The best of Slamdance 2020
The annual film convention Slamdance, held by filmmakers for filmmakers, is currently underway in Park City, Utah and is seeing the premiere of several highly-buzzed about short films, features and documentaries. ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to watch a portion of the catalogue of the films screening and below we have gathered our favorites!
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Shoot to Marry
- Director/Star: Steve Markle
- Rating: 8/10
The world is one of the things humanity has to cope with, from online dating to trying to figure out how to strike a conversation with someone in person up to the blind date a friend will set up. In his poignant and intriguing documentary, Shoot to Marry, filmmaker Steve Markle takes his disillusionment with being single and turns his lens to explore the facets of the dating world in the aftermath of a major breakup and journeys around the country meeting various women and interviewing them about their experiences with dating and in hopes of even meeting someone he can connect with. The plot of the documentary might sound familiar for some Japanese horror fans, and the film does frequently stray into very uncomfortable territory in moments as viewers want to sympathize with Steve and root for him in his search for love, but his narration shows some questionable techniques and intentions on his behalf. A number of the nature works towards the documentary’s more comedic nature, and Markle shoots it with a eye, but it distracts from assisting this film soar to the heights it could have reached.
- Director: Lynne Sachs
- Rating: 9.5/10
The love between a father and his children may be viewed for both parties involved as unconditional, but there are several circumstances that could challenge that love, including a divorce between parents. In Lynne Sachs’ Film About a Father Who, she takes her camera and the changes in technology from 1984 to 2019 and focuses it upon her father Ira Sachs Sr, a pioneering businessman from Park City who hid a large web of secrets from her mother and her sisters, including a range of relationships with other girls and even spawning kids with stated girls. Sachs takes a more intimate approach by letting the audience decide how they feel about his transgressions while it might appear easy to paint her father as the villain in the documentary. The changes in technology over the years also helps to provide a style with the interviews filmed in 16 and 8 mm demonstrating compelling to watch.
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- Director/Writer: Merawi Gerima
- Rating: 7.5/10
The topic of gentrification in america is one of the most significant topics many filmmakers aren’t taking the time to delve into, with last year’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco being one of the most notable endeavors to do so and now Merawi Gerima tries to capture its spirit in the form of Residue. Set around an aspiring screenwriter returning to his hometown, the film follows him as he sees his neighborhood becoming drastically gentrified, with his older friends having to turn to crime to continue living in the area or selling out to the wealthy white people looking to turn the area around. Gerima directs with a rather artful eye and his cast all deliver sound performances in their roles, but the film’s flaws lie in the mixed bag of storytelling in attempting to deliver its widespread themes, occasionally feeling as if it’s contradicting its own messages or not understanding how it wants to inform them in a fashion that’s both realistic and satisfactory to audiences wanting a more optimistic conclusion.
- Director: Olivia Peace
- Rating: 9.5/10
The coming-of-age genre has seen several fascinating subsections, with one of the most timely and compelling of late being that of the coming-out selection, and while films like Love, Simon has managed the material in a respectful but more happy-go-lucky fashion, Olivia Peace’s Tahara tackles the problem in a way that feels wholly original and true to reality. The film follows two sisters Carrie and Hannah, who’ve been inseparable for as long as they know, but if a classmate of theirs commits suicide seemingly linked to her sexuality, it brings out a lot of complicated emotions between the two, especially following a singing exercise awakens something in Carrie. Setting the film in a Jewish high school helps investigate topics of questioning faith in addition to a burgeoning sexuality and it’s handled in a really fascinating manner, from its tighter aspect ratio producing more intimate character function to its script handling the ups-and-downs of coming out affecting friendships. This is truly one of the most original films in the coming-of-age subgenre in a long time and one that ought to be discussed and revisited time and going into the future.