Imagine: the perfect moment. Right there in front of you. To capture on film and present to the world… but there’s a catch. Embracing this moment, while worthy of recording and preserving in some capacity, is 100% unethical, pretty much illegal, immorally compromising and just downright wrong. And yet, it’s beautiful, raw in its vulnerability and it’s right there. You’ve got the camera. What do you do? Chance the filmic high or put that visual story-lust aside and possibly save a life? This is the crux of Ed Christmas’ debut feature “The Man with Four Legs”. A genre-twisting experiment in drama, comedy and documentary, this British indie is 100% fictional but just as much believable in its portrayal of human flaws. Imperfections can be ugly but they can also be magnetic. In “The Man with Four Legs” we are faced with two very different types of flawed yet impressive people. Christmas introduces us to this semi-exaggerated reality through the lens of a group of young, irrational filmmakers hell-bent on documenting an out-of-this-world subject that fell into their laps. What's that? Oh, just the mysterious James Davis (played by prism of an actor, Simon Dobson), a fanatic fantasist and amnesiac that believes his past was totally different from what it actually was. Or was it? The more he pieces together bits of his memories, the eager doc team, led by ruthless, keen-eye’d Angus (Richard Southgate) (with Tom [Daniel Ormorod] and Ethan [Terry Sweeney] somewhat hesitantly by his side), starts to discover this is one very real film project full of twists and turns they never expected it to make. Angus’ perfect moment, the total breakdown and disillusionment of a mind, is handed to him on a shaky silver platter. So, what’s an aspiring filmmaker to do? You’ll just have to enter into this uncomfortable world of missing morals and memories to find out. Trust us, the twist at the end will leave you reeling. There’s truly something about the dark, twisted beauty of “The Man with Four Legs” that makes this film a real treat for indie film lovers looking for a story totally different and out of left field. The multi-layered bits of faux-documentary, drama, and dark comedy make you question everything, just like the characters in the film. The mirror effect is unnerving, but isn’t that the magic of a good film? You can catch the bloody brilliant British indie gem now across several VOD platforms, including within Indie Street’s own library! Be warned: this a surreal tale that attempts to explore that fine line between reality and fantasy in the most surprising, disturbing of ways. Make it through, you’ll be awarded with a mind-blowing indie experience.
Ready to give it a go, then? Watch "The Man With Four Legs" now on Indie Street!
A scorching sun. A Western route. A man in a car, destination unknown. A woman, seemingly aimless, offering purpose and direction and yet nothing at all. She is our modern day Madonna - and I don’t mean the musician. I’m speaking biblically. Celia Rowlson-Hall’s debut feature “MA” is a dreamlike journey, probably unlike anything else offered on film in recent years. Be warned, though watching is a challenge, patience will reward you with imagery, dancing, and genius that are far from the expected. With “MA”, you’ll find just what you need below the surreal simmering surface of creation. Rowlson-Hall’s unconventional offering attempts to follow the story of a modern day Virgin Mary, making her pilgrimage across the Western landscape - the desert. End goal? Both Las Vegas and birth. The Creation of our Christ Figure. Sound strange? Well, only silent choreography and movement lead the journey. Looking for words? Literally, try the Bible. But if you’re looking for something different, almost transcendental, that doesn’t utilize the moving image medium the way we’ve all narratively become accustomed to, then “MA” might be right up your alley. Our “Mary”, donning an XL T-shirt and cowboy boots, traverses across the baron land, the heat almost permeating off the screen. She encounters a troupe of bizarre characters along the way - some oppressive, some impressive. Her companion for much of the journey is Daniel, your gentle, average man (played by Andrew Pastides) - a sort of “Joseph” if you will. After the two are separated later in the film, she becomes both characters, masculine, preserving the tendency of this film to steer a bit off course from how we usually perceive Mary’s story. Every movement, costume, setting, and character becomes important to note, jumbled up and left to beautifully come together in one of the most bizarre cinematic puzzles I’ve ever witnessed. Celia Rowlson-Hall created a dance-based ode to spiritual concepts that translates if you know how to tune to this very particular frequency of storytelling. Try to join Rowlson-Hall’s pilgrimage blindly and silently - let feeling guide your way and emotion help you through this film. Give into the surreal nature with an active mind and patient eyes. Trust us, it’s not an easy thing to digest. But if you’re looking for a festival fare challenge, beautifully shot and uniquely staged, get acquainted with “MA”, well, ASAP! A true visionary work of art and inspiring voice, further cementing Celia Rowlson-Hall on our one-to-watch list.
