In a world saturated with new technologies, constantly changing the playing field within the animation industry, it’s refreshing to find something that not only resembles a style of ole but also offers a charming story and set of personalities that feel vaguely reminiscent of TV characters from my youth. Like an odd couple vying for the most annoying spot in each others’ lives, "Life with Herman H. Rott" gives us a rat-cat music loving duo that are anything but normal. Herman is a black rat, large and in charge - a dirty, rough-edged smoker with a penchant for rock music. One day, a quite clean little classical music loving white cat, dainty and meticulous, waltzes through his door with everything she owns, changing his entire world. A battle of space, music, personality and dominance plays out, resulting in an animalistic comedy of errors battle that builds up until it explodes in a very human way. Maybe rat and cat are not so different from each other or from us, eh? Hand drawn on paper and shot with a photo camera, all of the coloring here was done digitally, giving the animation a sort of mid-century, cyan faded film look. There’s a dreamy edge to the film - everything communicated with music and their dueling styles. In that way, the soundtrack is a third character, bringing life to our two characters and filling the void between them with something a human audience can connect with. Something else humans can understand? Well, according to Estonian filmmaker Chintis Lundgren, the rat and cat are stand-ins for how humans function in unhealthy relationships, seeking out the bad guys, forcing them to change, and then moving onto the next challenge when there’s nothing left to manipulate. The nice guys finish last, isn’t that what they say? What doesn’t finish last is this film. A pure gem and true winner deserving of all the medals and accolades it has earned on the festival circuit and online. A funky little animation with a heart of gold and an unexpected ending well worth checking out!
We’re ecstatic that it’s that time of the month again! A time when we can sit back and not only enjoy a great new tune, but also take in some rather innovative and intellectually stimulating visual eye candy to go along with it. Our collaboration with Maria Dicieanu, Submarine Channel author & former 2Pause.com editor, has already introduced us to a wealth of jaw-dropping music videos. From interactive videos to ones that combine live action with animation, the offerings have been nothing short of visually and musically astounding. Maria’s pick for August is just as impressive! Selah Sue’s Always Home (Sörry Remix) music video, directed by Filip Sterckx, is a beautiful display of light and dark, perfectly complementing the tone of the song. Using good ol’ optical illusions mixed with intricate post-production manipulation, this music video transforms the viewing experience into something mesmerizing. Maria describes her pick: You might remember Belgian director Filip Sterckx from his 3 beamers brilliant play resulting in the super viral internet sensation “Sweater” music video for Willow. Back then it was already quite obvious optical illusions were his thing, but who knew his work would become so polished and sleek in the meantime. In Selah Sue's “Always Home” the light bulbs are the heroes. A slow-paced darkness/light alternation uncovers the spectacular church with the impressive columns and white statues. Unseemingly, the bulbs start to multiply in a charismatic choreography that invades the space and resembles light painting. The more they uncover the more surreal their presence becomes. Wrapped up in a very atmospheric cinematography, the promo continues to somehow linger on long after the song has finished which is quite fitting for a work emphasizing the beauty of light. Regarding the making of the video, the director explains on his Vimeo page: “I had the actor swing the light in slow mo, and we had other takes in which he run up and down with a light on a pole through the church, completely dressed in black. In post I duplicated the video many times, and then time shifted the different layers, and then layered them in a way that only the bright parts of the image were added." With work such as “Sweater” and “Always Home” up his sleeves, we can't wait to see what else Streckx will dream up and turn out next! He has definitely entered the Indie Street radar of ones to watch. Get hypnotized in the most peaceful and pleasant of ways by watching the video here. Until next time!
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 2Pause.com project"
For this week’s featured short, Indie Street is trying something a teeny bit different - both in terms of concept inception and storyline. Lauren Wolkstein’s “Beemus, It’ll End in Tears” is more than just a kooky little experimental narrative short that’ll leave you feeling oddly nostalgic for a PE class of yesteryear. Is the feeling of watching this short akin to a dream or deja vu? Well, if it helps wrap your mind around it, the short actually exists as part of a larger feature film compilation project called "collective:unconscious”! Five talented and adventurous up-and-coming indie filmmakers (click here for the full roster) joined forces to adapt each other's stories. And by stories, I mean, well, dreams. Yes, you read correctly. "collective:unconscious” explores highly imaginative and creative individuals’ interpretations of their fellow filmmakers sometimes kooky, bizarre, serious, philosophical and/or downright randomly delightful nighttime brain journeys. To put it simply, each of the filmmakers had dreams and those dreams were then imagined on screen by one of the other five. The result is a feature film compilation unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And as of August the 9th, you can enjoy the full feature and SXSW hit for free via Vimeo. In this subsequent segment of the feature, director Lauren Wolkstein adapts Frances Bodomo's dream. The synopsis is basically described as this: “My PE class and I are stuck in a volcano and we’re being made to drink hair in soap water to stop from getting blown up by the volcano-master (who has a walrus mustache).” With that material, Wolkstein delivers us a stylized, vaguely Wes Anderson looking short that goes somewhere you totally weren’t expecting. Suddenly, the awkward nightmarish role of gym class comes flooding back in a way you can't quite put your finger on. Was it all just a dream? A new way of seeing things that are sometimes only visually known in our own heads, Wolkstein’s “Beemus, It’ll End in Tears” is a great teaser to the full film, one imaged by Producer Dan Schoenbrun, Former Senior Film Outreach Lead At Kickstarter. So, what are you waiting for? This is a bold new form of storytelling on film that must be watched to believe! Check out the short, sleep on it (sweet dreams indeed!) and why not check out the full compilation of other shorts here! (Hint: starting with the Bodomo's one line blurb above before watching the film is a pretty nifty way of comparing the final product with your own vision of the dream.) Want to watch even more amazing short films? Make sure to check out some of the best, right here on Indie Street!
