Featured Animation: HATE FOR SALE

Every so often I come across a short film that I will silently pass on to my fellow film loving friends. Key word: silently. I don’t need to try to sale the film or wax poetic about this or that, over using filmic language with my signature heavy-handed verbosity. No, sometimes I come across a true gem that doesn’t require my word vomit explanations. It takes just a simple: “Watch this. Trust me.”  This is exactly what I did after watching Anna Eijsbouts’ stop-motion cut out animation “Hate for Sale”. Created for the 2017 Visible Poetry Project using an original poem by Neil Gaiman, this short manages to sum up the world we live in, in just under 3 minutes. Eijsbouts’ chaotic, multi-colored style mixed with Gaiman’s honest text creates sheer, gorgeous magic. It’s cruel, unique, and brutally true. It’s beautiful and arresting. The harsh words about the state of society and our sadly inherent lust for hatefulness in contrast with narrator Peter Kenny’s theatrical yet comforting voice and the film's visual puppet master controlled carnival-esque world is pretty much perfect in a way you have to watch to totally grasp. Just a few days before discovering this film, I spent a morning at a puppet theater. It was like disappearing into a totally different world, full of strings and illusions. Like the 20+ other 3-year-old audience members, I was entranced, fooled even. Now, after a few viewings of “Hate for Sale”, I feel like I finally get it. I see the control that societal expectations have over us. It took a 2.5 min short and a Park Slope puppet theater to truly open my eyes. We all need to cut some strings.  So, yes, it seems I’ve run away again with my words! Neil Gaiman himself tweeted that he watched and “was floored”. And that’s enough for me. Just: Watch this. Trust me.  

Featured Short: ISFF 2017 Award-Winner BUSINESS

Oftentimes, I jump into a film without first consulting a synopsis. Other times, I’m hungry for a foundation of understanding going into a story. Now, with a vague title like “Business”, this is a short I definitely felt I needed relevant information on going into screening it. Well, here’s what I was met with: “A terrified young man gets caught up in a surreal and demoralizing "business opportunity." Will he make it out alive?” Nope, that synopsis didn't really help. But boy, the intrigue born after reading it made me beyond glad for the continued confusion I felt upon pressing play. This is one film that you’ve got to just let go of all rationality and logic to watch! Sound bizarre? Well, that adjective would only scratch the surface in describing filmmaker Kati Skelton’s aforementioned award-winning short film, "Business". Skelton’s display of “comedic vision” is such a special type of “comedic vision” that even the Narrative Jury at the 2017 Indie Street Film Festival created their own special award just to honor that…wait for it…."comedic vision”. This year's jury gushed over the unique brand of storytelling, acting and visual style on display. If quirky, funny, kooky, abstract, absurd, just plain weird (I could consult a thesarus and keep going with this....), is your cup of filmic tea, this hilarous short should be right up your alley. And let me tell you, it's a twisted yet fun little alley worth going down if just for the wild 8-min ride this film presents. I could go on, but let me not ruin the experience. And if you like what you see, you MUST watch Skelton's other short “Door on the Left” - just as absurd, just as enjoyable, just as comically perfect. Let go of following the rules of film and fall head first into a love rush with a very special brand of story! 

Another week, another NYC theatrical screening of an inaugural Indie Street Film Festival winner at IFC Center!! Just in time for the kick off of the second edition of ISFF this week (check out our 2017 schedule!!!!!!!), our 2016 Narrative Feature Jury Award Winner WOMEN WHO KILL opens this Wednesday, July 26! Writer/director/star/all-around-impressive-creator Ingrid Jungermann will be in attendance on opening night to do a Q&A! WOMEN WHO KILL blew away ISFF jury members and Red Bank audiences last summer and now it's your chance to catch the low key hilarious, mysterious dramedy on the big screen. Winner of best screenplay at the Tribeca Film Festival, indie film lovers are sure to well...LOVE...Jungermann’s story: "Commitment phobic Morgan and her ex-girlfriend Jean are locally famous true crime podcasters obsessed with female serial killers. There’s a chance they may still have feelings for each other, but co-dependence takes a back seat when Morgan meets the mysterious Simone during her Food Coop shift. Blinded by infatuation, Morgan quickly signs up for the relationship, ignoring warnings from friends that her new love interest is practically a stranger. When Jean shows Morgan proof that Simone may not be who she says she is, Morgan accuses Jean of trying to ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to her. But as she and Simone move into commitment territory, Morgan starts to notice red flags—maybe Jean was right and Simone isn’t as perfect as Morgan’s made her out to be. Morgan and Jean investigate Simone as if she were a subject of their podcast, they uncover disturbing clues—a death at the Food Coop, a missing friend, a murder weapon—leading them to suspect her not only of mystery, but of murder. In the end, Morgan has to examine all the evidence in front of her: Is she just afraid of what it means to be in a relationship or is her life actually in danger?"FUN FACT!: The film’s male actor is played brilliantly by none other than Indie Street Partner Filmmaker, Rodrigo Lopresti! You DON’T want to miss this award-winning indie and personal ISFF fav! Grab tickets fast and head over to IFC Center for more info. 

Featured Short: BALLOONFEST

In 1986, Cleveland had the totally rational idea of attemping to break the world record for the most amount of balloons released at one time. 1.5 million balloons to be exact. Seems fun, right? Well, this so called “fun” concept was declared Balloonfest 1986 and it really happened. As one would expect, at least in the year 2017, the release of well over 1 million balloons didn’t go as planned….at all. But really - when weather, simple fate and millions of unnatural pieces of floating debris are at play, what WOULD one expect? Imagine: an otherworldly mass of floating rainbow delight, overtaking skyscrapers, littering the sky, and then the water, with simultaneous happiness and questionable dread. A release of helium and good intentions with horrifying results that seems too ridiculous to be real. Welcome to America, folks. And welcome to BALLOONFEST, a real life story and masterful display of stellar storytelling using spot on researched, sourced and edited archival news footage. If you’ve not heard of what happened on that fateful day in 1986, I won’t spoil it for you but boy does it make a great film. I will just urge you to watch this short documentary NOW. With a running time of under 7-mins, I promise, you’re gonna feel a lot of things in a short amount of time: childlike nostalgia, whimsical thrill, and….what the f*ck?! Filmmaker Nathan Truesdell proves you can create a simple yet jaw-droppingly impressive story using only the archive. One of my favorites of the year, BALLOONFEST is a low key hilarious and depressing feat that is a total MUST WATCH if you’re a lover of great film, balloons, the 1980s, craziness, or just….human stupidity.   

This is just a friendly Indie Street reminder to let you know that TONIGHT is the THEATRICAL PREMIERE of Jason Zeldes jaw-droppingly inspirational documentary ROMEO IS BLEEDING! Zeldes film was appropriately named the inaugural documentary feature jury winner at last year’s Indie Street Film Festival and our team CANNOT wait for the world (or at least New York City for now!) to see this touching, motivational story on the big screen. From Executive Producer Russell Simmons and Director Jason Zeldes, comes an award-winning documentary following Donté Clark, a young poet transcending the violence in his hometown by writing about his experiences. Growing up in Richmond, CA, a city haunted by a fatal turf war, Donté and the like-minded youth of the city mount an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with the hope of starting a dialogue about violence in the city. Will Richmond crush Donté’s idealism? Or will Donté end Richmond’s cycle of trauma? The screening tonight at IFC Center (starting at 7:15pm) will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and subject of the film, Donté Clark. Can’t make it tonight? No problem! The film runs today through July 25th at IFC. For more info and tickets, click here. And if you plan on stopping by (you'd be crazy not to), say hi to the ISFF team that will be in attendance, repping and promoting next week’s second edition of the fest!  

Featured Short: The Heart-Stopping CURVE

Nightmares: often things we personally fear that creep into our dreams at night or circumstances that, across the board, threaten the fragility of human nature. Spiders. Monsters. Psycho clowns. Teeth falling out. Things of this sort. One of the most common threats to a decent night sleep? That recurring theme of falling, jolting you awake, back into reality - helpless and hopeless, if only for a split second. Tim Egan’s 10-min film CURVE (either a horror, thriller or experimental film depending on how you choose to watch it) perfectly portrays this feeling through a real life (though slightly metaphorical) scenario. Our physically doomed protagonist is bloodied, injured and clinging on (to pretty much a smooth, curved surface) for dear life. As far as we can tell, there’s simply no escape - no way out alive and no answer found within the abyss below. But endurance in the face of total destruction can surprise you, and we are left with one of those open-ended conclusions that will either leave you gasping or cursing at the screen. But only in that pleasurable way watching a good film seems to conjure.Egan was actually inspired to make this film after learning about the emotional struggle of a grieving friend, where “the only good moments of her day [were] the seconds after she woke up”. As long as you are human (and have inherent flaws from being such), CURVE will make you feel something. Whether fear, disgust, tension, hopelessness, you are left with no relief, even at the end. It’s that heart-stopping, stomach-churning feeling you get when you momentarily forget the pain and then reality comes rushing back. There’s so much to find within this film, but the best way to enjoy it is to simply just press play and go all in for the experience. Be the protagonist - feel what she feels, think as she thinks, and ask yourself - what would you do in the face of your own inevitable end? 


Sometimes you judge a book by its cover. Sometimes you judge a film by its title. And with a short film like “Fill Your Heart with French Fries”, let’s just say: guilty as charged. But can you blame me?! With such an intriguing moniker, I knew there was no way I could be disappointed - and was I ever on point! While “Fill Your Heart with French Fries” may be a grab bag of online millennial references (Instagram, going viral, sponsored apparel, even a buzzfeed shout out!) it doesn’t have the pretentiousness that often comes along with the subject matter. A few minutes in and the film finds that fine balance between being too relevant and becoming timeless. Filmmaker Tamar Glezerman’s story of a break-up and the resulting heartbreak in these modern times of general romantic confusion is hilarious and yet still a quiet, low-key, eye-opening examination of simply being…human.  Based on the true story of a Chinese woman who stayed behind at a KFC for SEVEN full days after her boyfriend dumped her, Glezerman keeps the heart of the narrative but changes a few details. In her rendition, the dumped girl is American, a lesbian and the location is a fictional fast food restaurant named FryBaby's, totally created from scratch! Imagine being too sad to go home, never leaving the confines of a restaurant that prides itself on its fried “cuisine”. And somehow becoming a viral sensation after eating fries for a full week - without a shower or change of clothing. Is this a life low point or a life high point? Well, this is what is beautifully explored in the sad-comedy “Fill Your Heart with French Fries”. Commit to the full 20 minutes of the film (and stay for the surprise credits!) and you’ll be rewarded. A super sized order of comfort watching at its finest, with a side of heartbreak, viral catchiness and of course….fries!   

