Ben’s Breakdown | Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival Review

We here at TG2 Studios had the pleasure of attending the Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival as put on by program director Hal Astell (see Press Release and interview with Hal Astell) this last weekend here in Phoenix, and what a festival it was! On Saturday there were a total of 34 films and Sunday gave us 23, all made up of short films and features, for a total of 57 films. This festival was all over the place in terms of its content, but the categories were broken down as such: Horror, Sci-Fi, and Other. This last category was comprised of movies that Hal had received for consideration but did not fit in either the Horror or Sci-Fi categories, yet they were so strong he felt a need to present them.

The films with their descriptions, as well as mini-reviews for each of these films, is as follows:

 

SATURDAY 10/12

Sci-Fi Shorts A
Blink

Directed by Benjamin Anderson & Sawyer Purman

“Blink is a short film telling the story of the first manned mission to Jupiter and the fate of the crew who venture into the eye of the great red storm.”

There were some spectacular visuals, although the science isn’t very good if you’re going for science fiction. The landing on Jupiter itself would have been an impossibility simply because of the gravity. Nonetheless, it does make for an interesting concept of having a planetary study of this nature. Sadly, the mission does not go well. The Earth-based footage is artistically spartan, giving it an almost severe sense of contrast. The abrupt ending feels like this could be a proof of concept for a larger project.

Links: Altrack Productions
Facebook: Blink

 

Deliver

Directed by Ricardo Farias

“In the near future. Humanity is on the edge of extinction and survival has become a perverse game. A couple travels somewhere unknown to make a trade-off. What they’ll exchange is a mystery, but, what they will receive in return could save them. What is this couple willing to sacrifice in order to survive?

This short film has some vague premise of what people have to do in order to survive. This also serves as a possible commentary on what humanity might become if civilization has collapsed. This was very open-ended and left many questions.

Links: DELIVER shortfilm – Giant Films
IMDb: Deliver (2018)
Facebook: Deliver

 

The Body Client

Directed by Alexander Frank

“Unable to pay back his student loans, a young man is hunted down by the Citizens Financing Office, which gives him one way to escape imprisonment: offer his services to the Body Client.”

This is very German in style. It has a rather dark humor about it. This could be viewed as a darker version of Altered Carbon, but with some interesting twists. This was a very satisfying story.

Links: FREMDKÖRPERKREDIT (Short)
IMDb: The Body Client (2018)

 

Pinki

Directed by Spike Hyunsuk Kim

“In a back street, a scrap monster makes a sudden lunge at a man. A pink-haired girl helps him, and their future is down to whether he remembers her or not.”

A very Japanese movie about a young girl who shares memories and music. She is like a Walkman, but there is no clarity to the story. Conceptually it is way out there and introduces McGuffins that make absolutely no sense.

Link:
IMDb: Pinki (2019)

 

Caronte

Directed by Luis Pineda

“Debbie is rude with her own family. But after a dramatic car accident, she starts to regret about the way she behaved with them. Unexpectedly, Debbie’s story connects with Arsys’s, an experienced military and space fighter pilot who tries to survive a huge space battle which takes place in another time… another galaxy… another universe.”

A seemingly disjointed tale where a woman has some type of space pilot, and back on Earth there is a young girl, Debbie, who has suffered some brain injury. Just as the pilot has a mission to complete, Debbie has a very important task that she must finish for her brother, even at the cost of her life. This was a truly beautiful and touching story.

Links: Caronte – Scifi Short Film. An Onirikal Studio VFX shortfilm, directed by Luis Tinoco
IMDb: Caronte (2017)
Facebook: Caronte – Short Film
Instagram: CARONTE – Scifi Short Film
Twitter: CaronteShortFilm
Vimeo (Trailer): CARONTE – TRAILER by Onirikal Studio

 

Simulation

Directed by Hashem Al-Ghaili

“An advanced alien civilization builds a simulated reality where infinite beings, including humans, are imprisoned.”

Outstanding visuals. A boy has recurring dreams of walking in a forest and seeing something come through the atmosphere. It is a dream? Who is the alien race at the beginning? Why send a meteor? Nice use of historic facts of the meteor that crashed in Russia. Man is receiving messages from the future? Asks the question if we are nothing more than just a computer simulation, or is it? Similarities to The Matrix. Ambitiously philosophical short about our existence. This could work as a feature-length film.

Links: Simulation: A Sci-Fi Film Directed By Hashem Al-Ghaili
IMDb: Simulation (2019)
Facebook: Simulation
YouTube (Trailer): Simulation – Final Trailer

 

This is Fine

Directed by Roth Rind

“A meteor is hurtling towards Earth, and there’s nothing we can do to stop its imminent impact. For three ex-best friends, that might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.”

