Leighton Pierce – White Ash (2014)

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WHITE ASH is an immersive walk through the edges of consciousness. While firmly grounded in recognizable images and sounds captured from reality, WHITE ASH is designed to scrape through the patina of normal day to day perception, leading to an embodied associational state, something ‘to the side’ of our familiar narratives and perceptions. Pierce meticulously eaves the warp and weft of image and sound to gently lead the viewer into this very conscious yet meditative state. Beginning with the shooting and then the animation of thousands of moving camera, hand held, long exposure digital still photographs into abstractions actual space and events, Pierce then re-articulates and re-contextualizes the video by applying the lever of his judiciously and intentionally composed concrete-music soundtrack. Continue reading

Emir Baigazin – Ranenyy angel AKA The Wounded Angel (2016)

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A godforsaken Kazakh village in the mid-1990s where four youths are trying to find their way in life. Zharas suffers because his father, an ex-con, cannot find a job. To help make ends meet the boy takes on casual work at a corn merchant’s. Balapan can sing ‘Ave Maria’ as clear as a bell but his schoolmates provoke him into using his fists rather than his voice. Zhaba roams about the village ruins looking for waste metal he can sell. He comes across three bedraggled boys of his own age who have run away from a nearby home and are sleeping in a derelict tunnel. Aslan is about to take up studies in medicine but, after having persuaded his girlfriend to have an abortion, he undergoes a complete change in personality. Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Kurîpî: Itsuwari no rinjin AKA Creepy (2016)

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Takakura is a former detective. He receives a request from his ex-colleague, Nogami, to examine a missing family case that occurred 6 years earlier. Takakura follows Saki’s memory. She is the only surviving family member from the case. Meanwhile, Takakura and his wife Yasuko recently moved into a new home. Their neighbor, Nishino, has a sick wife and a young teen daughter. One day, the daughter, Mio, tells him that the man is not her father and she doesn’t know him at all. Continue reading

Cãtãlin Mitulescu – Dincolo de calea feratã AKA By The Rails (2016)

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Radu has come back from Italy after an year and finds his wife totally changed. They spend the night trying to rediscover their selves. The distance has created distrust and confusion between them but Radu hopes for a new beginning. Music resounds beyond the railroad. The night was never that long. Continue reading

Anna Muylaert – Mãe Só Há Uma AKA Don’t Call Me Son (2016)

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Most films—especially taut, lower-budgeted indies—choose one theme or dramatic premise and run with it. Others cross-wire two potent and ostensibly unrelated ideas and bask in the sparks they generate.

The terrifically assured and engrossing Brazilian film “Don’t Call Me Son” is a great example of the latter breed. On the one hand, writer/director Anna Muylaert invites us to contemplate the fluidity of adolescent gender identity via the story of teenage boy who’s testing boundaries by drifting provocatively between male and female appearances. (If this sounds like a topic for a Gender Studies class, fear not: the film is a drama, not a lecture.) On the other hand, Muylaert also probes how much of who we are comes from family, since, additionally, her tale concerns kids who were removed from their biological parents at birth. Continue reading