wonder more than once!  

  About Maria: "Multimedia in Human Form. Media researcher. Journalist. Filmmaker. PR and Social Media Mind. Cinephille. TV Shows aficionado. Books Lover. Music Video guru and former curator of the project"

Featured Short: Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire (An Extraordinary Person)

Sometimes very simple things attract us to a film. A poster. A one-line synopsis. An actor or actress. A trusted friend’s taste. In the case of a film like Monia Chokri's "Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire (An Extraordinary Person)", well, its acclaim on the festival circuit didn’t hurt, but that wasn’t the first thing that attracted me to it. I’m a little ashamed to say it, but the magnet in this case? A name. The film follows what turns out to be a not so ordinary day in the life of a woman named Sarah. And hey, well, my name is Sarah! As simple as that, a bond was formed between film and viewer. I was hooked. Sarah is an intelligent, almost PhD level 30 yr old with a lot going for her (and this, my friends, is where the similarities to my life seem end). Sarah also seems to live within a certain type of normality while also having a fear of living her life that very way. We meet her as she literally (and figuratively) wakes up….in the bed of a 16 yr old boy. Confusion and frustration enter swiftly from stage right and Sarah decides, since this day isn’t going according to plan anyways, that maybe the dust shouldn’t settle as it always does in her patient world of banality. So, as she tries to escape the consequences of blacking out in the bed of an underage boy and is then forced to attend a friend’s bridal party, she kicks up that dust again and things get, suffice it to say, crazy. Unfortunately, she chooses a rather inopportune time to make a change, destroying friendships and altering lives in the process. All in a days work, right? Despite her rampage to re-awaken herself on the path to a post-quarter life crisis, she discovers that it’s actually one small deed, done in the shadows of her blacked out memory from the night before, that is the key to accepting herself and her own life. What does it even mean to be a 30 yr old these days? It’s all some continuous construct that loops forever, unchanging. Many of us think we are going our own ways when, in the end, we’re all following the same predestined path. Jaded, broken, and full of problems. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve all been there, are there and will be there. It’s a part of creating identity. This is what Sarah is struggling with: identity, self-worth, and breaking the mold. As another Sarah, no, I’m not projecting. But I’m inspired. What defines “extraordinary” anyways? When Sarah gets caught by the mother of that 16 yr old, she chooses an alias to disguise her true identity: Juliette Payette, an astronaut with a list of successes that reads like a fantasy novel. And it’s from there that Sarah’s seemingly ordinary life spirals out of control to become something not so ordinary and maybe even slightly extraordinary. And sometimes this discovery comes at one’s lowest moment, when we’re unaware and unable to truly accept who we are meant to be. But it eventually comes, and from one Sarah to another, I say bravo.  

Though we saw dozens of short films at the Indie Street Film Festival last summer, there were a few extra special ones that went above and beyond in terms of visual and narrative prowess. Filmmaker Doug Roland’s official selection “Jada” was definitely one of those films that hit it out of the park for us. The 16-min short tells the spirited and heartfelt story of Jada (Kaycie Bowens), a young girl living alone and scraping by on Venice Beach, selling handcrafted wood people and exploring when, where and what she wants. With an upbeat attitude and glowing personality, it’s hard to see the obvious negativity of her situation. And yeah, well, a solo 7-yr old girl fending for herself - there’s definitely a bigger story hiding here. Yet, despite the initial hidden drama, this little girl beams off the screen, successfully carrying a story that should probably be far beyond her means. This doesn’t feel like the story of a victim. It feels more like one of a survivor. One you want to root for and take care of, but one you also don’t want to tie down.Roland directs Kaycie Bowens well, placing her silhouetted profile against one of the most gorgeous sunsets/sunrises I’ve ever seen in a film, burning an incredible image into the minds of the audience. This is the image of a powerful spirit, one that can’t be bound. When child services and a mysterious man get involved in Jada's life, we finally get to know a little more about her background. The hidden drama is exposed. When we discover he wants to give her a different kind of chance at life, it’s then that everything becomes complete in a special kind of way. “Jada” seems to present a story that it never intended to conclude in a straight-forward manner. And that is what's perfect about it. Because in the end, I think we know everything will be okay. And if it won’t be okay? Well, that’s the power of a great film: one that leaves you wondering and remembering all the same. As they say in the film, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Everyone gets to their intended destination eventually. Discover Jada’s story and watch Roland’s touching film today!  

