Stanger With My Face International Film Festival is a festival that concentrates on female-make film, with a definite penchant to horror and life explorations. Each edition brings current films and issues as well as older films and a bunch of shorts to their audience while also pushing them to think about some of the issues women face in life as well as in moviemaking.
Director Max Beauchamp’s “Iridescence” is an excellent short film and one that we desperately need these days. Conveyed through motion, body language, and dance, “Iridescence” is the story of one family torn apart and destroyed by ignorance and misunderstanding. Relying on ace editing by Duy N. Bui and fantastic choreography, director Beauchamp tells the story of the tragic death of a wife at the hands of her husband one fateful night. Years later their son grows up confused about his own sexuality and is struggling to hide his affair with another man from his violent father.
I don’t know how many audiences will click with “Glimpse” but for folks that can appreciate film as an experimental form of art with no real narrative, John Nicol’s movie is solid. It has no story and no dialogue and often time feels like some kind of music video, but it’s well made. Director Nicol seems to know what kind of movie he’s making, even if it’s never quite clear throughout the eight minute run time.
Adrian Murray’s “Withdrawn” is like Gus Van Sant attempted mumblecore but decided to make it even more droning and monotonous. It’s kind of like performance art through and through, all testing our patience for the insanely mundane and minute, while character Aaron goes through his every day life literally doing nothing. About halfway he has some financial scheme planned to keep his rented room but that’s not the important element. It’s all about how tedious the film can get and if we’re willing to wait for our pay off, if it ever comes at all. Aaron fixes a fern. He looks up tutorials on trying to solve a rubiks cube, and even has a five minute telephone discussion where we only hear him talking to and responding to the individual. Yes, I get it.
Emiliano Rocha Minter’s “We Are The Flesh” is arthouse, horror, fantasy, surrealism, experimental. It’s also droning, boring, and at barely eighty minutes goes on way too long. “We are the Flesh” begins as something of a post apocalyptic tale where two wandering Mexican teenagers find a demented older man living by himself in isolation as a hermit in a humongous building. Everyday he forages for resources, and makes new resources which he trades for food by some unseen entity behind a wall. The minute the pair finds him, they’re taken in to his bosom, and are dropped in to demented world that is either Eden or Damnation. Quite clearly, Emiliano Rocha Minter seeks to take all kinds of imagery and use it as a sense of multipurpose provocative metaphor and symbolism, and pretty much all of it is a chore to sit through.
Director Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner’s short “Scavengers” originally premiered on cable television and is admittedly at home in the Adult Swim studio library. The studio that thrives on creating different entertainment, “Scavengers” is an ambitious and thought provoking animated film with no dialogue, but incredible sound design. The experience of “Scavengers” hinges on every sound we hear in this new environment, and we’re thrust in to a new world without having characters over explain and hold our hands through what we’re watching.
This year brought a lot of film festival coverage opportunities for me which means I was able to attend and/or cover twelve film festivals/events. That being said, these paired with a ton of good independent titles meant I had very little time for wider theater releases. This not mean the latter were not good, it only means that I saw a grand total of three major releases (Deadpool, Rogue One, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) on the big screen.
First, here are my special mentions: L’Elan, Deadpool, Saving Mr. Wu, The Laundryman, Realive, Bed of the Dead, Let Her Out, Alena, Corp Etranger (Foreign Body), They Call Me Jeeg Robot, Karate Kill, The Eyes of My Mother, Rogue One, The Witch, Southbound, Antibirth, The Love Witch.
With no further ado, here is my top ten favorite movies from 2016:
So many, many short films are made each year, yet a lot of film fans overlook them, thus making themselves a disservice. 2016 saw a fantastically good crop of shorts from a variety of countries, showcasing the talents of filmmakers worth watching. In 2016, I saw over 175 short films through film festivals, Vimeo, YouTube, etc. Choosing a top 10 was tough this year and kept changing from day to day. Out of those ever changing titles, here are the 10 Best short films, or my 10 favorites at the moment, and a bunch more worth checking out.
Special mentions (aka I wish it were a top 25): Innsmouth, Postpartum, Stained, Injustice for All, Japanese Legends: Slit, Watchbear, The Puppet Man, Kaddish!, Little Boy Blue, Deathly, Overtime, Hoshino, The Tunnel, Bionic Girl, and Disco Inferno.
On to the Top 10…