Pop the champagne! Grab those noise makers! Get lost in a sea of balloons, confetti and kissing couples. It’s a New Year! 2016 was one heck of a ride - a true rollercoaster that threw us for loop after loop. However, you can’t deny at least one exhilarating high that the big bad ol' 2-0-1-6 presented to us: the magic of cinema. The past year can definitely brag about that one bright spot, as we’ve seen an onslaught of breathtaking shorts and features presented both online and in cinemas and festivals around the world. Before we start all over again in a fresh, new year, the Indie Street and Indie Street Film Festival staff would like to present our favorite films from ISFF 2016 and beyond! From our inaugural year favorites to other indie hits and theatrical releases, we thank you 2016 for allowing us to throw one heck of a new festival and for showcasing some beautiful, smart and thought-provoking films. Let’s hit the corner of Indie Street and Memory Lane before looking ahead to what the new year has to offer!
Romeo is Bleeding, dir. by Jason Zeldes
Documentary Feature (ISFF 2016 Selection)
Short Synopsis: Donte Clark's poetic voice was honed on the violent street corners of a struggling city. Yet rather than succumb to the pressures of Richmond, CA, Clark uses his artistic perspective to help save his city from itself.
Why we love it: It’s important to remember that, throughout history, one person can ignite change. Romeo is Bleeding, which won the Jury Award for Best Documentary at ISFF 2016, is a must-see doc if you’re looking for an inspirational, beautifully shot raw human story that seems more relevant than ever.
The Lobster, dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos
Short Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
Why we love it: A kind of macabre black comedy, here unfolds a story about single loners that must find a partner before their time runs out and they are forced to be turned into an animal of their choice. This dark and twisted film is a love story unlike any we've ever seen. A Cannes Jury Prize Winner, this peculiar festival pleaser and critic favorite should peak interest in both lovers of the unusual and ones simply interested in the intricacies of human connections.
Thunder Road, dir. by Jim Cummings
Narrative Short (ISFF 2016 Selection)
Short Synopsis: Officer Arnaud loved his Mom.
Why we love it: The Boss should be honored...Jim Cummings gives this classic song new depths of humor and humanity. A one take film with a million dynamics, get ready for a short film that will have you go from crying tears of laughter to suddenly crying tears of sorrow. The 2016 Indie Street Film Festival Jury Prize Winner for best Narrative Short, if you’ve not seen this incredible ode to loss, what are you waiting for?!
The Boatman, dir. by Zack Godshall
Documentary Short (ISFF 2016 Selection)
Short Synopsis: As Joseph and Selina Gonzales approach their 71st wedding anniversary, they reflect on endurance, love and fortitude after years of living outside the flood walls in Yscloskey Beach, Louisiana.
Why we love it: Sometimes all it takes is the jarring grit of reality to form a story that will linger long within both your mind and your heart. A portrait of love, perseverance and endurance throughout hardship, The Boatman is an Indie Street Film Festival short doc selection well worth your time. Have the tissues ready - this one is quite the beautifully human tearjerker.
The Past Inside The Present, dir. by James Siewert
Animated Short (ISFF 2016 Selection)
Short Synopsis: An allegorical tale of a couple who attempt to renew their dying relationship by plugging directly into recordings of their memories. Available for download on Bit Torrent Now.
Why we love it: No dialogue and no words to describe this genius hand-crafted animation. Showcasing the mad, twisted rotoscoped world of a couple reliving and renewing moments from their relationship, this jaw-dropping and intricately created film will have you in awe of both its depiction of our relation to time as well as its layers of art and storytelling.
Moonlight, dir. by Barry Jenkins
Short Synopsis: A young man deals with his dysfunctional home life and comes of age in Miami during the "War on Drugs" era.
Why we love it: Well, first of all, who doesn’t love it?! Moonlight has taken the indie community and beyond by storm. A haunting portrait of African-American identity and repression, here masculinity, desire, and sexuality are all explored in a tender, emotional way. This is a film well worth the acclaim it's finding with audiences and critics alike.
Sonita, dir. by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Documentary Feature (ISFF 2016 Special Screening)
Short Synopsis: A young Afghani refugee in Iran channels her frustrations and seizes her destiny through music after her family tries to sell her into a marriage.
Why we love it: Should a filmmaker get involved with their subject even if it means a new chance at life? Winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for Best World Cinema Documentary, Sonita goes beyond the story of a young girl following her dream to be a rapper and becomes a must-see film about politics, culture and fighting against obstacles in order to find opportunity and identity outside of expectations.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople, dir. by Taika Waititi
Short Synopsis: A boy and his “uncle” become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.
Why we love it: A misfit adventure between an unwanted, troublemaker orphan and a misunderstood foster uncle through the wilderness of New Zealand? Count us in! The wit and acting alone within this hilarious offering from writer/director Taika Waititi should put this film on your must-see list. Add in the million other positives on display within this unique production and we think it should definitely jump to the top of your list!
Whale Valley, dir. by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson
Short Synopsis: Two brothers live in a remote fjord with their parents. We look into their world through the eyes of the younger brother and follow them on a journey that marks a turning point in both of their lives.
Why we love it: A haunting portrait of two brothers, their deep bond & the feeling of isolation that comes from living within an overpowering, remote landscape, we don't think there has been a more beautiful, cinematic short film released this year. This Cannes Special Mention Winner is a film that goes beyond words, best enjoyed in feeling and trust. An absolute must-see!