Featured Short: Cesar Netto's "Satúrnica"

Happy New Year! Sure, we’re all welcoming 2017 with open arms and hearts, but just because we’ve left 2016 in the dust doesn’t mean we can’t think back to days of yore…at least in a filmic sense. The past influences the future, so it seems fitting to start off a hopeful new year of films by revisiting one of my absolute favorite short films from 2013. A true Brazilian gem, "Satúrnica" is a perfectly bizarre, surreal film that absolutely glows with its own unique sense of relatability and humanity. There's something magical about this short, at once both sad and beautiful. That "something" is intangible and slightly unexplainable but yet, continues to stay with me like a dream.  “Satúrnica” is a character study on a woman (one that is, perhaps, representative of our concept of women in general) as she starts to develop a strange compulsion throughout her life. Her desire manifests itself as a secret appetite and craving for an object that, let’s just say, doesn’t quite belong in one’s mouth. Ana, played by a beautifully captivating Maria Manoella, is both heartbreaking and breathtaking to watch in the evolution of this role. With the help of an affecting, disembodied narrator, voiced by well-known Brazilian actor Milhem Cortaz, this unusual short comes out of left field but is still somehow able to project a rational and very real level of emotions in which an audience can fully connect. Ana’s appetite, though unexpected, is something that maybe, just maybe, we can all relate to as humans with oft-suppressed and buried desires. With a soft, whimsical palette and dreamy cinematography, "Satúrnica" is for an audience that is based in reality but is always interested in discovering something deeper below the surface. In one of my absolute favorite short films of all time, director Cesar Netto has created an extremely underrated story that, like Ana's compulsion, feels like a little secret - one that I’m truly excited to share with Indie Street audiences!  

Featured Short: "Whale Valley"

In only the most beautiful moments can you start to truly understand the excruciating feeling of pain. Why? To find the void, it's all in the contrast. If you find love only in the light, what happens when darkness is introduced? If music is what soothes your stress, how does the silence cripple you? Contrast is written all over the Cannes special mention, award-winning short and recent Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere, “Whale Valley”. This is an Icelandic/Danish portrait of two young brothers and their deep bond - one formed off the harshness of their land as well as imposed societal/familial expectations. The rural landscape and chilled environment drive our characters, pushing them to emotional extremes. Filmmaker Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson knows these feelings well, having grown up in a dark, remote fishing village in Iceland. A place that naturally carved a sense of isolation into everyone’s upbringing, according to Guðmundsson, you weren’t allowed to show weakness as a young boy. “Whale Valley” touches upon that concept, showing the audience a dark, dreary life amongst otherworldly beauty - a mix that threatens to destroy the very emotional and physical existence of these two brothers. When the younger brother accidentally interrupts his older brother's suicide attempt, secrets are kept until pressure can no longer be contained and their lives are changed forever.  I don't think there has been a more beautiful, cinematic short film released this year. The cinematography and everything here seems to come from another distant world, packaged up and served to a hungry audience. They try to savor it but it’s just so damn gorgeous that their visual taste buds become overpowered. We can’t comprehend but we sit back and we try to be worthy. “Whale Valley” is a treat beyond words, best enjoyed in feeling. Even within the story, words are hardly necessary, just an innate human ability to see the beauty in the contrast: light vs dark, life vs death. The icing on the cake? A "whale" of a scene that you won’t believe is real. A rare, maybe 1-2 times a year occurrence in Iceland becomes forever cemented on film for all to see. An emotionally gut-wrenching and timelessly shot film, do yourself a favor and watch “Whale Valley” on Vimeo today!  

