Featured Short: Young-wook Paik’s SEOUL TOUR

Chances are, if you've had a problem, someone else has lived through that very same issue before. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and the embedded drama that seems to exist there from birth. Friendships, relationships, sickness, the list goes on. Sometimes, the entire spectrum of problems conspires against us to create one giant life-questioning headache. “Seoul Tour” is a short film that tells the story of one night between friends that, while yes, becomes a massive headache, also transforms into a rather unforgettable experience. We follow two unsuspecting friends that get a little more than they bargained for as they try to help a drunken friend find his way home after a night of consoling and drinking. The hours that follow morph into an unplanned night tour through the streets of Seoul, Korea - a city that becomes a vibrant character all its own. What if helping your friend means testing the limits of that very friendship? Would you do what it takes to make them better even if it means severing ties in the end? Under the cover of the night, it seems many things, both magical and terrible, are possible! In director Young-wook Paik’s beautifully shot, down to Earth film, he takes the story from over the top drama (born from one too many drinks) to honest, relatable dialogue. Quick, quirky shots are intercut throughout the heavier situations, making the relatability always a touch fun. Appreciating the foreign perspective makes the whole experience of watching this short that much more unique. You see, we’ve all been there before - too many drinks, lost love, annoyance, reemerging memories. “Seoul Tour” then becomes a microcosm of both the everyday and the slightly bizarre nature of life. And isn’t that what reality is all about? Get acquainted with an up-and-coming talent from Korea that has become an Indie Street favorite. While you’re at it, make sure to check out Young-wook Paik’s “One Shot”, a short about a brokenhearted man that gets a do-over thanks to his friend’s mysterious alcoholic elixir. 

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!  

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!  


Featured Short: "Getting Fat in a Healthy Way"

Bulgarian filmmaker Kevork Aslanyan has concocted quite the rare mixed breed of short film with the delightful "Getting Fat in a Healthy Way". Indie Street consensus? He totally hit the mark. A pinch of quirkiness, a dab of smart science fiction, and a splash of the absurd all mix together to create an "out of this world" viewing experience in this futuristic take on a world where gravity no longer works for skinny people. Literally. Both visually and conceptually innovative, this official 2016 Indie Street Film Festival narrative short selection was a total crowd pleaser in Red Bank this summer and we are thrilled that Aslanyan's film is now available online, via NOWNESS. "Getting Fat in a Healthy Way" is that genius type of film where the title perfectly encompasses its story. In a post-communist world, Constantine is a shy, incredibly skinny young man who lives with his overbearing (and obese) father - one who watches over him like a hawk after a tragic American space mission gone wrong. To put it bluntly, the flawed mission basically broke gravity and his mother, along with all skinny people, floated away forever. It's not until Constantine gets the hots for a plump lady neighbor across the way (one he watches from the safety of his window) that he will see his life change forever.  With a running time of 22 minutes, "Getting Fat..." is a long short film but one absolutely worth the time investment if you're on the hunt for a clever foreign film that also happens to be a wonderful example of filmmaking coming out of Eastern Europe. Story aside, the look and art direction of this film is on par with anything that the likes of Wes Anderson and others are doing. It's unique, it pops, it's 100% strange, and it should definitely bring a bit of glee to your life on this Monday morning. You can enjoy the ISFF fav now on Indie Street


Time Travel, Secrets & Love Converge in "One Shot"

A grand, cyclical plot greets viewers going into the Young-wook Paik’s South Korean short ‘One Shot’.  If an audience can engage with that ongoing filmic style, getting closer to the characters as they become lost within the repetition, it will be amazing time investment for them.  ‘One Shot’ is like a time traveling rollercoaster - simply fun to watch.  The film focuses on the relationship between Dongwook and his friend Hyewon, the object of his unrequited love, as they dine together. As Dongwook is startled to discover Hyewon is secretly dating one of his coworkers, the two enter into a repetitive cycle of time travel, do-overs and ignorance.  With the help of a special elixir offered by one of the restaurant's waiters, the characters find themselves reliving the big plot reveal over and over again to somewhat melancholic effect.  With spot on timing, the highlight of this Korean short is its script and pacing.  Though the film pretty much consists of three characters having the same conversation multiple times in a row (with minor differences), director Young-wook Paik somehow manages to make this gimmick extremely engaging.  We are on the edge of our seats, calm, subdued and aware, like we too are a part of this “never-ending story”, waiting for something…anything…to happen.  That “something” may never get there, but the way the film is left open-ended is an extremely effective device from a highly skilled filmmaker. Fun and creatively inspiring in its style, be sure to give this time travel short a watchLike this film? Be sure to check out more awesome shorts now 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.

Tailer: The Rocket

One of our favorite foreign dramas of the year, this gem from Australian director, Kim Mordaunt strikes all the chords.  Astounding performances from two non-actor children from Laos lay the foundation for this beautiful coming of age tale.