That’s right, unstoppable – that’s DWF20, with its wide ranging variety of films that are truly as “fiercely independent” as the fest proclaims.
The first competition feature we took in was Grief, a film written as a catharsis after the loss of an unborn baby. Director/writer/star Kevin Renwick took on the volatile subject of the death of a child, adding in suicide and of course, the titular grief, in a compellingly watchable film that took two years to complete.
Next up, Tomorrow, Maybe, a well-acted potboiler about an ex-con dad, his estranged daughter, and her abusive marriage. Jace Daniel, Roy Kirk 1st, and Robert Blanche wrote, with Blanche also starring; director Jace Daniel compelling helmed a story that grew from workshopping and table reads.
Above, director Cat Hostick on the set of The Meaning of Life.
On Tuesday, The Meaning of Life was a weepie about a teen musician and his fortuitous meeting with a 9-year-old cancer patient at the local hospital where he works. Writer director Cat Hostick expertly wrung the pathos from her script, with the music of Canadian pop celeb Tyler Shaw a standout.
Chance, a wonderful 3-D animated story about pit bulls trained to fight against their nature, was decidedly not directed at children. Still, it was a sweet story with a wonderfully modulated script; a message movie with a real heart. This was the film that brought tears for me. Writer Kenny Young and director Kenny Roy drew expert performances from their voice cast, and were inspired by a friend of a friend whose lovable dog was entered in a fight. Heartbroken, the pair worked for 7 years to get the story to screen. Terrific score, great cause, too.
I flat out loved Imitation Girl, writer/director Natasha Kermani’s deeply original story about an alien and her doppelganger earth girl “Visual motif is of yin and yang. We wanted the story of a fresh creature who comes to earth and she was welcomed.” Kermani added “I am actually a musician and filmmaker. I knew lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter and I wanted to do something about structure. About twins. I’m a Gemini,” she laughed.
A packed house gasped and shrieked over the horror film Lore, based on Native American legends. Shot on location in Idaho, the film is full of well-timed jumps and scares. The story was in part shaped by the beautiful location that the filmmakers chose; a harrowing location as it turned out with cold weather, storms, and an altitude of 8000-9000 feet haunting the crew in reality even as their characters are haunted on screen. Writer/directors Christian Larsen and Brock Manwill know how to thrill and chill, and offer a smart, ambiguous ending in the bargain.
More Dances with Films on tap tomorrow – why not join us in viewing the Thursday-Sunday slate and find filmmaking magic right in the middle of Hollywood.
- Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke