2018 Filmmakers to watch
Chris Lawing is an award-winning filmmaker with over two decades of writing, directing and editing experience in film, video and broadcast. His epic short “Greg’s Going to Rehab” is one of those familiar delights that still surprises you with strong performances and a great story.
From Chris: “I love Greg. I love the time of life where nothing seems to work right and you’re confronted with a pivotal moment where you can choose to do something different or just keep doing what you’ve been doing. It’s in that simple moment than can somehow carry the instance of transformation.
Greg is not autobiographical though I drew strong inspiration from my own wayward youth. In this film I wanted to take a journey through the rebellious inclinations of teen years in conflict with the sweeter more gentle side of youth and then the inevitable reality of growing up.
This isn’t a party film nor is it an after school special, moralizing on the ills of youth drug use. This is very simply about Greg opening his eyes and owning the journey he’s on. “
We’ll follow Chris on any journey he wants. We invite you to do the same here.
For the first time, SLIFF Online has select THREE Filmmakers to Watch for July. Each of these projects is exemplary in their own way while embodying the characteristics we measure to count them among the BEST FILMS IN THE WORLD!
Leslie Ortiz & Gabriela Cruz
June, 2018 Winner, 'How NOT to Capture the Grand Canyon' - USA
With handmade charm and intimacy, this compact account of the grandest of all natural formations is as deeply carved as its subject. Director Romey packs us along with the rest of his gear - losing some to the Colorado River and some to technical gremlins - before showing us the climax of his trip in the pages of a sketchbook.
Says Romey, "Sketching and watercolors can seem like outdated skills, until all your fancy camera equipment is sitting at the bottom of the Colorado river. In todays world it can be easy to see life behind a screen, but after this experience I am trying to spend more time looking and experiencing than capturing."
As much a meditation on the nature of technology and storytelling as it is on Nature itself, 'How NOT to...' is what short documentaries should be: travelogues for the spirit.
Here's to Romey sharing as many of his experiences as he can.
May, 2018 Winner, 'I Will Crush You and Go To Hell' - FRA
Advertising Art Director Fabio Soares has turned his well-honed skills on filmmaking to dizzying effect. IWCYAGTH is a relentless visual feast crafted with style and attitude. A road movie that follows two angry sisters hell-bent on collecting their due, this teaser for a feature length iteration of its story is a standalone gem promising great things from its creator.
April, 2018 Winner, 'Blind' - AUS
Writer/Producer James Cripps created the webseries 'Blind' as a "youth-focussed comedy-drama with an existential pulse and countercultural soul." That's about right. 'Blind' had us dizzy with its take on the lives of young people, drugs, music, and relationships. A digital funhouse that dares to push the boundaries of serialized web content through its well-crafted characters and rich story world, 'Blind' has us craving more from this team. And according to Cripps, the next project can be summed up in one word: "Vampires!" Follow 'Blind' on Twitter and Instagram: @Blind_Webseries or Facebook: @blindwebseries.
March, 2018 Winner, 'The Hun' - USA
An Emerson College senior, Tyler Mendelson has more than just this finely crafted period piece to his name. He also served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Enduring Freedom. A history buff, writing and directing 'The Hun' was a natural extension of Tyler's interests and experiences. With a goal of shedding some light on American involvement in World War 1, Tyler has created a moving - and timeless - story. As he graduates from Emerson with this calling card, we look forward to his next project, no longer a student, or a sergeant, but as a true filmmaker.
Zohar Melinek Ezra & Afek Testa Launer
February, 2018 Winner 'Spectrums' - ISR
Ezra's and Launer's docu-series on the Israeli transgender community is nothing short of revelatory. "You want to be a part of me, my life?" asks one of the series' subjects. "See that you are worthy of it." That kind of resilience and hope contrasts with harrowing stories of rejection, oppression, depression and seemingly endless pain. "Spectrums" brings out the most profound honesty from its various subjects, who clearly need to be heard in a world still struggling to see trans people as humans worthy of respect.