This is a dark film about what we might devolve to if humanity is about to experience a sudden extinction event. This was quite humorous.

Links: THIS IS FINE | Short Film
IMDb: This is Fine (2019)

 

Feature
Automation

Directed by Garo Setian

“When a prototype automated worker robot named Auto has proven successful on the night shift at Alert Insulation, plans are put in motion to replace almost all the human employees with the next generation of robots—but to Auto’s dismay, he is also to be replaced by the new and improved robots—something he refuses to accept and takes murderous action to prevent.”

This is another cautionary tale about the perils of working with artificial intelligence, and not just an indictment on the use of automation used to replace the human workforce. And what happens if the automatons actually learn what it feels like to be terminated? It could be about the exploitation of the intelligent automated workforce, especially if the automatons actually started dreaming and becoming creative. There are some similarities to the 70’s sci-fi/horror movie Westworld in regards to Auto’s chase, but the theme of sentience returns at the end to remind us of our arrogance and hubris.

Links: Automation | Epic Pictures
IMDb: Automation (2019)

 

Other Shorts A
Not Your Day

Directed By George Meyers

“Vic is having a really bad day. It gets even worse when a carjacker decides to jump into Vic’s car and control his destiny. But the balance of power can change very quickly sometimes, and by the end of the ride the carjacker is the one having a really bad day.”

Already the premise based on the delivery of lines is too much. Poor scriptwriting took me out of the drama. However, I did like the turnaround of the situation.

Links:
IMDb: Not Your Day (2018)

 

I Don’t Want to Be Alone

Directed by Sergio Rozas

“A lonely girl walks around a future Tokyo chased by weird huge monsters. Even though she fights them, the monsters just keep growing in size and number so the girl has to make a decision.”

A short about what it must feel like for when loneliness becomes a living monster threatening to destroy you. There was some very interesting imagery used here. This is well told from a symbolic perspective.

 No Links Available

 

Straw, Wood, and Brick

Directed by Companyia Mec Mec

“We all know the story of the three little pigs… Maybe now is the time for his revenge…”

An interesting metaphorical tale about a property owner (wolf) taking people’s property, and then he came across three brothers, and they are the pigs. However, this story goes on and tells the story of the Big Wolf. This was a very stylish Mexican movie.

Links:
YouTube (Trailer): Trailer de “Paja, madera y ladrillo”

 

The Third Man

Directed by Andrés Daniel Sainz Hernando

“An old town. The night with its lights, its shadows, its deafening silence. A man walks down the empty streets. Someone follows him. A chase begins…”

The cinematography is amazing, but the story does not make any sense. Are we seeing a visual representation of a writer in this short film, and the two men are the creations of the writer in the film? Visually it was great, but the substance wasn’t very strong.

Links: EL TERCER HOMBRE – Andrés Daniel Sainz
IMDb: El Tercer hombre (2019)
Vimeo (Trailer): El tercer hombre (2018) Teaser B

 

Removal Process

Directed by Samuel Scott

“An online conspiracy theorist waits for his latest video to export but begins to suspect he’s being watched.”

This film defies description as it makes absolutely no sense. There was no actual story.

Links: Removal Process (2019) | Last Frame | Film & Commercial Specialists
IMDb: Removal Process (2019)
Facebook: Last Frame
Instagram: Last Frame

 

Wanderboy

Directed by Thomas Bernos

“At death’s door and ready for his final voyage, old Ben is visited by Paco, the imaginary friend he grew out of long ago. Ben cannot see nor hear him anymore, but the boy won’t give up and will follow his old buddy till the end of the road—to mysterious islands or fantastic worlds?—where it leads matters not.”

This was an EXTREMELY image-based in its storytelling, making it feel as if I was watching an Igmar Bergman film. The imagery was fascinating, but the story could not be understood just from watching the short, making it necessary to read the synopsis in order to make some sense of the unusual images. Again, fascinating imagery, but for anyone who hasn’t read the synopsis, the question asked is “What does it mean?”

Links:IMDb: Wanderboy (2019)
Facebook: Wanderboy

 

Capitán Kinesis

Directed by Carlos Jofre

“Sebastián is a retired superhero who lives alone in a small flat. He leads a quiet life and it’s ages since he last used his superpowers, but an unexpected visit puts his world at risk and he will be forced to defend it.”

This is a story about a retired Mexican superhero. Sadly it’s all in his imagination. This was a rather depressing movie.

