“Oh Lucy!”, an International Short Film Jury Winner at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, eluded me throughout its award-winning run on the festival circuit and even for a few months on Vimeo on Demand. However, I’ve finally caught it and oh, the reward of patience is so sweet. Japanese Filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi has created, while fairly long, a short that builds up in the most unexpectedly unnerving and darling of ways. I can't remember the last time I had such a response to a film: smiling, yet all the while, feeling a strange, dull ache in my heart. "Oh Lucy!", even in its quirkiest, goofiest of moments, kept me grounded in an eye-opening reality. Setsuko (played by Kaori Momoi), a middle-aged office worker in Tokyo, finds herself slightly forced into taking English language lessons by her fast-talking, persuasive niece. While at first hesitant, Setsuko agrees and so begins her short lived romance with a completely different side of herself. Donning a fake blonde wig and the American nickname "Lucy", Setsuko awakens something deep within her otherwise cold, lonely exterior. Whether it’s a crush, a desire for a different kind of life, a spontaneous reflex, or something altogether more raw: just a sense of purpose, it doesn’t matter. It has made its change. However, our newly designated “Lucy” doesn't take long to realize that she has fallen prey to a con - one that can either humiliate her back into submission or force her into staying awake within this new life. Created by a woman, directed by a woman, and portraying a woman, “Oh Lucy!” is critical to continuing the push for female-driven stories onscreen. While that's half the thrill of the short, the rest is all in the near flawless synthesis of story and character. I could barely blink throughout this film, every moment pulling me deeper into this inane yet offbeat, believable world of wigs, going away parties, English lessons, and betrayal. I felt I was both Setsuko and Lucy at many times, her transitions and regressions mirroring what loneliness truly feel likes. You're crazy if you don't want this story to continue onto the feature length platform it deserves ... Good news: Atsuko Hirayanagi is currently developing that script! With all that being said, when you get down to it, Hirayanagi’s film is simply just ... great. Delightful, absurd, touching and totally electric, it’s hard not to want to have genuine camaraderie with “Lucy”. Exploring loneliness and transformation, “Oh Lucy!” just gets it right with its own brand of whimsy. We see our Setsuko grow and shrink, left at an intersection of possibilities - it’s all just natural evolution. The short is now available to rent for only $0.99, via Vimeo on Demand. Believe us, it's money well spent. Watch now! And while you're at it, you can watch more amazing (and free!) shorts available on Indie Street!
In a rather unique and interesting exercise in defiance, UK-based filmmaker Charlie Lyne, the man behind the popular high school focused documentary "Beyond Clueless", just achieved something pretty strange. Having raised almost $10,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to create a film about paint drying, Lyne then sent the completed film to the UK film censor board. The result: a 10 hour long film of nothing but paint. According to the BBCFC, two examiners were required to sit through the entire video.With the universal concept of censorship being a constant, nit-picky inconvience within the art world, Lyne used this as a means to protest censorship issues within the film industry. What do you think? Could Lyne's film have any influence on censorship rules for independent cinema or will it just be a silly joke that gave two examiners a relatively boring but easy day on the job? Read more about his protest #PxArWmRA1mq4">here.