Ezra and Launer don't shy away from these stories or their landscapes, revealing a gritty Israel that feels at once young and ancient. Perhaps that dichotomy is what makes this series so watchable. Change - personal or political - doesn't come easy in this place. And yet, in the face of towering acrimony, the trans humans of 'Spectrums' are no different than any other Israeli or Palestinian asserting his or her right to belong in that strip of land. They are Worthy. And demand to be treated as such.
January, 2018 Winner: 'Envy' - UK
Like many of our submitters, Sam Hoggarth is a working professional and cinematographer/gun for hire during the day. His SH Film is home to a menu of services including wedding videos, corporate communications and even custom actor showreel demos. Sam's entrepreneurial spirit seems an essential quality for today's independent filmmaker: the only way to get your film made today is to do it yourself.
'Envy' is one of 5 shorts helmed by this young auteur, and demonstrates the results of Hoggarth's grit. A dark tale of youthful anxiety run amok in a small acting class, 'Envy' is performed by a young cast expertly guided by Hoggarth.
With plans for a feature version of 'Envy' and television concepts, as well, Hoggarth's name is one to keep an eye out for as he makes his own way.
(Note: While 'Envy' continues its festival circuit run, the film is restricted from online showings. Until that journey is over, enjoy Hoggarth's cinematography, below. You can also follow the film itself at the SH Film site, here.
October-November Winner: 'Se, Hvilken Klovn' ('Behold, Such a Clown') - Denmark
Jacob Pilgaard's sensitive short, 'Behold, Such a Clown' immediately plunges the audience into such emotionally raw territory, it almost feels as though you've stepped into the middle of a feature film of staggering tragedy. It is, however, a beautifully performed short film with the emotional depth and complexity of the greatest stories, regardless of length.
A snapshot of the last day of employment for a clown at a children's hospital, 'Behold, Such a Clown' reveals the talents of all its creators through their pure dedication to story and character. It is a shining reminder of the power of cinema that should be required viewing for novice and veteran filmmakers alike.
Pilgaard's next project is a comedy which begins shooting in January. "We really hope to make people laugh next time," he says. We're looking forward to whatever he creates in his bright future.
September Winner: 'Luca' - Germany
Writer/Director Adi Wojaczek's 'Luca' is a tautly executed tale of humanity, identity and courage. Set in the middle of a prestigious dance competition during which a last minute change of a principal dancer must be made, 'Luca' manages to create remarkable tension, pathos and comedy into 15 minutes of charge filmmaking.
Wojaczek's school-age outsider status has informed much of his work. "I I like telling stories of outsiders or people who are disadvantaged in a way," he says. " 'Luca' is the next step in this evolution." His next project is a music video trilogy following an asian boy raised to be a soldier in the imperial army who must face his deepest fears.
A German qualifier for this year's Academy Awards, 'Luca' continues a very successful festival tour by gracing SLIFF Online with its powerful story.
Follow the film and Wojaczek on Facebook @LucaShortFilm
August Winner: 'Warrior' - Canada
Cieplik's short documentary focussing on three Canadian infantry veterans of deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan is a unique view into the human experience of battle. The courage and sensitivity of the film's subjects is well-matched with that of the filmmakers, who deliver these warrior's stories as though we are all their war buddies.
The film's producer, Maria-Nicole Miriklis says, "Our intent in making this film was to bring the 'ground truth' to a civilian audience. We wanted to have the audience literally take on the perspective of a solider and show just how complex the issues and the people who deal with them are. It is always important to consider how war impacts people and as a society we often overlook or tend to avoid the hard task of listening to soldiers' experiences."
Those experiences are brought into sharp focus not only from their camp-fire testimony, but remarkably via the soldiers' own helmet camera footage shot during their deployments.
Frank Aron Gårdsø
July Winner: 'Takk for Alt (Thanks for Everything)' - Norway
Working behind the scenes day to day, filmmaker Frank Aron Gårdsø spends his free time making short films amidst Norway's tight-knit film community.
His sixth short, Takk for Alt is a carefully structured tale of chance, relationships, regret and tragedy, told with a wry, fresh voice and restrained visual style.
Filled with character revelations and small clues which illuminate its themes, Takk for Alt is that rare short film which contains as much story and character as any feature length film.
Which is appropriate, as Gårdsø's next project is a feature. "It's time to take the jump," he tells us.