"As E.I. units, we are doomed to love." Poignant words from the narrated thoughts of an artificial lifeform. But in "ei: emotional intelligence", filmmaker Dennis Sungmin Kim's first year film at the University of Pennsylvania, we aren't just dealing with the simple concept of artificial intelligence. No, this is about something much deeper than that - going beyond what you would expect from the normal concept of A.I. on film. "ei: emotional intelligence" is a seriously impressive feat that succeeds so beautifully within its uniquely delicate animated style and story. And how does it manage to stand out? By injecting the A.I. concept with something novel yet really, very simple: emotions. Representing far more than robotic and lifeless technology, this animation follows the story of Arthur and his female companion, two E.I. units - AKA Emotional Intelligence units - that try to live and feel beyond the confines of their created existence. Going a step further than their otherworldly IQ's, mathematical way of thinking, and futuristic, virtual landscapes, their story plays out like a love letter to humankind and where we may be headed. And it does so in such a honest way, with words building a world around the colors and lines of sweet, colorfully stylistic animation. Complementing the impressive gadgetries of A.I. are real emotions - the ones that challenge us, make us weak and eventually give us strength. Like a rhythmic poem or a finely crafted classical tune, "ei: emotional intelligence" relaxes its viewers through its narration - covering a wide spectrum of thoughts and feelings along the way. We promise you those feelings will keep echoing long after the last frame. With his pulse on great personal design and unique narrative style, Dennis Sungmin Kim's ten month endeavour turned into a first year film that #1) he should be extremely proud of and #2) you should watch right now! And while you're at it, why not check out more of the best short films on the web!
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!
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival along with a slew of other awards, including the first ever Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short at our very own Indie Street Film Festival, Jim Cummings’ short “Thunder Road” has earned an impressive reputation. A cleverly directed and produced continuous one-shot film starring Cummings as an uptight cop at his own mother’s funeral, "Thunder Road" also stars a rather memorable eulogy involving one rather popular Springsteen song you won't soon forget. Perfectly executed from its sobering beginning to its hilarious yet touching finale, this a short film that balances both a tragic and comedic air so well that it seems to mesh into a completely new genre by the end. Outside of all its festival wins, “Thunder Road” also gained recognition online when Cummings was granted digital rights to the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name, after he put out an open letter to the musical icon and record label that circulated the internet. Why did he do this? Simply to be able to release the film on Vimeo - for free to the public! And this is what he did. Today. So, now we can all enjoy this perfectly paced eulogy as it all goes to pieces and evolves into one of the greatest dance scenes ever committed to a short film. A personal favorite of all of us over at Indie Street, we can’t recommend “Thunder Road” enough. Bill Augustin, ISFF Programming Director, stated: "Told in a single take, on the surface "Thunder Road" could be written off as a simple short more akin to a one act play than an award-worthy film. However, the emotional journey Jim Cummings takes us on through his mesmerizing performance and ultra-focused direction allows this pitch black comedy to transcend its simple concept. It was no surprise to us on the ISFF staff when the esteemed jury chose to honor it with the award for best narrative short." "Thunder Road” is now available to watch on Vimeo for free here! Give this clever, ridiculous and moving short a watch (or 2 or 3) and then spread the love and share it with everyone you know!
Usually attracted to a more straightforward approach to either the drama or comedy genre in narrative film, it’s hard for me to be truly impressed by something that tries to be both emotional and unique. It’s difficult to find a perfect balance between those qualities without getting too sappy or too weird. Color me shocked when I watched “We Keep On Dancing” and had to almost wipe a stray tear from my still smiling face. A surprising little film with an all male cast, this film turns your typical masculine roles on their head while never getting too gimmicky - it stays honest and real in such a fun, touching manner. The film follows a distinct mix of characters, from your typical car mechanics to a lonely old man, and brings them together over a Volkswagen Beetle that has seemingly reached the end of its life. Unfortunately, it's not just the car that this old man has recently lost and this is where the film switches gears (no pun intended)! Featured on Short of the Week as well as winner of ‘Best Live Action Narrative Under 15 Minutes’ award at Palm Springs International ShortFest Film Festival, “We Keep On Dancing" is a sweet, charming little beaut of a film that I couldn't recommend enough! With a crew that was restricted to using a single 18mm lens to shoot the film, you can almost reach out and feel the shifts in emotions playing out on screen from shot to shot. Don't quote me, but it's probably the loveliest film about car trouble you will ever find! Watch writer Rhys Mitchell and filmmaker Jessica Barclay Lawton's film here! Want to watch even more amazing short films? Make sure to check out some of the best right here on Indie Street!
