Thursday, September 20, 2007


Loris Lai, USA

Plot Synopsis: Afraid of losing his family, a man has no choice but to repay his debt to an old friend by participating in an unthinkable task.

Though filmed from a point of view that wanted to us to fight for this man to make the right choice, I had trouble connecting with him. This may have been due to excessive length of the piece, or a plot that seemed a bit familiar.

The “O” Word
Alan Lock, Australia

Plot Synopsis: The mother-of-the-bride locks her daughter in the living room to prevent her from making the biggest mistake of her life.

Two more “O” words (the frightful one we shudder to avoid in this film is OBEY!!!) are Objective and Obstacle…and this is a film that is rampant with those…I did want to see a bit more action from both characters, but perhaps that was the point. Tactics, my goodness yes, but physical action…I wanted to see that veil and some taffeta fly!

If only my Mother had tried to lock me in a room and I had been faced with a question: “Do I really want to fight to marry this man?” Or am I just doing something that polite society expects of me at this age? Or as our fabulous mother phrases it, “You’re doing this so that someone will find you when you’re dead!”

It is true. Men were not put on earth to make women happy. As Gloria Steinem said once, and Bono again, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Don’t do it unless it’s worth a big, badass fight!

Trigger Effect
Tim Gordon, USA

Plot Synopsis: Follow a government official who is conflicted about how best to protect his people, and a young boy who finds himself caught up in the random violence that plagues the city.

Trigger Effect deals with the intricacies of both national issues of gun violence and local issues of gun legislation here in Metro DC. It begins with the chilling words, “the first time you see someone get shot you lose something you never get back.”

We as the audience are flooded with images of peaceful family neighborhoods juxtaposed with flashes of violence, and reminded that everyone who has a gun thinks they have a good reason.

This film serves a higher purpose. I am fond of thinking that there is nothing like live theatre or a well done film to articulate exactly how one feels on an important topic.

An audience member during the Q & A put it quite well by volunteering her observation, “This is exactly how VA Tech happened.”

Remember, you may not leave the theatre the same way you came in.

Ben Crosbie and Tessa Moran, USA

Plot Synopsis: A day in the life of a Washington DC barbershop.

This wise, insightful film is a glimpse into the lives of 3 local barbers from Edge’s Barbershop in Metro DC. On the surface, it shows us how they connect with one another and their clients.

As we hear more and more from them, we see what a social hub this is, and how amazing these men are. At least one achieved his barber’s license in the penitentiary, as a means of legal income to start a new life. The act of barbering literally translates into a tangible power to not give up on someone just because his life started out with a mistake.

I am reminded of similar themes in Hank Rogerson’s phenomenal Shakespeare behind Bars from 2005, which also explores what truly unexpected directions life can take.

What is visually so interesting is the variety of camera angles, probably due to the collaborative direction. What is so moving from these men is that they focus on what they get out of the barbering, and we clearly see how much it brings to others.

Fast Love
Josh Flowers, USA

Plot Synopsis: Go past the mechanical facades of the fast food industry and discover what drives its workers.

Often when one cuts to the chase and thinks quickly, one is able to get some very honest answers. Josh Flowers does just this with Fast Love. It is amazing what people (can you imagine, there are actually, real live, feeling human beings behind those speakers we shout our orders at?) will tell an anonymous voice through a speaker without given too much time to over-think the issue when asked the question, “what do you love?”

Among the answers were:
Myself and my Family
President Bush…(Mom, have you started moonlighting at Taco Bell???)
My boyfriend
My husband
Puppies …and the very eloquent…..
Pearl Jam

Now, give yourself 10 seconds, and no more. What would your answer be?

Flowers was delightful in the post show Q & A. He said that his budget would have been a lot higher if not for the dollar menu.

On a more serious note, he had a very wise piece of advice for future filmmakers. “Make something you like; no one will watch it as much as you do.”

Girls Room
Maria Gigante, USA

Plot Synopsis: A young girl’s horrific trip to the school bathroom results in an unexpected friendship.

Audience Favorite, Show #5Girls Room; Maria Gigante (USA)

Girls Room was a film with a lot of depth that managed to be very funny without stooping to potty humor! Amazing!!

It took us through so many highs and lows, utilizing so many fantastic elements blended together, such as waterdrops into a sink becoming heartbeats… and a symphony made of splashing water into two toilets with a flatulent false note! I think a lot of people empathize with bathroom (or washroom if you are Canadian) bashfulness, and particularly if you are a girl, a bit of friendship connection therein.

Dustin Grella, USA

Plot Synopsis: A study of the life of painter Willem de Kooning and a stream of consciousness narrative concerning the impermanence of life.

I could definitely see an influence of Koyaanisqatsi in this visual journey through the life of Willem de Kooning. As our point of view was drawn, blended, and then evolved from one image through to the next, we were never able to let one become too precious, even as stunning as some of them were.

I was reminded of the Tashi Lhunpo Tibetan monks who delicately construct with millions of grains of colored sand a beautiful mandala over a period of three days. After its completion and a ceremony, the monks sweep up the colored sands, symbolizing the impermanence of life — how all things come from nothingness and return to it.

It was just beautiful how Grella’s film could take us through a very similar experience via the art of Western artist de Kooning.

Personal Spectator
Emmanuel Jespers, Belgium

Plot Synopsis: Do you feel like you’re transparent and your life goes along without anyone else taking notice? You need someone to watch you.

One remarkable feature that the live stage and a piece with a well-filmed point of view share is this: Once you put anything into the designated space, the audience reads it as intentional. And our heroine experiences this magic. Everything she does suddenly becomes a site-specific performance…meaningful, intentional, compelling to watch, and open to interpretation to her very own intimate audience of one. We see her life suddenly come alive with meaning….but also question the motives of the man in the singular audience seat….is he doing work about which he is passionate, or is he just a slick salesman, exploiting someone’s loneliness, like so many other modern day brokers of snake oil.

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