Just as long as it's not off a bridge, we can't wait for the leap.
ANDRII & OLGA ANDREIEV
June Winner: 'Antarctica'
Global explorers who document the far reaches of the planet, the Andreievs have made a name for themselves via their Paganel Studios .
But with 'Antarctica,' the duo have outdone themselves. A montage of spectacular footage of the icy continent, this short film reveals one natural wonder after another within it's brief seven and a half minutes.
"We show life as it is there - beautiful and severe," says Andrii.
Amongst the beauty they documented: a "bubble feeding net" from krill-hunting whales. This technique of creating a spiral bubble formation below the surface of the sea traps krill within its confines just long enough to be scooped up by open-mouthed whales rising from directly below. From the bird's-eye view of Paganel's drone, the phenomena is as visually arresting as it is scientifically significant: such hunting techniques had only previously been observed around Alaska's shores until Paganel's footage confirmed whales have been practicing at the southern pole, as well.
The Andreievs are a pair worthy of the title Filmmakers to Watch - as every new adventure they pursue yields one more fresh view of our world.
May Winner: "Echo Park Blues"
Veteran Actor Michael Bofshever makes his directorial debut with Echo Park Blues with a screenplay by Rick Lieberman based on their original story.
A sensitively rendered tale of washed up jazz saxophonist Teddy Bender, who has finally written the song of his life, Echo Park Blues explores the themes of success, redemption and love via sadsack Bender's creative journey. Solid performances and camerawork deliver a complete world in 17 minutes that exemplifies the power of short format storytelling as well as any we've seen.
Bofshever is known from his film and television credits include notable roles in Breaking Bad, The Jersey, and True Blood, A Dog's Purpose, United 93, and Crime of the Century. A teacher and published author, Bofshever is the author of Your Face Looks Familiar...How To Get Ahead as a Working Actor.
However, his future behind the camera continues apace: Bofshever has optioned award winning writer Donald Lystra's collection of short stories, Something that Feels like Truth with the aim of turning it into a screenplay with screenwriter Steve Armour.
April Winner: 'Embers & Dust'
Patrick Biesemans's "thank you card" to Orson Welles, imagination, and the importance of mass media communications is an exquisitely produced short film. Striking images, careful casting and an unusually skilled orchestration of tension mark this piece as award-worthy.
Biesemans considers short films "as postcards from another time and place," which fairly sums up this film's ultimate effect on the viewer. Produced with a grant from Musicbed's 2016 Film Initiative, "Embers & Dust" perfectly pushes the boundaries of the short film format, delivering feature-length emotional impact and unforgettable visual style in 11 minutes.
His first foray into writing, producing and directing, Biesemans has more in store for us in the future, noting, "I've been hesitant for so long venturing into the world of writer-director territory but now, because of the positive and enthusiastic response to Embers & Dust, I have the confidence to nurture my ambitions."
March Submission: Narrative Short 'Ici ou La-bas (Right Here or Over There)'
SLIFF Online's first Filmmaker to Watch is awarded to this first-time filmmaker from France. Mabille's story of a young woman's return home after several years gone is a masterful work of short cinema, from its expertly revealed story to its carefully rendered characters. With stellar performances from Anaelle Corlin, Chantal Baroin and Erik Stouvenaker, Mabille's 16.5 minute glimpse into a family shattered by tragedy is a study in sensitive filmmaking and the power resulting from a restrained hand.
Not surprisingly to us, the film has seen great success on the festival circuit, including a coveted position in Canne's Short Film Corner. Says Mabille: “Ici ou La-bas is my first film. The festival success of this film is incredible for me. Since I was 6 years old, I’ve dreamt of making movies, but never formally studied filmmaking, so I’m entirely self-taught. I hope to make a feature length version of this story and am writing a second film about love, friendship and the passage of time. I’m so grateful for our wonderful crew who trusted me to make this film.”
For a freshman effort, this film promises great things from Mabille. We’re honored to name her our first Filmmaker to Watch and can't wait to see what's next from her.
(NOTE: While the film continues its real-world festival journey, SLIFF Online is prohibited from screening the film in its entirety. As soon as the streaming rights become available, we look forward to being able to share it with you)
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