Sparkling with nostalgic high school vibes, “First Girl I Loved” is like the many teen dramas that came before it, taking its first steps into the silly, irrational unknown. All fun and games until someone falls in love and gets hurt, no? But are the consequences greater when the burgeoning relationship is between two young and confused high school girls that have absolutely no idea what they are doing? This is what Kerem Sanga’s newest Sundance winning feature strives to capture and answer: what happens as the first inklings of love are born, what happens when discovering one’s true identity, and finally, what happens when facing the fact that these two moments sometimes don’t mesh at all. Anne, played by a captivating Dylan Gelula, lives a rebellious life, flanked by her best friend Cliff (Mateo Arias). A sort of disheveled beauty, with a blue streak of hair and a natural sense of androgynous fashion, Anne is magnetic, drawing our curiosity towards the screen. As Cliff and Anne set out opening bottles of wine with samurai swords and attacking each other like predator and prey in a convenience store, “First Girl I Loved” initially starts out as slightly less intriguing than I hoped, despite the initial magnetism born from synopsis and trailer. However, the frivolous nature of the film changes dramatically when secrets are spilled - secrets that change the course of this friendship forever. You see, Anne isn’t harbouring unrequited feelings for her best friend, as these things tend to go. She’s fallen for softball player and role model senior, Sasha, a radiant Brianne Hildebrand in the role. And yes, softball players are girls, not boys. As Anne and Sasha’s friendship-relationship blossoms, the film takes the twists and turns of teenage love so smoothly and with total ease. It’s messy, confusing, and heartbreaking - but sometimes, just sometimes, it makes more sense than anything else in the world. Well, until it doesn’t anymore and the inevitable crash and burn of young love incinerates the hearts and reputations of everyone involved. The two female leads do an amazing job portraying characters that are constantly in a state of figuring themselves out and yet, never really getting there. And well, that’s growing up to a T. The giggles, the inside jokes, the awkward tension between two people that are meant to be more than just friends - it’s all here in Sanga’s new wave teenage romance and it’s all very real and very raw in its portrayal of growing up. If you can forgive the plot technicalities glossed over within the story, not think too much about what’s left unsaid between certain characters, and see this as a sugary sleek, well handled narrative about coming out, you may just find something to love about “First Girl I Loved”. It’s a slick, hip take on same sex discovery and the consequences it sadly brings. It’s all about finding yourself and accepting that at the most terrifying point in your life: being a teenager. We’ve all been there or will be there. And there’s no escaping self-discovery when it rears its ugly, yet necessary little head.