Links:
IMDb: Capitán Kinesis (2019)

 

Draw Your Gun

Directed by Wouter Jansen

“Enter the bleakest place in the ugly sad and forgotten sewers of the old west. A ghost-town where the scent of anything good seems to be long gone. When local artist Luc le Blanc draws the portrait of his enemy on a wanted poster, a chain reaction of killings and fraudulence is started.”

Every once in awhile a movie comes along that just escapes me. Despite the fact that it has an understandable premise, by the time the credits ran on this one I just shook my head because I had no true idea as to what I had just watched.

Links:
IMDb: Draw Your Gun

 

I Can

Directed by Diana Elizabeth Jordan

I Can follows Ellie our heroine as she is emotionally bombarded by friends, family and her mentor to see if she is strong enough to face an unstoppable foe, herself.”

On the surface looks like a story about a “normal” girl who doesn’t hang with her special needs friends. But she isn’t normal. She’s handicapped and powerful.

Links:
IMDb: I Can (2019)

 

Feature
The Tangle

Directed by Christopher Soren Kelly

“In the near future, the Tangle connects the world. A secret government agency watches over the Tangle from within technology safe rooms, locations impermeable to the nanobots that make up the Tangle. When field agent Margot Foster is murdered in one of these rooms, it’s the first murder in California in three years.”

Sci-fi detective film noir. Violent criminals are given something called Tangle that creates overrides to prevent violence, in addition to other things. Tangle used quantum entanglement to change the world. So how does a man beats his override and allegedly kill someone? Some world building takes that can be a bit confusing. The sci-fi is all referential. The movie is more of a minimalistic mystery. The plot is extremely dense that makes the first time watching difficult. It’s a movie that would benefit from multiple viewings.

Links: THE TANGLE – Coming Soon
IMDb: The Tangle (2019)
Facebook: The Tangle
Instagram: The Tangle
Twitter: The Tangle

 

Horror Shorts A
The Greeting

Directed by Michael Ricci

“Something terrifying has happened in a remote midwestern town. Two mysterious scientists search for answers.”

Very Robert Wise in style and idea. Returning satellite kills people, much like Andromeda Strain. Nice twist at the end, even if it was somewhat predictable.

Links:
IMDb: The Greeting (2019)
Facebook: The Greeting
Vimeo (Trailer): The Greeting Teaser Trailer

 

Drops

Directed by Sergio Morcillo

“Marta is a teenager whose parents died two years ago. One night, while alone at home, she will discover the truth about the pain that is tormenting her.”

A dancer has severe abdominal pains. Classic Spanish horror in not revealing any specifics, but excellent at creating unease. Rather demonic. Some spiritual overtones. A symbolic film for the demons in one’s family.

Links:
IMDb: Gotas (2017)
Facebook: GOTAS

 

Atomic Ed

Directed by Nicolas Hugon

“Ed, an introverted and passionate DIY man, is, despite himself, the favorite victim of Mark, the neighborhood motorcycle gang leader. His only friend, Gus, tries in vain to push him to rebel and conquer the heart of the beautiful Julia. The day when the body of one of the members of Mark’s band is found horribly mutilated, the events rush, the gang lash out on Ed. Ed has no choice but to take responsibility and an improvised weapon to become the one he has always dreamed of being.”

This was a rather confusing film. Is it about a new disease, or is it about bullying? Or is it about zombie type monsters? Plenty of action and horror type gore, but terribly unfocused, as if it doesn’t know what it wants to be.

Links:
IMDb: Atomic Ed (2018)
Facebook: Atomic Ed
Vimeo (Trailer): Atomic Ed trailer English

 

Stalag III-C

Directed by Jason Rogan

“In the final days of World War II, US paratrooper Joe Boyd leads a daring escape from a Nazi POW camp, only to face a more horrifying evil beyond the prison walls.”

Prisoner escape from a POW camp, but “what” are the prisoners? What kind of POW camp was it precisely? World War II was such a fodder for supernatural monsters. The monsters are simply there without explanation. Demons??? Horror shorts do have that air of irrationality to them, but there is such a thing as going too far.

Links:
IMDb: Stalag III-C
Facebook: Stalag III-C
Vimeo (Trailer): STALAG III-C Official Trailer

 

Virus

Directed by Gabriel Kaluszynski

“In a pre-apocalyptic world where the Earth is dying, Stéphane, recently returned to his hometown, has only one idea in mind: find his daughter in the north. And for that, he does human trafficking with his childhood friend Driss. The latter, knowing that Stéphane needs money to cross, offers him a last move to recover a large sum of money. Sell a mysterious mute girl to a dangerous man.”