We've had such an amazing time learning about new and innovative music videos through our monthly collaboration with Maria Dicieanu, Submarine Channel author & former 2Pause.com editor! We've been introduced to exciting and eye-opening offerings, including the interactive video for the late Jeff Buckley's cover of “Just Like a Woman” and last month's music video for “Be So Glad” by Jaimeo Brown Transcendence. This month Maria presents an awe-inspiring video from the young but already legendary music video director Romain Gavras. The artist? Jamie XX. The song? "Gosh". The outcome? Jaw-dropping. Check out Maria's breakdown of "Gosh" and why it was her July pick: "Whenever Romain Gavras directs, the 'world' (as in 'music video aficionados') seems to stand still and 'listen' (a.k.a 'check out the outcome'). And for good reason, as his latest futuristic and heavily CGI-ed masterpiece confirms. Jamie XX joins the ranks of 'the lucky few artists' to have a music video conceived by this French 'enfant terrible', thus mingling with the likes of M.I.A, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Justice, DJ Mehdi and The Last Shadow Puppets. “Gosh” is just as haunting and mesmerizing as Born Free, Stress and No Church in the Wild. Showcasing a decadent dystopian Paris (while actually being filmed in China in front of a replica of the Eiffel Tower), the music video makes brilliant use of choreography managing to perfectly coordinate the dance of over 400 extras. The cinematography is nothing short of spectacular as well not only due to the very atmospheric look, but also thanks to the very elaborated shots going from ground level all the way up in the air. Even more, Gavras brilliantly mixes and mingles iconic elements from his previous works such as the car stunts from “Bad Girls”, the high buildings from “Stress” and protagonists having a very particular hair color like in “Born Free”. This prompts “Gosh” to not only be viewed and interpreted as an individual piece but also in relation to the directors' previous music videos. The self reflexivity highlights the unique phenomenon that Romain Gavras is in the music video environment, his specific directorial vision while ensuring that all his works are simply must sees!" This is one video that'll having you saying "Gosh!" in the most positive of ways by the end. It might just even warrant a few replays! If you aren't familiar with Gavras' work, this is a great place to start. Enjoy the spectacle & see you next month!
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 2Pause.com project"
Closing night at the first ever Indie Street Film Festival this weekend was a true highlight of the festival! We kicked things off with a beautiful awards ceremony at the Count Basie Theatre, honoring the filmmakers, staff and community that made the event a success. Immediately after the awards ceremony, the lights went down and the audience was greeted to quite the closing night film offering. ISFF was honored to bring filmmaker Ira Sachs' moving and often funny portrait of class and gentrification in Brooklyn to Red Bank audiences. "Little Men" is set for an early August release and we highly recommend catching this well-crafted gem of a story in theaters. The young actors behind the two little men of the title, Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri, are absolute ones to watch! Check out the trailer for the film here!
A crowd favorite at the midnight shorts program at SXSW, “Seth” is a comedy beyond outrageous. Honestly, it’s hard to find the exact words to describe this bizarre film from first-time writer and director Zach Lasry. Watch the film. Scratch your head. Ask yourself, “What the hell did I just watch?!” And then take a moment to reflect and finally realize that the film is genius in its otherwordly, imaginative way of holding nothing back. I found “Seth” somewhat relatable in a totally non-relatable way and I can’t really describe why. I encourage to go into the film blindly, expect the unexpected and then maybe you’ll understand. It’s all about the character here and the comedic structure built around him. Logan George plays this role in a performance like none other. The film follows the story of Seth, a demented, grown man-child that finally completes all his daily goals, surrounded by the support of his only friends, his stuffed animal collection. Unfortunately, his final goal of impressing his father becomes an adventure of self-worth and pride that Seth will stop at nothing to complete. From a luxurious four course spread of corn products to a reenactment of the Godfather, the one thing that finally brings the two together is best left unsaid and better watched. Find out the secret to father-son bonding and watch the hilariously insane film now!
Since I’m having intense withdrawals from my amazing time at the 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival, it helps to think back on highlights from my jam-packed, film-crazy two weeks in my favorite city in the world. I saw both gems and duds but the one film that definitely stuck out to me as an upcoming must-watch was the New Zealand comedy “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”. Writer/director Taika Waititi’s hilarious yet charming film follows the story of the unwanted, troublemaker orphan Ricky, played brilliantly by young actor, Julian Dennison. When Ricky gets one last opportunity to prove himself by staying with a family situated deep within the New Zealand countryside, it’s not long before his defiance and bad luck streak strikes again. What follows is a misfit adventure through the wilderness that sees Ricky and his “uncle” (Sam Neill) spark a national man-hunt of epic proportions while learning a lot about each other along the way. Watch the trailer for the must see film now!