We start in familiar filmic territory: A group of old friends meet at a cabin to celebrate some special event. In this case, New Year’s Eve. On paper, each friend represents a different type of assumed stereotype: The free spirit musician. The beautiful actress. The loyal wife. The passionate husband. The career man. The rational ex-lover. Think you see where this is going? You’ll be surprised. “Auld Lang Syne” is a film that twists and turns with a refreshing outcome, making sure that this isn’t just one of your usual 'cabin in the woods' scenarios. It takes all of those familiar film quirks and makes something sassy, fresh and new. Here, the cabin horrors between friends become far more comedic and human. You are immediately drawn into this universe, the life of these characters and their arts, and until the last frame, you don’t want to walk away from the progression and regression of friendships and passions on screen. We all have friends. We all know the consequences well. “Auld Lang Syne” does not disappoint in its over-the-top yet surprisingly down to Earth take on our own realities. Led by Broadway aficionado Johanna McKeon (her directorial debut), with a story by Kimberly Dilts, the ensemble cast is placed into a sort of figurative wagon and steered in the direction of witty genius. The hopes and resolutions of a New Year devolve into hijinks and disasters between 3 couples that play out like an intricate, never ending puzzle. Secrets build on secrets until the structure grows unsteady, revealing all. Real life couple and producers/writers/actors Kimberly Dilts ("Vanessa") and J.T. Arbogast ("Steven") lead the film as party hosts with Lucy Walters ("Sadie") and Caleb Bark ("Jude") playing free-spirited lovers, and Blake DeLong ("Bryce") and Elisabeth Hower ("Jodie") playing a crumbling, high-strung couple with a bombshell of a secret that will change everything. They all fill in the ranks as hilariously nuanced characters, ready to play off each other throughout the film. Much of the ensemble knew each other going into the film, so there’s a natural bond and sense of play between the lot. By the end of the film, the revelations and disasters between "pals" will have you asking, should old acquaintance truly be forgot?! Seems the film’s title, an old Scottish tune and a traditional part of New Year's Eve traditions, is a beacon of what’s to come. Only time (and some delicious pie) will tell the future of these friends, but in the present day, let watching this film not be forgot. Made by a team of women and on a micro-budget, “Auld Lang Syne” represents everything we need in the independent film industry right now. Its creation serves its outcome well. On top of representation of the underrepresented, discovering this film is like hitting a true indie story jackpot because, well, it's everything: sad, hilarious, true, weird, ridiculous, honest and every little emotion and adjective in between. Stories on the surface and the implied ones below are amazing to witness. Like riding an emotional roller coaster, going ruthlessly up and down, it’s all a bullet shower of fun and games until you start to reflect on your own life. This isn’t just a film about friends and recollections of old times. This is a microcosm of the art world. While a bit jazzed up for entertainment purposes, it’s still very raw. Anyone struggling with work in a creative field or hopelessly trying to find their place in life as an artist will enjoy this film. So, should old acquaintance be forgot? Well, the countdown is over, so pop that champagne and watch the film to find out!
Watch "Auld Lang Syne" now on Indie Street VOD! You can also purchase the film on these additional platforms: iTunes: http://apple.co/2fkuuM7 Vimeo: http://bit.ly/Syne_Vimeo Vudu: http://bit.ly/Syne_VUDU
Ever feel like everyday is the same? We all sit down, plug in and press play. Phones, computers, TVs, tablets. You name it, someone's connected to one. It's a routine we've come to adapt our lives to - day in and day out. A picture here...a video there...a FB post here...a tweet about something inane there. We've become a society so obsessed with documenting our lives within past and present moments that it actually makes the future seem like some intangible concept that never comes into fruition. Every second lived becomes the past at some point. We want to share and we want to document so we can go back and relive. Memories are best preserved and accessed in a physical or digital form, no? Well, what would happen if we totally escaped from the consequences of both our current and future obligations by having the ability to literally crawl back into the best instances of our memories? All of those moments we documented, in a cache or library of some kind, literally available and at the ready to welcome us back with open arms? Filmmaker James Siewert's animated short "The Past Inside the Present" brings us into an existence where all of this (and more!) is possible. His painstakingly handcrafted world shows us what could come from constantly being plugged in, portraying the soulless black and white by-product of shunning the idea of free, undocumented living. This insanely animated, slightly cyberpunk wonder is what Siewert calls an allegorical tale, displaying the actions of a couple trying to save their dying relationship by renewing it. And how so? By literally connecting themselves into a recorded moment from their time together. Yes, in this world, analog media