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This year, the Gen Art Film Festival 2006 premiered 7 exciting films along with accompanying short films. The films come from previous film festivals such as Sundance and South by Southwest and include Q&A sessions and booze-filled after-parties.
The short film At the Beach, directed by Andrew Lloyd, is more of a psychological horror film without gore, but with good use of music and cinematography to add some scares.
Behind the Mask, directed by Scott Glosserman, is one of the most entertaining mockumentaries about a fictionalized horror villain called Leslie Vernon, played to perfection by Nathan Baesel. At times, it recalls The Blair Witch Project, but it’s much less pretentious and a true crowd pleaser for fans of the horror genre. Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Opens March 16th, 2007 at the AMC Empire 25 and Village East Cinemas.
Dreamland, by director Jason Matzner kicked off the festival at the grand, luxurious Ziegfeld Theater. It stars Agnes Bruckner as Audrey, a young woman whose life at desert trailer park changes after she meets young man named Mookie (Long). John Corbett plays Audrey’s low-life father and Kelli Garner plays her best friend Calista who suffers from an illness. The cinematography is very dreamy at times but the real pleasure here is watching the beautiful Agnes Bruckner shine.Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low Wet, the preceding short film directed by Hanna Beth King fits perfectly with the lush cinematography of Dreamland and the issue of coming-of-age, which is handles subtly as well.
F*ck, directed by Steve Anderson, is the only film with a distributo. It's also the most controversial film in the festival and generated the most laughs from the rowdy audience. However, as fun as it is to hear celebrities such as Bill Maher, Alanis Morissette, Kevin Smith, and Janeane Garofolo repeatedly and non-chalantly use the word in its many different contexts, there's not enough insight or revelations about the origins of the titular word. It's well-edited with some wildly imaginative animation, but ultimately feels underwhelming. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens November 10th, 2006 at the Quad Cinema. Released by THINKfilm.
The short film Intervention, directed by Jay Duplass, is about friends who gradually convince one of their friends to admit that he’s gay. It’s very well written.
Live Free or Die! , the closing night feature film about John (Aaron Stanford) who lives life on the fringe and gets into trouble when he teams up with a high school friend Lagrand (Paul Schneider) and Lagrand’s sister (Zooey Deschanel). The weak script has too many plot-holes and one-dimensional characters. Paul Schneider gives an awkward performance, as if he’s trying to channel Will Ferrell. Released by THINKfilm. Opens March 30th, 2007.
Neverwas, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, boasts a terrific performance by Ian McKellan as a man locked up in a mental institution who suffers from delusions after reading a children’s book. Aaron Eckhart plays Zach, his shrink who means more to him than he thinks and Brittney Murphy as Zach’s love interest. There’s beautiful cinematography and a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass. The Passage of Mrs.Calabash, a short film directed by Scott Tuft, has too many distracting fade-to-black cuts, but has very natural dialogue between two passengers on a train.
The Shirt, a short directed by Drake Doremus, takes a simple thing we all take for granted (a shirt) and makes into a big deal—as if the main character’s life would change when he would find the “perfect” shirt. It’s a very fresh, original, yet bizarre short film.
Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace, according to director Bruce Leddy, is inspired by Diner. However, it veers much closer to The Big Chill because it’s about choir boys who reunite during their adulthood. Despite a colorful cast, the contrived plot lacks real humor and enough insight. Molly Shannon steals the show, though, in her hilarious role as a vulgar, sex-crazed wife. This marks Bruce Leddy's feature film debut. Released by Strand Releasing. Opens April 27th, 2007.
The short documentary film This Morning shows how a young, misbehaving child uses the f-word toward his mother and sister, but it ends up feeling too exploitive and redundant.
The feature Wristcutters: A Love Story, directed by Goran Dukic, features Patrick Fugit as Zia, a young man who commits suicide and searches for his girlfriend in the afterlife. He goes on a road-trip with a guy named Eugene (Shea Wigham) and, soon, Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) joins their adventures. The endlessly inventive screenplay is full of dark, bizarre humor and memorable, refreshing characters.Entertainment Value: Very High. Spiritual Value: High. She, She, She, She’s a Bombshell, the preceding animated short film by director Ben Levin also has bizarre humor, but it’s dry rather than dark and involves a young man recalling a beautiful girl he recently met, but forgot to ask one crucial bit of information from her: her phone number.
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