BONUS SOLO EPISODE ALERT: I just wrapped Sundance London 2022 at Picturehouse Cinemas so this mini solo episode lets you in on the festival's film highlights. You asked for more suggestions from indie filmmakers so I've come with goodies.
Listen up for reviews on:
- Resurrection (starring Rebecca Hall as Margaret, a woman who balances the demands of a busy career and single parenthood but carefully constructed life is upended when an unwelcome shadow from her past, David, played excellently by Tim Roth, returns)
- Watcher (part of the Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival 2022 U.S. Dramatic Competition, it was shot during the pandemic and stars Maika Monroe as an expat being stalked)
- Hatching (an inventive Finnish horror, the film follows Tinja, a 12-year-old gymnast, who brings a strange mop egg home and nurtures it until it hatches)
- The Princess (British director Ed Perkins’ highly anticipated doc lets archive footage do the talking in this compelling and uncompromising documentary of Princess Diana’s story)
- We Met In Virtual Reality (Directed by Joe Hunting, this doc takes place entirely within the online platform VRChat. It explores the social relations developed by users of VRChat during the pandemic and how their lives were changed by their time on the platform)
- Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. (An American dark comedy satire written, directed and produced by Adamma Ebo in her directorial debut, and featuring a stellar cast that includes Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown and Nicole Beharie)
- Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (Directed by Halina Reijn and produced by A24, a party game goes awry in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends & the TikTok generation)
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Hi everyone, Sophie here. Hope you're doing well and have been watching as many films as I have in the last few days. I am recording this a couple of days after the wrap of the London Edition of San Antonio Festival, which took place at Picturehouse Cinemas. I am feeling a bit exhausted but it's not you too lack of energy just that I was eight films, and eight and seven swords in four days.
I feel like I have an overwhelming amount of emotional information in my head that I'm just trying to process this week. Anyway, for this reason, I thought it would actually be better to talk through what I saw the festival. So I can give you a better overview of what its film is about.
And most importantly give you a heads up about some films that are worth watching later this year As you may now understand the discovery festival. So this is where thousands of filmmakers go every year to exhibit their work with the hope that it's going to get picked up by distributor.
In fact, a programmer from Sundance told us that every year they receive over 10,000 shorts and they only have nine programmers to go through them all. So to say that competition is high, would be an understatement. Anyway, here are the films that I saw at Southern Film Festival? They are interesting.
Makes a hopefully, there is at least one film for you in there. Feel free to grab a pen and paper or jot this down on your phone, but know that this will also be included in the episodes. Show notes with all the info that you need Great. So starting off with a horror title, resurrection, this one I was really excited about the movies.
About a woman named Margaret played by my favourite Rebecca Hall, who is living in overly, I would say discipline but also comfortable life as a single working mum but things take a sudden turn when a man from her past makes an unexpected return, as he tries to deal with a memories of your youth and what happened.
Those closest to her, including her daughter and a guy who's kind of your friend but also your fuck buddy. Try to help her get your life back under control while she's paralleling at the same time, what I would say, I mean I would say that this psycho drama directed by Andrew Zemans, joins the ranks of other recent horror titles, such as knocking sensor and the knighthouse from 2020, which also started whole, There was a lot to like, in resurrection.
I love high portrayed and underlying gravy disturbing reality with added being on your face, in your face, on your face. I'm not sure what's the right way to say this. You can almost tell it leaves. It's things on halls character, both Rebecca Hall and Timroth. Who plays the man from your past are electro, finally good.
As a couple inextricably bound together in prolonged mutual suffering, we see them torment each other. Well, mostly world's character does in ways are both physical and psychological, but I like that. It doesn't limit itself as just his own real film. It is imperfect by any means and aspect that I'm kind of still hung up on.
Is it stay consedism? But the ending is quite tragic, but I would say it's also quite triumphant, It's hard. It's hard to describe without giving any spoilers away, but I do think it's worth seeing resurrection. Also includes what is most likely going to be my favourite monologue in the films in this year with Rebecca Hall, delivering a performance of a lifetime in a matter of minutes.
So not to be missed. Now, I wanted to cover the horror films, first at sentence as the festival is putting more and more emphasis on this genre. So, the next horror film that I saw is called water which was recently acquired by IFC films. The one thing that was obvious from the get-go is that director?
Chloe Akuna channels and likes of Alfred Hitchcock for her throwback style feature debut. What? You got my attention because it prays on the heightened vulnerability of an isolated woman struggling to adapt, a new country, creating a dark atmospheric thriller that tackles voyeuristic paranoia and the stories about our American protagonist Julia played by my common row.
Whom you may have seen in it follows who approached your life to move with your half Romanian, husband to Bucharest for his high pressure, marketing job, He's demanding world hours, leave Julia almost entirely on her own to adjust to new country and culture, and it's made even harder by the language barrier.
If you've ever been alone in a country, you know how long the days may feel, and the nights may feel even longer In at some point. We see Julius staring out the window where she notices a creepy face during back fun times. So that mile feeling of being watched gets transformed into full blown paranoia, which is only amplified when the news reports that a killer named spider has been stocking in the copyating, women in the area, the film throughout its course, I would say explain with one key question.
Is someone actually following Julia or is it a byproduct of loneliness and cultural sock on her side? One of the downsides of the film? I would say is that there are familiar hallmarks and tropes of this particular subgenre, so we have the husband supporting his wife, safety concern for like two seconds before this missing.
Her as paranoid, then you have the increasingly hostile neighbours who think the American is trouble. Except for one laid-back, female. Neighbour who seems too cool to care for her life. That said as water dives into darker more sinusoid territory we find that Julius Bato is into determine why his talker is following her but to convince those around her to believe what's going on, it is super timely material for the director and the actress to explore, as it provides a new approach, towards the old to common themes of dismissing.
Women's call for help The unexpected standard for me was actually the film score and sound design. The score ability was by Nathan Halpern. And I just, it was so distracting for me. But like, in a very positive way. I just found that it contributed so months to the atmosphere and the tone.
Overall, I would say, I really enjoyed the film's vision. I just wish it was a bit more even, especially in the first half. Cool. So moving on to hunting a body horror but on the last extreme side film from Finland. Okay, let me start with some questions for you here and these were the questions that came to me after coming out of the film.
Think of the typical mummy bloggers for a second. What do you think their children? Feel about having every aspect of their lives. Capturing camera often in a way that feels designed and artificial what happens when they become aware, that the life that's portrayed for, you know, that audience out there for like a better word isn't an accurate reflection of what it's really.
Like, I would say. And what I found after watching this mail, not listening, my head is that cognitive dissonance is in subtle here. If anything that's feeling must be terrifying. So hating, focus on a young girl that's coming to such a realisation and it leads to consequences that I would say.
Nightmares are made of our protagonist adolescentina is a perfect child. This is well behaved. This is super talented and she's almost like a semi probe gymnast. This is also painfully thin something that was quite uncomfortable for me to watch seeing excessively jogging or doing sit-ups alone. When most girls were aids are hanging out with their friends and their roots of ten years.
Numerous disorders leads straight to her mother who's a professional vlogger that keeps creating videos depicting her families. Perfect, everyday life. That it stays to the tea to Eti, not the tea, not that he to Eddie. But after putting an injured bird out of its misery, we sit hanging out taking home the single egg, let it lays so you can take care of it.
The egg notice something as tears grows to, and a naturally large size before hatching grotesque bird. Humanoid creature from it. Yeah, I know this is surrealism, it's finest. So, if serialism is not your thing, then that film isn't for you, Tina quickly starts to feel the strange, maternal tenderness towards the creature, eventually naming it Ali and allowing it to hiding her bedroom.
The more love supports into Ali, the more Ali becomes human and in return, Ali with whom, Tina has some sort of strength, just psychic connection is the agent of Tina's. Rage exuding violence on anyone teeing up receives a threatening. Sounds great, doesn't it? I thought so too, but I feel like the premise was more interesting than the execution which fell a bit flat for me.
Burke homes, direction isn't all that inspired, but at the same time, I can see that. This is also very much locked into the screenplay. The issue that I have with this film is that our empathy is reserved only for Tina. And no one else her father and brother are merely useless in the story and her mother is so loved some that is beyond belief.