literally works as a trippy, fucked up time traveling device. Like robots, they wire themselves in and for just a little while, disappear into the abyss. True renewal. While the act of unfulfilled but comfortably repetitive living seems like it would be a safe zone, that feeling is tangled here in an intricate jumble of insanity, madness and eventual emptiness. Past meets present meets future in one overlapping instance that seems to explode into infinity until it's all over and numb reality sets back in. It's dark, it's twisted and it's all very fascinating to disappear into for the 13-min journey. Ask yourself, is this the future world we really want to live in? In order to answer that, experiencing this film and its underlying lesson is a must. In the end, maybe...just maybe...we might realize we don't want this life outside of the confines of the film. The irony? We have to plug-in to watch and learn this fact. That's life in all its past, present and future glory. But oh, what a beautifully hand drawn payoff! Siewert must be one of the most diligent and innovative up-and-coming animator/directors out there and is definitely one to watch out for in the near future. From animations to music videos, he's got his talented rotoscoping, cinematic hands in a little bit of everything - a true connoisseur of independent creation. "The Past Inside the Present" was a project years in the making, meticulously filmed and drawn frame by frame by a small group. Each individual drawing combines with the others in order to create a dark treat that you should definitely feast your eyes upon and consume. The great news is that Indie Street gets to help release this must-see, mind-blowing film out into the wild, where it belongs, to claim its plugged-in victims. Watching this short and taking in its extras all feels like an adventure - one into the mind of a talented filmmaker that truly seems to understand the way humans are connecting and disconnecting with each other as well as where we came from and where we are now. Truly a case of the past inside the present. Check out the trailer below and then head on over to BitTorrent Now to download and watch the full film! While you're there, check out Indie Street's exclusive behind the scenes bundle, including the trailer, a 70 page handcrafted book chronicling the film's conception and production, animated GIFs and stills from the film, 2 time-lapse progress videos and finally, an epic music video honoring the completion of the film (as creative as the final product itself). All it takes is an email to get the full "The Past Inside the Present" experience! Don't miss out on this beautifully dark and prophetic opportunity. Just remember to disconnect, go out and live your life afterwards! WATCH THE FULL FILM FOR FREE NOW ON VIMEO!!!
“You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives . . . Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.” – Luis Buñuel If ever there were words to live by, they might be Buñuel's warning of a life without a past. So, why am I starting a review on a modern day science fiction film with this quote - one from a well-known surrealist Spanish filmmaker?! Consider what Buñuel's 1929 non-narrative experimental short "Un Chien Andalou" did for cinema studies. It used film as a playground for illogical dream-text, playing with memory, fantasy, and everything in-between. Though totally different material, “Sankofa” also has a sense of self-awareness to film as a medium and what it means to human memory. A low budget film with a high budget look and concept, Berlin-based filmmaker Kaleb Wentzel-Fisher’s feature spins us a geniusly crafted narrative on what happens to the recorded history of humanity after the end of the world. It's a film that displays both the importance of documentation to connectedness as well as the danger it poses to simple human relationships. Embrace the irony of watching a film that shows how crucial filmmaking is to our past, present and future all the while critiquing it, too. This is the antidote to overdosing on today’s regurgitated blockbuster plots, slowly becoming a narrative with distant yet familiar moments that will touch you far after the credits roll. When life comes to an end, what will be your story? Will it be recorded and left behind or will you live freely and fully with no distractions and no visual legacy? With both its pros and cons, this is a film that truly explores what it means to be human. We start on a ship, after the end of Earth as we know it. Uninhabited by man, life from our planet has almost ceased to exist. The “chosen ones” - by successful application through the Earth Abroad Program - left for Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Along with them came a carefully curated collection of humanity’s remnants, creating an archive to teach future generations about Earth. However, as these things go, an accident occurred, leaving the spaceships damaged, most of the archive destroyed, and like a cancer, a growing memory loss amongst the survivors. No history, no memory and stranded away from Earth, a single woman named Sally (Allie Hankins) is chosen to set out and reclaim the human story. A librarian of sorts, complete with an implanted camera in her eye, Sally is sent back to Earth on a solo mission, along with one single crate from the lost archive that she must catalog. Most of the contents of this box, including a documentary film about alien looking Yugoslavian war monuments (Spomeniks), belonged