Another dystopian horror about how far humanity has fallen. That is horror enough. Human trafficking appears to be the hot market in this world. Total lack of steady cam. The horror is just the nature of the world now. However, there is a nice surprise at the end that helps explain the title.

Links:
Facebook: Virus
Vimeo (Trailer): Trailer : Court-métrage VIRUS

 

The Host

Directed by Pawel Son Ngo

“Two women who conduct meteorite research rent a room at a single man’s house in a secluded location. Day by day their interaction and behaviours become stranger. Is it the influence of the secret finding or a sign of some hidden motives? Within a few days, their lives will change completely.”

Is this another dystopian/germ warfare type of movie? Or is it about a world where people become hosts for an insect type of life? Not much of a horror except to see more of the collapse of modern civilization.

Links: “Gospodarz” | FILM BUSTERS
IMDb: The Host
Facebook: Film Busters

 

Feature
Artik

Directed by Tom Botchii

“A comic book obsessed serial killer’s sinister plan to train his son to be his replacement is interrupted when the young boy lures a well-meaning stranger, Holton, back to their secluded farm threatening to expose their families terrifying secret.”

The opening reminds me of Motel Hell. The opening credits are absolutely outstanding and scream of big studio instead of independent production, which is encouraging to see that indie can create something like this. This is a very violent movie. I’m not quite sure what the horror truly is despite the killing, and the reason is never explained. The family does have children as slaves. One of the characters, a counselor, is an absolute idiot by taking pictures of violent acts and going to the guardians in the belief that they are the ones behind the violence. That pretty much makes him an idiot. He should not be showing violent pictures to a family that he may suspect of being abusive. The suspense is excellent, even with a weak premise. Unfortunately, the movie crossed a line by the on-screen killing of a child. Showing that on the screen automatically gave this movie a fail.

Links: Artik | Epic Pictures
IMDb: Artik (2019)
Facebook: ARTIK
YouTube (Trailer): ARTIK Official Trailer (2019) Horror Movie

 

Other Shorts B
2001: A Space OdysSEX

Directed by Hikaru Tsukuda

“A fossil of tissue paper is discovered in Africa. A professor says that a male ape used the tissue for masturbation. His assistant raises an objection. They get in a fight. Finally, the truth becomes clear.”

There are no words to describe how horribly inappropriate this film is, dealing with the origin of mankind in terms of primate sex and defecation. It was raunchy. I loved it!

Links:
IMDb: 2001: a space odysSEX (2018)

 

Competitive Mourning

Directed by Kevin Beauchamp & Mando Lopez

“A man stalks his prey on the streets of Los Angeles, but on this occasion picks the wrong person to mess with.”

A music video about serial killing? Why yes, thank you very much! Very well produced and good story within the confines of the music video.

Links: MANDO+KEVIN
Instagram: MANDO+KEVIN
Twitter: MANDO+KEVIN

 

Yes But No

Directed by María Dioni

“Josefina is fed up. Guilty or not, Juan will pay.”

Surprising LGBTQ horror short. There is more to this woman than meets the eye. Rather short, but with a good twist at the end.

Links:
IMDb: Si pero no (2019)

 

Actuary

Directed by MK Hill

“An android that can predict people’s date of death is suspected of murder.”

A satirical look at artificial intelligence that can predict death. How would we react if we knew the precise date we were going to die? What moral implications are there by having a system that can do that? Excellent sci-fi / horror short film.

Links:
Twitter: Matt Hill

 

Conspiracy Party

Directed by H. Nelson Tracey

“A guy invites a girl he’s recently started dating to his friend Ozzy’s apartment for a party. Unbeknownst to him, it’s a “Conspiracy Party”.”

What is a party filled with conspiracy theorists like? A very amusing statement against the insanity of people who live with these theories… But what if it were all real??? Kool-aid anyone?

Links:
IMDb: Conspiracy Party (2019)

 

Five Course Meal

Directed by James Cadden

“Mark and Jenny agree to take part in a mysterious experiment for money. Things get exceptionally messy. Based on the short story by Josh Saltzman.”

Horror about food addiction taken to a ridiculous extreme? The premise is disgusting and with a shaky punch line.

Links: Production Company | AB | Cadden & Bell Productions
IMDb: Five Course Meal (2018)
Facebook: Cadden & Bell Productions
Instagram: Cadden & Bell Productions
YouTube (Trailer): Five Course Meal | Short Horror Film Trailer

 

Pipe

Directed by Max Isaacson

“When Pup, a young girl living on the fringe of a bombed out town, finds a dead body washed up on the beach she brings it home to give it a proper burial. But other people have plans for the body and Pup’s refusal to give it up brings hell down upon she and her father’s heads.”