There is nothing remotely ambiguous or realistic about the supporting characters or their motivations. So I'm not sure if the film was entirely for me, but I don't regret watching it. I was terribly moved by the young actress who played and I believed, it's a kind of enforced devastating performance, that was track, a chord with a lot of people.
Okay. So to change the motivate, let's move on to the couple of documentaries that I saw the festival. The first one is a new HPI documentary called the princess and yes it's a documentary about Princess Diana. The duck is produced by lightbox their films include manwire, and searching for sugar man to documentaries.
That I absolutely love. And I have to be honest at first, I was quite apprehensive to the idea of another die documentary. Like what else needs to be? Told about that. Sorry, but I did trust a team behind it, director and Perkins, took a different approach than other documentaries.
Exploring video archives exclusively and assembling clips are found footage. So while he keeps a familiar story arc, comprehensively condensed for those who have not witnessed the events and holding in real time like myself, he and the films editors tried to thread out two leading messages, the first one, the more bed curiosity targeted at celebrity see the death and her trial, and an outliers will to boost through the obstacles with asthma's grace as possible.
See the comeback of Britney Spears and the free Britney movement more than anything Perkins is gays tries to capture Diana Smith through her media legacy and how it was exploited and constructed by intrusive lenses. So if you're into a kind of metatextual social commentary, that's kind of my vibe this documentary is for you, ultimately, I would say the princess is much less of a Diana biography and much more of a self-reflection on current times our unhealthy obsession with celebrity our infatuation.
We seeing people and especially women collapse in front of us while making a spectacle out of the tragedies and of course how this parasail relationships would create with these figures take shape and form in magazines. And I mean these days tick tock and YouTube, I know that duck will be adding cinemas from Thursday 30th of June including a special one night only event across the UK.
And Ireland. Now, the other documentary I watched was the lovely we met in virtual reality. Um, do you guys know we are tat apparently. There's an online. Virtual reality platform, where you can show up as an avatar and you can meet other people and do anything this auto express director, hunting follows several couples who met in VR during the pandemic in this app.
So, you have dust bunny and toaster and dragging a heart. And is your boy like their names are as fancy and colourful as their forms. So that I think is camera work to VR chat and in essence, creating a new filmmaking language hunting reveals a caring and self-sustained alternative reality.
One that aims to welcome connect and support everyone within its community. What's groundbreaking about this documentary is that it sets new standards for what movies can look like. Indeed, I found that we met in virtual reality, obviously was shot entirely in the VR tab app and the contrast between their deficiality of the colourful science fiction landscapes.
And the loneliness actually felt by the voices behind the surreal avatars is moving striking and liberating all at once. I, I don't know. I suddenly found myself in a parallel world where you can choose your own gender and identity. And while it's shot in a virtual reality universe, it is edited and narrated as a film.
We have one of the primary characters, we that is called Jenny. This is an American sign language teacher, who runs VRTA helping hands community to aid, hearing deaf and hard of hearing. People learn ASL in an inclusive environment, and it was so fascinating. Danny who appears in this world with equally pink hair and t-shirt has a nurturing wholeness in her?
That makes your natural teacher. See herself deals with an auditory processing disorder, as well as mental health issues, but secularly finds purpose in running her VR ASL, sessions throughout the week. This film serves us proof of both VR's potential to bring people closer and the possibilities it extends to future filmmakers.
We met in virtual realities. A true fascinating piece of work. I am not sure. Documentary has been picked up by any distributors yet. I wasn't able to find anything online, but I can see that that is still doing the rounds in Film Festival. So I'm hopeful it will find a home soon.
All right. Two more film suggestions for you. Here's a great comedy satire Hung for Jesus, save your soul. If this isn't the best title for a film, I don't know what is. So the film is based on a true story, but fortunately, it doesn't feel like another boring biopic The movie picks up from the aftermath of a huge megastared.
Scandal 20 tiles played by the super talented Regina. Hall is the first lady of a prominent and respected. Southern Baptist mega church and attempts to help her pastor husband. Lee Kurti. Child's played by Sterling K Brown rebuild, their now borderline non-existent congregation. And to do that, they try to reconcile their faith with their own demons in order to make the biggest comeback that commodified religion has ever seen in a Q&A after the film.