2017 Indie Street Film Festival CALL FOR ENTRIES!

It’s happening! The second annual Indie Street Film Festival submission kick off is here! Set to take place July 26-30, 2017 in beautiful Red Bank, New Jersey, submissions are now being accepted through Withoutabox and FilmFreeway. Short. Feature. Animation. Documentary. Narrative. You got a film? We want to see it! Join us on our journey to bring the best of the best to NJ audiences!  ISFF aims to discover the most innovative and resourceful storytellers, while also presenting special screenings that celebrate the best in Independent Cinema, past, present and future. The festival expects attendees from around the world but will maintain the grit and hard-working attitude that both New Jersians and Independent filmmakers have shared for decades. The first annual Indie Street Film Festival took place from July 6-10, 2016 and featured 75 new independent feature films, short films, animation and documentaries from nearly 30 different countries. The festival also featured panel discussions, filmmaker Q&A’s, live art and music performances throughout the town.  Since ISFF is more geared towards cooperation than competition, all feature films accepted into the festival will be awarded the opportunity to join Indie Street as a partner filmmaker and be promoted through its VOD platform. Winners from each feature film category will also have the choice to enjoy a minimum 1-week theatrical release in NYC. Short film winners from each category will be considered for co­op inclusion and will be presented and promoted through the Indie Street platform.  We’re looking for Narrative Features, Documentaries and Short Films (narrative, documentary and animation) that highlight innovative storytelling and quality production value, in spite of restrictive budgets. There is also a sidebar of “Jersey Films” either shot in NJ or made by filmmakers from the Garden State. Films must have been completed no earlier than January 1, 2016. Get to submitting!  For more information, please visit  

Featured Short Doc: Zack Godshall's THE BOATMAN

Simplicity. Sometimes all it takes is the oft-emotionally jarring grit of reality to form a story that will linger long within both your mind and your heart. The true story in filmmaker Zack Godshall's short documentary "The Boatman" brings us into that kind of narrative realm. A beautiful little doc, "The Boatman" follows the story of Joseph and Selina Gonzales as they approach their wedding anniversary and reflect back on years of living outside the flood walls of Yscloskey Beach, LA. With intense yet soft spoken power, this story had me crying my eyes out by the end. Though I do have an emotional weakness for the elderly, this film goes far deeper than that. It's more than just a tale of an old man, the loss of eyesight and his unfinished boat. It's a portrait of an aged, weary couple, one that has seen and lived through so much, that has managed to hold onto their continuing sense of love, perseverance and endurance. After losing a daughter as well as living through Hurricane Katrina, these two still find a cause for celebration. And what a reason to celebrate - it’s their 71st wedding anniversary! It's all very much like a strange, beautiful little flower born from saturated soils caused by Hurricanes, death, health issues and just life in general. If you don't have your tissues out and handy by this point, feel free to just use your shirt sleeve because if this all doesn't dig deep into your soul, you probably don't have one. In the end, it doesn't matter whether this film was perfect or not (by the way, it's pretty perfect). What matters is the joy of knowing that this story is preserved on the medium of the moving image for years to come. Jump aboard and watch "The Boatman" NOW!  

Featured Short: All Eyes Peeled on "The Procedure"

“A man is kidnapped and forced to endure a strange experiment.”  Kidnapping? Strange experiment? Sound enticing? Well, I’m sitting here staring at my computer screen, thinking about where to begin on this review of “The Procedure”. Sure, there are thousands upon thousands of adjectives in the dictionary. A thesaurus can also come in handy quite often. And yet, I can’t find that one perfect, all-encompassing word to describe filmmaker Calvin Lee Reeder’s…how can I put it?…insane, genius, disgusting, fascinating, peculiar, hilarious, bizarre, curious and well, extremely polarizing, description-defying short film, “The Procedure”. Winner of this year’s Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction at Sundance Film Festival, this oddball little short exists in a filmic world all its own, employing a kinda genreless plot of proportions beyond epic. An official Indie Street Film Festival selection this past summer, a few “butts” may have gotten up from their seats during the screening. Do I blame them? In some cases, no. But did they miss out? Absolutely. Isn’t that the challenge (and half the fun) of challenging your audience? Make them squirm, laugh, feel disgusted - just make them feel something and have them remember that feeling for some time after the credits roll. That’s what the genius of “The Procedure” offers.  ISFF’s own Artistic Director, Jay Webb, described the film as “one of the craziest, funniest, awesomest, sickest, can't stop laughingest films of the year“. If that doesn’t sum it all up, I don’t quite know what will. It’s like that one friend we all have - you can’t take them anywhere but you know, in the end, they will always be the life of the party in their own weird little way. Love to hate, hate to love. We could sit here all day trying to wrap our minds around the on-screen procedure that is featured within “The Procedure”, but you know what? We’ll stop here. Best to go in blindly on this one, guys. Get ready to take your usual film tastes on one heck of a visual adventure. At just under 4 mins long, what could possibly go wrong?! Watch the recent Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere “The Procedure” NOW!  