Well produced short teaches that you can still make good or bad choices. It’s still horribly dark and filled with a sense of despair for the human race.

Links: Pipe
IMDb: Pipe (2018)
Facebook: Pipe Movie
Twitter: Pipe

 

Stigma

Directed by David Velduque

“It’s friday night, the bell rings and Alex opens the door to the worst of his fears.”

Somewhat steamy gay short, only these two young men aren’t alone. This is a very creepy movie with nasty critters. The critters themselves are a bit ridiculous, but it still works in regards to the creep factor. This is the kind of short film that is highly disturbing and will give you nightmares, especially if you have a phobia about bugs, which only served as a metaphor for something far more serious.

Links:

IMDb: Estigma
Vimeo (Trailer): Trailer Estigma | A short film by David Velduque

 

Escape from North Korea

Directed by Keith Eng

“In a distant 1980’s future, America’s last ninja must rescue the president’s daughter from the supreme leader of neo North Korea.

A combination of G.I. Joe and Delta Force, but done with an 80’s flair, including the electronic soundtrack (by Pylot). Visual effects, edits, and even camera shots, are reminiscent of the 80’s films that were so beloved by fans of trashy 80s movies. This is a deliberately made piece of garbage. Parts of it scream John Carpenter while others resemble Wachowskis. Plot also takes a page out of Games Of Death with the different levels of the hotel. Officially this is the greatest movie I’ve seen in a long time!

Links: Escape from North Korea
IMDb: Escape from North Korea (2019)
Facebook: Escape from North Korea
Instagram: Escape From North Korea

 

SUNDAY 10/13

Feature
Under ConTroll

Directed by Eric Hordes

“Through the excavation of an old statue, a troll that had been banished into it is accidentally brought back to life. Set free, it possesses the body of a luscious blonde as a disguise. His plan is to open a portal to another dimension in order to unleash hideous creatures upon the Earth.”

Deliberately over the top fantasy. Not sure if the dubbing makes it worse or better, but the movie is absolutely outrageous. Nice camera work, bright cinematography. This is one of the silliest fantasy/horror/comedies ever. Hearing the dubbing, along with the mouth movements make it very distracting. Sometimes the lip movement is in English, other times it isn’t. It’s very weird. This would work better as a short film, but as a feature, it becomes somewhat mind-numbingly painful.

Links: Under ConTROLL – official move homepage! Oh my goooowd!
IMDb: Dinosaurs In A Mining Facility (2018)
Facebook: UnderconTroll
Instagram: UnderconTroll
YouTube (Trailer): Dinosaurs in a Mining Facility – Official Trailer #1 [HD]

 

HORROR SHORTS B
Deliria

“A slow, hot summer afternoon. A father sleeps while his child is drawing with pencils in a crossword puzzle. A wind moves through the grass—something bad is about to happen.”

Unusual tale where time loops back in on itself for the father of a young boy. This was a rather bizarre, but very strong, short film.

Links:
IMDb: Deliria (2018)
Vimeo (Trailer): Deliria Teaser

 

Swipe

Directed by Niels Bourgonje

“A girl finds out that she has a match on a dating app with a stranger, despite swiping him to the left moments ago. She starts to fear that the man is dangerously close to her.”

This is more than just a horror about social media date apps. Short films about voyeuristic and stalker-ish photography are always extremely unsettling, especially if the source of those photos can’t be found. Works very well as a short horror film. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Swipe for the win!

Links: SWIPE — Niels Bourgonje
IMDb: Swipe (2019)
Facebook: Swipe
Instagram: Swipe

 

Séance

Directed by Johannes Franke

“Mentalist Erik Svenson and his medium Eva Brandt specialize in classic ghost summons for private and social occasions. Although Eva seems to have been exhausted for weeks now, Erik drages her from one séance to the next, since their performances have turned out to be a lucrative business. On this evening their job leads them to Jochen Buchholz, who has inherited the house of his grandmother and wants to surprise some of his friends with a true ghost summon. They are skeptical, expect a harmless trick show off and a fun evening. Given the unsettling energies in the house, Eva is increasingly insecure about whether the séance at this strange place is a good idea.”

This is a “slow burn” in terms of the horror, but the seeds are planted relatively early helping to build the tension. Nice production values and setting. The excellent visuals serve to heighten the tension. This was a very creepy short film. This could have been a very good segment from Night Gallery.

