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Indy Film Fest Festival Diary

by on July 21, 2014
 

Indy Film Fest festival diary

The following is a running festival diary created and updated by Film Yap writers as the festival progresses. This diary will be updated as writers attend festival screenings.

Joe: Indy Film Fest Opening Night Film, “I Origins
As I am wont to do on a weekday evening, I was running a little late to make the 7 p.m. screening time. I completely forgot about the IMA’s new $5 parking fee, which hacked me off momentarily until I remembered I was getting into the museum for free. So I paid, and sauntered in, grabbed my pass and slipped the lanyard over my head.

I considered ordering a beer — a Sun King Cream Ale would be a great accompaniment to a film — but held off. I greeted festival director Craig Mince, engaged him in chit-chat for a brief moment and found my friend, The Independent Critic’s Richard Propes, sitting in the “balcony” of The Toby. He was sitting with Greg Sorvig of the Heartland Film Festival, so I took a seat next to them. As I always do, I instantly regretted not sitting in the enormous beanbag chairs in the front of the theater, but, hey, the conversation would be better up top, so I stayed.

We cracked a few jokes and, as is custom, the screening started fashionably late as the festival organizers readied the print, adjusted the sound or whatever alchemy they do to prepare the movie for our consumption. Finally, Craig trudged up to the front of the auditorium, gave his opening remarks, and introduced the film, directed and written by Mike Cahill, whose “Another Earth” wowed the Indy Film Fest a couple of years back. Also, a surprise: Cahill would join us via Skype for a Q&A after the screening.

The movie itself was solid: an offbeat tale of science versus faith, and reincarnation against the backdrop of scientific experiments. It was wacky and weird, and I liked it quite a bit.

The Q&A, on the other hand, was pure mad-scientist stuff. Cahill (who one person remarked bore a striking resemblance to Pauly Shore) was a madcap character, full of twitches and quirks and hand gestures. He shrugged off nothing, including a somewhat probing question from a woman who asked about why he featured a scene at a pivotal moment where a grown man visiting India takes a young Indian street girl into his hotel room alone. He had a solid-enough answer for that question and later told a tremendous story about another pivotal shot that involved a goat and an extra drinking a Diet Coke.

Ben: Friday, “Cavalry”
I kicked off my Indy Film Fest 2014 experience on Friday night at the downtown IMAX. The atmosphere was great and I made some some new friends with a couple of fellow movie buffs prior to the screening of “Calvary.” I’m the introverted type who doesn’t usually interact much with total strangers, but a film festival is a great way to meet good people who share your interests. Calvary was powerful and Brendan Gleeson was outstanding as a Catholic priest whose faith undergoes the ultimate test. After “Calvary” I stayed for “The Ballad of Shovels and Rope,” a documentary about the journey of a husband and wife Americana band from humble beginnings in Charleston, SC to touring nationally and being named Emerging Artists of the Year. The movie is an entertaining, gritty feel-good story with some great music. Director Jace Freeman, a Carmel native, was in attendance and stuck around after for a Q&A session. All in all, it was a great start to my first Indy Film Fest!

The Major from the 2014 Indy Film Fest

Joe: Sunday, “The Major”/”Ice Saints”
“The Major” is a wicked Russian drama about corrupt cops attempting to cover up the death of a boy at the hands of one of their own. I found the movie a bit abrupt, especially when a major character decides not to cooperate in the coverup any longer. Some of that is cultural, though, and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie. Bleak and spare, it was still a winner.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing “Ice Saints” by New York filmmaker Ryan Balas since I heard it was coming to the Indy Film Fest. I met Ryan and his wife, Deirdre Herlihy, when they were in town for the fest a few years back and found them to be really fun people, and a great-looking couple at that. Their film is essentially a home movie of the days leading up to their marriage, and I mean that as a compliment. They ask all the right questions, aren’t arrogant enough to try to answer them and end up painting a gorgeous picture of two young people in love. They are also both naked several different times through the movie, and that’s a little awkward, but it creates an intimacy as well. It’s one of my favorite movies of the festival to date.

I spoke to them briefly before the screening and hung around for a few minutes while they talked to the family and friends who were with them and dropped a few tweets hailing the movie before heading home and writing up my review.

Ben: Sunday, “Trap Street”/”Jingle Bell Rocks”
On Sunday I was at the IMA checking out a pair of flicks at the Toby Theater. First up was “Trap Street,” a Chinese film about a young man who works as a surveyor digitally mapping streets in a city in Southern China. Soon he meets a beautiful mystery woman on a street that does not register on GPS, and gets drawn into a world of intrigue beyond his understanding. It’s a suspenseful and atmospheric mystery movie whose ending can best be described as “Orwellian.” I enjoyed it quite a bit. After that I stayed for “Jingle Bell Rocks,” an wonderfully fun documentary about one man’s obsession with obscure Christmas music, ranging from Motown soul to hippie folk to 80s rap to calypso. Yes, you read that right: calypso Christmas music. The film features songs and appearances by a diverse group that includes Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Reverend Run of Run-D.M.C. and blues legend Clarence Carter. The music was fantastic and the film was well done all around. Mitchell Kevin, the director and subject of the documentary, was on hand after the show for Q&A and even brought Christmas gifts for a few lucky members of the audience. Another great day at Indy Film Fest capped off by a little bit of Christmas on a Sunday in July!

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