Is it an animated tutorial? A quick guide to creativity? Or a piece of art in itself? Whatever it is, it’s inspiring and looks pretty swell! And how fitting its title is!: “The Ultimate Guide to Inspiration”. If you’re feeling creatively uninspired and blocked or just a bit down and in need of a visual lift, BLND’s super short slick reminder regarding fear and inspiration is a must watch. A few days ago, we shared Simon Cade of DSLRguide’s video "Why Artists Are Never Happy”. We think this is the perfect companion piece if you’re a creative that has hit your emotional or artistic wall. Oh, and the animation style is absolutely stellar and not to be missed. Even if you’re not suffering from a creative lag, you’ll find something to visually love. As the video states, you gotta walk into the world, ready to be inspired. Take the first step and watch BLND’s inspirational-inspiration video now! This is one animation Indie Street is totally loving!  

Featured Short Film: UNREMARKABLE

Many films are just okay. Some are great. The rare few: jaw dropping. The even more rare few: *insert profanity/colorful vocabulary of choice* amazing. Other films are just bad. Really terrible. Downright horrible. Unwatchable. “I must clean my eyes of this filth immediately” level bad. And then sometimes, sometimes there are films that are simply unremarkable … and yet, ironically, end up being some of the best films you’ve seen all year. “But how?!” you exclaim incredulously in your head. This strange concoction of style, story and substance (in this case: showing the audience an everyday occurrence turned into something not quite so mundane on screen) is exactly what filmmaker Jared Anderson has brewed up with his new short “Unremarkable”. This is one AFI thesis that goes above and beyond what you thought a student film could be.  “Unremarkable” plays out almost orchestral. Tiny movements strung together to build up into a melody…to die for. A song of death, performed visually: an unnamed woman, clearly in fear, gets out of her car and proceeds to immediately fall to the ground, dead. In a city parking lot. Before we get any answers, Anderson shows us the process of well, basically dying in the most honest, straightforward way. From a 911 call, police presence, an autopsy, funeral preparations (WARNING: beware graphic scenes of dead woman having her innards taking out), a chatty forensic team member, the wake - the everyday process of dealing with the base level of death plays out. 1 dead woman of many. Unremarkable? Maybe on paper, but on film, anything but. The inevitable faces us as a (beautifully shot!) visually dissected reminder that we, too, will one day go through the same motions our unfortunate protagonist is put through. We just won’t be alive to enjoy the science and beauty that goes into the process of finality.  In the end, when we get our answers as to who this woman was and what happened to her, it almost doesn’t matter anymore. We already starting caring about her some time between when her body was sliced open, makeup was applied to her lifeless face and her grieving family looked down upon her dead body in a casket. A truly remarkable film that proves, while we are just one of billions, we all have a story. 

Featured Short: Lance Edmands' STRAYS

How can a physical place change or impact things? Change or impact us? When we attempt to escape our problems by physically running away, is anything ever truly solved? This is what is explored in Lance Edmands’ quiet, patient little short film “Strays”. After getting some life changing news, a young woman from Brooklyn attempts to flee her responsibilities and relationship troubles by running away to her late grandmother’s neglected upstate home. Unfortunately, she discovers she’s not the only one seeking refuge in the old house. As strays of both the human and canine variety make an appearance in her life, we, as a curious audience, are left wondering: who is really the stray here? Who is really free?  Edmands’ beautiful, low-key drama instantly draws you in with its 16mm look and feel. If you find yourself fatigued and/or overwhelmed from consuming too much online media, sometimes all you need is to watch a great film (inherently already gorgeous in terms of story and substance) shot on film to fall back in love with the medium. And “Strays” is the perfect one to lull you into a much needed peaceful state of 16mm indie film loving!  

Welcome to...Tuesday. Not quite the middle of the work week yet. Just the beginning enough to really start feeling the slog of the days ahead. Why not visually get away for a bit and escape into an animation we are totally loving this week??: Miao Jing/Hibanana Studio’s newest animation “Hills Beyond a River”, featuring music by Mickey Zhang&WHAI, will take you far away from that suffocating work state of mind. Its trippy style will do its job to amaze, free and distract you for a few minutes before bringing you dizzyingly back down to reality. Skirt your responsibilities, barrel ahead towards the weekend and get hypnotized by “Hills Beyond a River” now!