Links: SEANCE
Facebook: Séance

 

The Summoned

Directed by Matthias couquet

“Paris, 1920. Four veterans of the Great War painfully try to recover from this dreadful experience. But for them, the horror is only beginning. For in the midst of their dreams, a dark and sinister entity has arisen…”

Extremely French in its narrative. Quite artistic, but to the point where it somewhat obscures the story. Interesting use of flashback inserted in a flashback. A man has a vision of something terrifying after dreaming of a mysterious woman. He shares his nightmare to his friend, who is now disturbed by an unfortunate turn of events, who then shares it with his brother. Another good entry for Night Gallery with the subject being a woman painted with scary detail in a portrait, her face in a mirror.

Links: Les Appelés
Facebook: Court-métrage – Les Appelés

 

The Knowledge

Directed by Alexander Osman

“It’s a dark night in London 1991 and there’s a serial killer on the loose. Two men go about their business oblivious to the dangers at large when fate brings them together in a black taxi. This seemingly random encounter sparks an escalating feud that leads to a brutal and devastating finale as our loyalties plunge first one way and then the other.”

An English cabbie picks up a fare who may very well be the new Ripper. Minimalist productions allows for the focusing on the two chief characters. This was a strong tense thriller about serial killers that was also good in its misdirection.

Links:

IMDb: The Knowledge (2019)
Facebook: AlexanderOsman
Instagram: @alexanderosman
Vimeo (Trailer): The Knowledge – Teaser

 

The Rejected

Directed by Onur Doğan

“A woman who lives alone at home wants to get rid of her unborn baby by applying an abortion. But that won’t be as easy as she thinks.”

This short film had scenes with very disturbing imagery of self-harm. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch. Not much more can be said without giving it away, except think of pre-natal Chuckie. Quite horrifying in so many different ways.

Links:
Facebook: The Rejected Film
Instagram: The Rejected Short Horror Film

 

Feature
Grand View Blvd

Directed by Spencer McCall

“An ex cult-guru attempts to make amends for his past transgressions by hiring a failed workplace-conduct videographer to tell his highly subjective life story.”

This is a very meta type film about someone who is hired to make a documentary. Even the “real life” content in the film feels very much like a documentary, add to the fact that there are some unusual camera angles and lenses. It has an almost vague self-referential type of feel. It’s a very weird movie that is strangely compelling. It also feels like a “found footage” type of movie, which has very acoustical audio. The subject matter of the movie’s documentary is also a very mysterious character with a very colorful life, adding to the odd vibe created by this move in general. The movie’s documentary would almost make for a good movie itself. The odd narrative makes the movie difficult to understand in terms of what is actually going on, and yet the movie is compelling. It’s almost as if the movie itself were an exercise in enlightenment. Is the filmmaker being tapped to be filmed? What is real? It feels like a psychedelic head trip. We do learn later during the Q & A with the star that this was an experiment with three independently made movies that are crammed together in the hopes that a coherent narrative might emerge.

No Links Available

 

Sci-Fi Shorts B
Genesys One

Directed by Cesar Turturro

“In 1974, a scientist, who was hired to design one of the most powerful and destructive war machines in history, has the task of sending a message to space trying to describe humanity as a peaceful race that only seeks to answer that question. Are we alone in the universe?”

Nice camera work Transformers!!!!! Good visual effects. The quick editing made it difficult to understand the entirety of the story. Asks within the narrative of the short if we are alone in the universe, and what the consequences might be should find out and not be able to handle it.

Links:
Vimeo (Trailer): TEASER GENESYS ONE. SHORT FILM

 

Bear with Me

Directed by Carlos Cortes

“A rusty, nursing robot must decide between dragging his former patient, who is dressed as a bear, back to the hospital, or let him catch a glimpse of the horizon in the wilderness.”

From a conceptual standpoint this is an interesting premise. It’s a tiny bit humorous. The production values are on the thrifty side. Moral of the story could be about quality of life and when is it gone. Beautiful tale about how far the robotic caretaker will go for the sake of its patient. It was rather refreshing to see a short film where the robot does not go berserk, and instead is committed to the care and wellbeing of his patient.

Links:
IMDb: Bear with Me (2018)

 

Mens Sana

Directed by Ludovica Musumeci

“A scientist, Joyce, searches for a cure against ‘Statera’—an android parasite able to control human consciousness. However, an unexpected revelation forces Joyce to question everything she knows about herself and the world she lives in.”

Unusual sci-fi about parasitically infected water. It was a bit surreal. Not quite sure what was real and what wasn’t.