Maria's Pick: Nelly Kate's "Unreceived"

Happy November! Looks like the holiday season is finally upon us! And while it's that time of the year again when many of us become merry and full of cheer, there's a chance you might need an escape from all of the hustle and bustle of seasonal shopping crowds, festivities, Christmas music and decorations. Our monthly music video collaboration with Maria Dicieanu, Submarine Channel author & former editor, may just offer the getaway you need! Maria's Pick for November brings you into a zen, chill space while also serving up a healthy, lovely dose of visuals and musical perfection. Soak up the sparkling ambience of Jordan Bruner's eye-popping, abstract video for Nelly Kate’s tune “Unreceived”, a collaboration that practically (well, literally) glitters. Maria describes her newest pick below:  “She doesn't do music videos on a regular basis, but when digital artist and gifs mastermind Jordan Bruner has a go at promos, the results are nothing short of spectacular. From Hem's “Tourniquet” - portraying a love story between two forest foxes exploring the wilderness of a city ran by animals, to the eclectic psychedelic PacMan-ish animations for Paramore's “Anklebiters”, her works are mesmerizing mashups of eclectic shapes and colors with a touch of cutting edge originality. In her most recent promo, a collaboration with Nelly Kate, Bruner delivers her most abstract music video yet. “Unreceived” sums up a series of looping visuals Jordan made for the singer's summer tour. The different fragments blend together beautifully, cohesively portraying a story about the disintegration of processes through repetition. The fuzzy visuals brilliantly enhance and compliment the song's story dealing with a couple's struggle to fight the routine out of their relationship. Using simple yet intriguing shapes, Burner once again creates a fascinating yet haunting piece that can have you hypnotized for hours.”  If you've yet to see any of Bruner’s work or hear this month's pick, experiencing the combination of the two together for the first time means you're in for a real treat. So, get ready to immerse yourself in this glittering goodness. While you're at it, you can revisit some of Maria's best picks, including the stunning animated journey that makes up Makeunder's "Great Headless Bank" (created by Carine Khalife). See you next month, as we wrap up 2016 with another wondrous pick! Enjoy!  

   About Maria: "Multimedia in Human Form. Media researcher. Journalist. Filmmaker. PR and Social Media Mind. Cinephille. TV Shows aficionado. Books Lover. Music Video guru and former curator of the project"

“Movies don't always go as planned but no matter what, people talk."  While that's the synopsis for this week’s featured short film, it sorta seems relevant to life in general, no? While not everything always goes according to plan, sometimes, just sometimes, you can count on people to be themselves...whether that’s a good thing or bad thing. When filmmaker/cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell returns to her hometown neighborhood to make a film about the locals as they hang out and shoot the shit, she finds the normal conversation and hustle and bustle that attracted her there to make the film in the first place….well…gone. However, though the usual activity seems to be in hibernation, the genius of these neighborhood personalities peeks out from underneath the covers and gives us a pleasantly delightful and quirky little film in a genre all its own. An official selection at this year’s Indie Street Film Festival, you better believe “Small Talk” walks the walk and talks the talk in only the biggest ways.  “Small Talk” first gained attention on the festival circuit this year when it was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance Film Festival’s Digital Bolex Fearless Filmmaking Showcase Awards. If there was ever a short doc to adore and root for, it would be this one. And why? Because it’s simple, unpretentious and fun - with a personality that is anything but small. The bumps along the way only add more character for the audience to eat up. The voice, the layout, pretty much everything stumbles and manages to land gracefully scene by scene. Also a talented artist, Campbell’s unique attitude makes this little ol’ film a lot more enjoyable knowing that a good-hearted independent, female creator was on the other side of the camera. In addition to all of this, it also helped me to realize that the families reminded me a lot of my own flesh and blood, so it’s relatable in a way - and whether that’s a positive or negative indication of my own personal life, well, that's a discussion for another day. Randomness and spontaneity meet in the middle and create a filmic spark that you should totally watch. “Small Talk” is available now on Vimeo - see what all the Indie Street Film Festival talk was about and watch now!