I heard that the writers last director Adama Ebo, who collaborated with your sister and producer. Adain Ebel grew up attending this kinds of churches in Atlanta Georgia. So soon, not only has an eye for the absurdity of the culture, but a sense for how the community relies on these churches, to help define their own identity.
The film is half shot in about documentary style so think the office or modern family as a two lead characters. Invite an actual documentary filmmaker to tell their story to try and resurrect their brand and loyalty within the church. You can I think you can guess how that goes.
It's an interesting choice, that lands itself. Well, to capturing the duality between public and personal lives and then you have browns, character and performance. There are a great examples of how that works. Really, really well often break in front of the camera and showing generum emotion. I know we're used to kind of seeing brown and dramatic roles, but for those of you who remember his role in Brooklyn, I-9, oh my god.
That man has incredible committee tops and this show in this film and then of course you have Regina Hall, right? Who's most likely the most impressive highlight of the film. Her performance was easily my favourite one out of the entire festival. She's pulling the strings of Trinity wonderfully and her performance is a doubling act.
Thanks to the films. Dual forms of presentation and Trinity, and Liberties we see themselves distract in slow motion in front of us. It's beautiful. I would say that the majority of the emotional beats that are carried by the performances are the most impactful ones rather than the ones that come from the screenplay itself.
And yeah, the decision to incorporate documentary crew within the film. While I appreciate it. It could have been more fleshed out that said the ambition and energy in this debut are undeniable. The film has already been picked up by focus features. So, expect a proper wider release in the following months.
Sweet. Now, the last film I wanted to talk to you about is 8/24 body's body's bodies. This was the surprise film of the festival in London, and I'm so glad that it was an actually surprising pic because it didn't even premiere in Sundance back in January. So it did feel like an exclusive trade for London audiences.
I mean, 824 needs little introduction, especially in the whole realm. You have hereditary medium are the lighthouse the which it comes at night and so on. And while the film in theory uses the wrapper of horror to tell the story that it needs to tell, it's fully infused in comedy and what I call modern satire, the director, hallina rain even said at the film's Q&A that the intention of the film is to have a strong POV on contemporary issues of our times.
Such as her obsession with our phones, our over tendency to perform our full passion, towards political correctness, and what it all means, in the context of the tick-tock generation, the narrative is predominantly told through the perspective of B played by Maria Bakalova and her girlfriend Sophie played by a modlustenberg at the beginning of the film.
We see the two heads to surface friends mansion. David played by Pete Davidson where a group of common friends of theirs have started parting prior to a hurricane hitting the area. I found myself empathizing with be early on being of a lower class and not of American blood. Having trouble integrating herself with her girlfriend's friends, when meeting them for the very first time, and I mean, who can blame her.
I mean, the vibe between everyone is tends to various factors that I'm not gonna go into. And there are lots of things that go down between them and all of that happens, just before the very first murder takes place as their original game of body's body goes wrong. If mean girls who wear 20 something densers, they could be this friend group, All the girls are self-indulged and upper-class, rich kid, snobs from popping pills and doing coke to being obnoxiously self-absorbed.
While most of them are insufferable people in their own, right? The actors to their credit do an incredible job making them so so funny to watch The director, also does a great job immersing you into this murder mystery, in a single set location, the use of darkness along with some neon light from the glow, sticks.
One of the girls wears only adds to the overall visual aesthetic of the film. And yeah, I also love how some long takes with handheld cameras were executed in a way that put you on the same wavelength of anxiety as the girls. Overall, there's not much, I didn't like, and even if there was a hat, that's a good time.
That my experience, overpowered, anything negative, it's a great funny, and most importantly, self-aware, murder mystery. That doesn't take itself to seriously. This is 824. So expected near you in the following months. Oh yeah, made it to the end. These are the recommendations that I got for you from Santa's London.
A good mix of horror documentaries and comedy. I hope this has been helpful and has just made your 2022. Was this a bit more interesting? Thank you for listening.