Links: Home | Mens Sana Movie
IMDb: Mens Sana (2018)
Twitter: Mens Sana Movie
Instagram: MensSanaMovie
YouTube (Trailer): MENS SANA OFFICIAL TRAILER

 

Better Strangers

Directed by Riley Dayne

“Ethan and Sam meet at a bar after using new dating app, their night is unforgettable, one for the ages. But is this first date really what it seems?”

Very short film about how we can hide behind our profiles in dating apps. I loved this short for its message.

Links:
IMDb: Better Strangers (2019)

 

Iris

Directed by Paige Miltenberger

“A sci-fi drama following a woman’s experience after a personal tragedy as she struggles to keep herself together by throwing herself into creating the first fully sentient artificial intelligence, regardless of the toll it takes.”

Story about programs with artificial personalities. As creator tries to make IRIS a successful program. Interesting telltale signs throughout the short as IRIS achieves her 100% personality. Suspected twist paid off. The twist itself has almost become a trope, but it was still well executed here.

Links:
IMDb: Iris (2018)

 

In Her Image

Directed by Nikoloz Kevkhishvili

“A desperate mother descends deeper into the labyrinth of virtual reality, willing to sacrifice everything to rescue her son from a familiar kidnapper.”

This was a highly intellectual short film that resembles a sort of a Georgian The Matrix in a number of ways. It also asks a question that will no doubt have both scientists and philosophers asking for years to come, and that is “what is life?” Can AI be considered life? What is Virtual Reality to AI? Excellent and thought provoking.

Links: .[Editor: Yes, “.” is indeed the name of the website]
IMDb: In Her Image (2018)
Facebook: In Her Image
Twitter: InHerImageFilm
Instagram: In Her Image Film
Vimeo (Trailer): In Her Image – Trailer

 

Hot Knife Cold Butter

Directed by Zaina Salameh

“A young man infatuated with the vintage phenomenon of romance is caught in an area of clinical matchmaking and engineered laws of genetic love compatibility.”

Is this the future of coupling and the building of family units? Will hi-tech matchmaking become the acceptable way, or will this young man’s belief in romance actually succeed and overthrow the cold touch of technology? This short film had some fantastic production values, but I could not help but compare it to the first episode of Jordan Peele’s Weird City.

Links:
IMDb: Hot Knife Cold Butter (2017)
Facebook: Hot Knife Cold Butter

 

Feature

My Demons Never Swore Solitude

Directed by Jorge Leyva

Brutish husband, named Silent with his new wife? They have been in this part of Mexico for roughly four years and they are apparently prospecting for gold. The problem is they don’t believe they are alone, and the wife believes there to be demons in the mountains. They also have received some curious guests with business that is somewhat undetermined. What is certain is that Silent is not pleased with their presence. Things go badly when Silent meets a stranger, (who has some connection with Silent ’s wife Deina) who tricks him into becoming his prisoner, and he says he knows about the demons. This feels more like a Mexican art film. There are some nice camera angles and wonderful vistas, but the story moves very slowly. There clearly is some other worldly aspect to the movie, but the story development is weak. There are movies that are “slow burn,” but this one barely gets beyond glowing embers. I appreciate being able to see it only for reasons of cultural diversity, but this was not a movie that I need to see again. Not enough substance.

Links: Habanero Film Sales Mis demonios nunca juraron soledad – Habanero Film Sale
IMDb: My Demons Never Swore Solitude (2017)
Facebook: Mis Demonios Nunca Juraron Soledad
Vimeo (Trailer): Misdemoniosnuncajuraronsoledad-teaser

 

Other Shorts C
Who You Are: The Commercial

Directed by Joel Jay Blacker

“The accidental invention of an asshole AI spells trouble for a tech startup in the late 80’s. In The Commercial Daryl and Jonathan, two computer engineers, prepare for the launch of their product, a sentient machine that can read souls, by attempting to film a commercial. The machine proves difficult to work with, forcing them to find a compromise.”

When the computer talks back, especially if it has an attitude. Imagine a very snarky HAL 9000. This short was terribly amusing!

Links:
Facebook: Who You Are
Instagram: Who You Are

 

The Arrow Falls

Directed by Jeremy Garcia

“In a desolate future a mother and daughter try not just to stay alive but keep their relationship intact.”

Mother and daughter are on the move from something. Has humanity died off from some plague or disaster? Has humanity regressed into savagery? Not much of a story. Nicely cinematography.

