I was at IndieCork 2018! Only saw a handful of films, but let’s talk about them briefly:

Utøya 22. juli

imageThis film focuses on the 2011 massacre caused by Norwegian far right terrorist Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people and injured over 300 in the space of a day. Rather smartly, it does not focus on Breivik, and instead looks at one of the girls who was at the camp he shot up at Utøya. Nearly every single scene in the film was shot in one take in real time, which does wonders for the tension. The acting is great from the young cast, especially getting across the fear and panic of being randomly landed in something so brutal and disorienting. You feel so much for the lead and every emotion hits home. Really uncomfortable but memorable experience, this one comes highly recommended. 9/10

Smuggling Hendrix

screen-shot-2018-04-23-at-7-37-51-pm-770x481The official opening film of IndieCork focuses on a Cyprus man whose dog goes across the Turkish boarder and, due to stipulations reinforced by the boarder police, cannot legally be returned to the Greek side. This causes him to hatch a plan involving his ex-girlfriend, a local on the Turkish side and a drug smuggler to get his dog back before he leaves the island in three days. The script is witty and blunt as a rock with its depiction of the ridiculousness of the scenario, and really gets across the needless bureaucracy when it comes to conflict zones such as this. The lead is really well developed, and I really like the man on the Turkish side who dreams of a better life. Things that kind of let this down is some off-kilter balancing of the tone when they take issues of cultural status and class more seriously. Also the third act has a few too many easy outs and an eye rolling moment which don’t feel earned. Still, it’s entertaining and really sharp, with a great score and really engaging set pieces. 7/10

Between a Rock and a Wave

entre-la-ola-y-la-roca-2Gonna be honest, I don’t remember a lot about this one. it looks at the Costa da Morte, Galicia in Mexico, whose residents make their living a percebeiros (barnacle pickers), an intensely dangerous job which is becoming harder to maintain. There is some beautiful imagery at the opening and ending, it’s decently shot throughout. But it’s just not very engagingly told and I found it difficult to keep interested as it dragged out it’s pretty short run time. Some lovely cinematography and a sympathetic subject matter sadly did not translate into an engaging story all around. 4/10

The Holy Fail

maxresdefaultThis low budget Cork film looks at a married couple whose spark is rekindled when they decide to get involved with a friend’s plan to rob his miserly boss who keeps all his money in a safe. It’s got the usual trappings of a low budget film: the lighting is not the best and the scene-to-scene editing can be wonky, a lot of it is the just throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks, etc. While I commend the filmmakers for just how much passion they had for it to the point where they actually composed songs for this, I don’t know if they were that well used overall. Having said all that, there’s a lot of great heart and it does end up as a very entertaining romp. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, every character is charming and likeable with their own energy. The actress who plays the nun was fantastic, giving probably the best performance. I may have some quibbles, but I think overall it works and is definitely one of the most entertaining low-budget fares I’ve seen in quite a while. Its bouncy, fun writing and endearing performances are what make it worth checking out. 6/10


maxresdefault1This film was co-written by Efthymis Filippou, who outside of having a name I hope I never have to pronounce is a frequent co-writer for Yorgos Lanthimos, working on films like The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. That off-kilter and darkly humourous sense of perspective on the human spirit is alive here, with the confident and blunt direction of Babis Makridis to convey that with stark and total clarity. I completely got every frame of cruel intention of the premise. And while Pity does start off kind of slow, the story of a man who seems to be revelling in the pity he’s receiving due to his wife being in a coma is both incredibly uncomfortable and incredibly hilarious. The lead performance is perfect, and the constant escalation in his desperate attempts to get sympathy from people is funny, sad and eventually disturbed. Don’t wanna say much more here, it’s great, check it out. 8/10

Minding the Gap

minding_the_gap_hulu_bing_liu_1Hands down my favourite film in the festival, and the best documentary I’ve seen all year. This one is set in Rockford, Illinois, and focuses on three friends (one of them the director), who’ve known each other from their teen years through skating circles, as they grow into early adulthood. I love watching skating on film, and the director has shot this kind of stuff since he was pretty young so it’s really good looking here. That’s not really what’s at the heart of the story however; it looks at the cyclical effects of abuse and trauma, and how your surroundings and hometown reflect who you are growing up. Rockford is almost a character in its own rights, a constant fixture in their lives. It’s sense of humanity and mature exploration of complex emotions makes it stand out, and you genuinely hope for the best as these guys struggle to make sense of past and their own identities. This is a nearly flawless film, and I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone. 9/10

Unlocking the Cage

maxresdefault2This documentary focuses on the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), an animal rights organisation that attempts to defend them on a legal basis. The story focuses on their campaign to gain legal status of personhood to certain species of animals, as they fight to grant habeas corpus for several chimps in order to save them from their captivity,. There’s a really natural shift halfway through as we focus more on the court cases, and they are compelling. There’s nothing that unique about how the film was made or framed, but for anybody interested in these kinds of animal rights it’s definitely a must-see. It’s a bit too standard for my taste, but the subject itself is fascinating and it encouraged me to want to learn more about the NhRP. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in the subject matter. 7/10

Daughter of Mine

figlia_mia_1920x1080px_2The closing film looks at the complex deal between two women and a ten-year-old girl, as her biological mother agreed to let her adopted mother take care of her without her knowledge in exchange for supporting her. When the biological mother can no longer afford to stay at her house and the adopted mother can’t bail her out, things start to get more complicated. I feel the archetypes the two older women fall under is a bit trite, even with the film’s attempts to make them a bit more dynamic. The adopted mother is the good, clean Christian woman, and the bio mom is a drunk and promiscuous. Unfortunately, they go a bit too far to make the latter seem sympathetic, and the former is incredibly unlikeable. It made it hard to really care about what happened to her. The daughter of theirs is also kind of a cipher. Also the cinematography is…odd, and the way the camera followed the characters bugged me, I don’t know why it was shot like that. I think the acting from the two leads was fine, it’s nice to see Udo Kier, and the score was unusual (in a good way) and sparsely used which I appreciated. It’s not the worst, but it failed to really grab my interest and I came away just not really feeling much for this, which was a shame. Also the climax of this film is beyond dumb. Nothing to rush out to catch. 5/10

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