to Jim (Kaleb Wentzel-Fisher), a filmmaker whose fate Sally works to figure out. What did these relics mean to him and were they enough to earn him a spot on the ship to Titan? The more Sally discovers about this man, the more she begins to doubt her mission. After walking out of the “Sankofa” screening at ISFF 2016, the crowd wasn’t just commenting on the film as a whole. They were stunned by the usage of these Yugoslavian memorials as a device to tell the inner story of the film. Like Sally, we watch the documentary footage as if it were a part of her story. If you don't know about the existence of these monuments, they really need to be seen to be believed. Because of them, "Sankofa" truly acts as a two for one special - a narrative juggling a documentary core. Wentzel-Fisher is currently working on “Concrete Empire”, a documentary about Albania’s 750,000 bunkers, built for a paranoid war that never happened. Like his character Jim, he's also a filmmaker interested in exploring the intricacies of untold human stories. Whether via offbeat cultural documentaries or science fiction films, Wentzel-Fisher is doing a damn good job of it all. If you value personal legacy, the importance of archiving history, irony, 20th-century architecture or even just supporting underrated indie films, there's something here for you. As Founder and President of Indie Street Jay Webb puts it, “Sankofa is a film that represents the essence of what makes Independent film creation so inspiring. Wentzel-Fisher paints a meaningful landscape of passion, love, and connectivity, that has the audience entrenched in the timelessness and fleeting nature of their own existence. A low-budget masterpiece that we hope is also archived for future space travelers to discover and cherish!” If someone decides, like our filmmaker-in-a-crate, to live behind or in front of a camera rather than away from it altogether, what do they lose from life? Is there something to gain from documentation vs. living in the moment? “Sankofa” strives to answers these questions in an almost melodic way. The pacing is like a crescendoing orchestral piece, building and fading to moments that reveal themselves like memories do over time. Ask yourself: Do you truly understand what was and what will become of the life around you? Like Buñuel said, without our memory we are nothing. It's our feeling, action, reason, connectedness - everything. It's time to start living and connecting while we still can. Why not start that journey off on a positive note of otherworldy proportions by watching "Sankofa" now on Indie Street!
Are you 30? Almost 30? Beyond 30? Not even close to 30 but still dreading it? Chances are, if you’re at least within the vicinity of the big 3-0, you are familiar with the negative stigma that surrounds its impending arrival. There’s just something about officially living 3 decades on Earth that really makes you put your life into perspective. But why is there so much dread that encompasses leaving behind your 20s? Why does 30 still carry the burdensome mark of true adulthood and expected social maturity? In “Adult Life Skills”, British filmmaker Rachel Tunnard’s feature directorial debut, we are presented with a unique perspective regarding this stunted adulthood concept. It’s a familiar kind of millennial story but told in a rustic, quirky, messy yet lovable way. This is a story for any twenty-something year old that is terrified of the future, still holding onto their past, and constantly living in a present that seems devoid of any real purpose. Welcome to being an adult, ladies and gentlemen. Anna (played by a relatable Jodie Whittaker) has reached an impasse. She’s almost 30 and has just moved back home to her rural, middle-of-nowhere hometown. Living in her mother’s shed in the backyard while working a small, menial job at a seaside boating facility, Anna continues to hole up within her own imagination, making short films with her thumbs and irritating her mother by seemingly not wanting to move on with her life. Tragedy, specifically the passing of her twin brother years before, has forcibly held Anna back in the past, stunning her into a sort of paralyzed emotional aging cycle. The loss of something cherished she once shared with her brother sends things into a further downward spiral. It’s not until she starts befriending Clint, a troubled young boy in the area, that the two unlikely pals form a bond that reaches across the age spectrum, opening Anna’s eyes to a future that might not be so bad. Is it possible to merge past, present and future in a way that is just…okay? Not terrifying and not perfect, but totally doable? “Adult Life Skills” is actually the expanded, feature length version of Tunnard’s popular BAFTA-nominated short film, “Emotional Fuse Box”. And now winner of the Nora Ephron Prize at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, there may be a bright future ahead for this up-and-coming British filmmaker. Her feature may tell a familiar story, but the whimsical touches she sprinkles on happen to spark into a delightfully fiery mix, with bits and pieces of dreaminess, darkness, wit and drama. It’s messy, but isn’t that life? Anna’s absurd little “thumb movies” aside, this is a film about growing up despite everything life takes from you as well as never gives you. We are all constantly trying to find ourselves and it’s never as easy or prepackaged as we want it to be. And as Tunnard shows us: that’s half the fun of it all.
If you're lucky enough to be based in the UK, you can now catch this late bloomer coming of age indie on several VOD platforms. For all of us in the US, the trailer (and a rewatch of "Emotional Fusebox") will have to suffice for now!
It's been such a pleasure having the opportunity to revisit and feature some of Ornana’s most innovative stories on film over the past couple of weeks. From "(notes) on biology" to "A Different Kind of Movement", this mix of both touchingly real live-action and imaginatively animated adventures have proven what we all already know to be true: there are simply no boundaries to the groups' abilities to make a damn good film. Another case in point: Ornana's 2013 fully live-action feature, "Euphonia". The premise? Simple. The storytelling path it takes to get there? Anything but. At only 53-minutes, this low budget mini-feature follows the story of a teenager (Will Madden) with a curious, unhealthy obsession with recording sounds...to the point where the entire world around him becomes totally new, altered and strange. It's not just a film you should look forward to watching. This is a film you should look forward to hearing. An absolute must watch in the team’s catalog of success, "Euphonia" is like a coming of age story, only through the lens of the relationship between a boy and his recorder. Even though this SXSW gem has already being on the market for free (via Vimeo) for a few years now, "Euphonia" still has close to 100% relevancy in terms of its place within a constantly changing analog and digital landscape. Things move quickly these days, but the relationship between humans, technology and the world around them still fosters a sense of young naivety to it at times. This is why Madden’s teenage role is so effective. One of the film’s most obvious traits is that it does a great (and underhandedly terrifying) job of showing the results of a man-made synthesis of technology and the physical world around us. Nature, sound, auditory perception, the whole shebang, is constantly being both discovered and experimented with throughout the story. And this is all down to the out-of-this-world sound mix and narrative subtlety on display. The way the film smoothly integrates the actual digital recordings into the mix is also brilliant and refreshing to the ears. At just under an hour, a short running time makes sure this experimentally aural journey is easily digested. And don’t let the live-action stamp fool you. "Euphonia" carries the same amount of edge as any of Ornana’s surreal animations - possibly even more. It does everything within a real world we can vaguely recognize but not fully understand. Choosing to release it for free, the gang's POV on self-distribution is right on brand with Indie Street and makes this film an even more treasured addition to our roster. We are proud to have the chance to present this release for, not just your viewing pleasure, but your hearing pleasure as well. Pull out some quality headphones and get ready to truly teach your ears the exact power of sound! You can watch "Euphonia" for free, now on Indie Street!
Award-winning filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s upcoming musical fantasy “La La Land” is already being met with critical praise - even before its official premiere tonight at the 2016 Venice Film Festival! The film follows the story of an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) as they navigate L.A., a city that is well known for crushing dreams. The highly anticipated film, due to be released later this year, is already raking in some much deserved acclaim. While we can hardly wait to see the film, we are content to bide our time by catching up on all of the positive reviews popping up online as we speak. You can check out film critic Eric Kohn’s review of the film here, via Indiewire.