No Links

 

Beyond Us: A Last Story After the Collapse

Directed by Maxime Tiberghien

“What will we leave behind after the collapse? We think that if we disappear the earth will be safe again… It is not true. Beyond Us is a journey through our masterpiece of Desolation..”

Excellent computer animation about a giant robot keeping hope alive after humanity has destroyed itself. What type of legacy will we leave the world after we are all gone as a species?

Links:
IMDb: Beyond us – A Last Story after the Collapse (2019)
Facebook: Beyond us – A Last Story after the Collapse – Short film
Twitter: Beyond-us Short Film
Instagram: Maxime Tiberghien

 

Troll Bridge

Directed by Daniel Knight

“An old barbarian and his talking horse embark on a suicidal quest to battle a bridge troll. Troll Bridge is a live-action/hand animated hybrid, lovingly crafted from the Discworld fairy-tale by Sir Terry Pratchett.”

Fantasy between an old man and his talking horse. Fantastic visuals that look as if they came out of a Peter Jackson film… Well except for the stop-motion. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t hold up with the rest of the visual quality. Very amusing short about an old warrior on a mission to deal with a bridge troll… Only it doesn’t go as planned. It could be a demented take from Middle-Earth. It helps that this is based on a story by Terry Pratchett.

Links: TROLL BRIDGE | The Moving Picture
IMDb: Troll Bridge (2019)
Facebook: Snowgum Films
Twitter: Snowgum Films
Instagram: Snowgum Films

 

No Easy Target

Directed by Orion James Couling

“The First Order continues to rule the galaxy with an iron will. The Resistance, broken and splintered, holds on to the last pieces of hope. Yet on a far off moon of the galaxy, hope lives among the people in a small colony. This small colony escaped from the strict rules and ways of being to create a new home that welcomes all people of all abilities. They are resilient, they are strong, and they are No Easy Target.

No Easy Target is a Star Wars Fan Film featuring actors with Down Syndrome alongside their peers. The diversity in the film reveals a galaxy rejected society. Let your expectations be blown away as the Jedi show the universe how capable they really are by being resilient, strong, and fighting to bridge the social gap. In this revolution of inclusion, you too can witness the first time a Star Wars fan film features main action characters with actors who have Down Syndrome.”

This was the most amazing take on Star Wars. Having this cast of people who are generally among the disenfranchised was such a beautiful touch. The moral almost feels like something one might watch in an episode of Star Trek. It has a beautiful message about how strong people with disabilities truly are.

Links: EDGE of Orion
Facebook: EDGE of Orion
Instagram: EDGE Theatre
YouTube (Trailer): No EasyTarget Teaser Trailer

 

Cold Storage

Directed by Thomas Freundlich

Cold Storage is a short dance film that pays homage to the virtuosic physical performances and melancholy comedy of the classic silent screen. On a desolate arctic shore, a lonely fisherman discovers his prehistoric counterpart frozen in the ice, and thaws him out as his newfound soul brother.”

In some frozen wasteland, a traveler finds someone frozen in the ice and snow. What wakes him up? The sound of a cold beer can being opened. Let the celebratory dancing commence! This is a highly unusual, but rather silly short film.

Links:
Vimeo (Trailer): Cold Storage :: Trailer

 

The Widow

Directed by Brendan Young

“Set in Melbourne, Australia in 1965, a Sicilian widow fights for her life when members of the local Calabrian mafia murder her husband and try to seize control of his produce business.”

This is an Australian short film that might as well be a Sicilian production. A middle-aged widow comes to Australia to get married, all the while having an affair with a married man. It has all of the trappings of a Sicilian melodrama. Effectively filmed in black and white. There is a very strong 60s vibe. Other than that this was almost a standard foreign love affair thriller.

Links:
IMDb: The Widow (2018)
Facebook: Brendan Young
Twitter: Brendan Young
Instagram: Brendan Young

 

AWARDS CEREMONY

 

Best Horror Short Winner: Competitive Mourning

Best Sci-Fi Short Winner: Deliver

Best Other Short Winner: Wanderboy

Best Feature: Grand View Blvd.

Festival’s Director Award: Pinki

My overall impression? This film festival was amazing! While there were films that I did not care for and simply have no desire to ever see again, I still appreciate the fact that the opportunity was there for me to see them for myself. Then there were the films that blew me away with their quality. It merely reinforces my belief that there is more talent in the independent creator community than we have ever imagined. The quality of some of these films was so amazing that it’s a wonder why these filmmakers have not made it into “the big times.” In any event, it’s festivals like this one that help give these films the exposure they desperately need. So, to Hal Astell I simply say, THANK YOU!!!


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