INDIEFEST/FAIF -- It's a wrap

The drinks weren't free at the closing night party for FAIF/Indiefest, but they were a good deal: cocktails came in big party-sized cups, and the bartender, though not the fastest in the world, made 'em right, with a 50/50 booze/mixer ratio. All for normal bar prices.

The food was free – chicken empanadas, greasy spring rolls with filling I didn't identify and didn't need to, glazed meatballs, crackers 'n' cheese, and a veggie plate with hummus that had some dangerously concealed hot pepper flakes in it.

With 70 awards to be handed out, it seemed like maybe everyone would get one. Surprisingly, that wasn't the case. Stan Harrington walked off with multiple awards, competing head-to-head with features in many categories with his short EL PERCANSE PERFECTO. It seemed silly to have two different awards for best animated feature, since as far as I'm aware there only were two animated features in the fest, and hey, they both won!

Some choices were bizarre. Rob E. Greenberg's SATURDAY MORNING, which is a straightforward romantic comedy, got “Best Art Film.” Pericles Lewnes' LOOP got “Best Costumes” somehow (does Shannon DeVido's wheelchair count as a costume?). And SPIRIT, a movie in which even an answering machine message isn't properly mixed, got Best Sound Editing.

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But then 11 MINUTES AGO got Best in Fest, and that was truly deserving. So the judges weren't all goofy.

Morgan Freeman was supposed to receive some kind of award – at least, that's what pre-publicity materials said – but nobody really expected him to show, and in fact, he wasn't even mentioned. Ray Gibb mentioned maybe having a private ceremony for him when his schedule opens up, but I won't hold the proverbial breath.

We'll have some photos of the event posted a bit later. Meanwhile, I caught up with a few of the features that I hadn't managed to see before or at the festival.

SATURDAY MORNING has a cute premise – that if you happen to be awake between 6 and 8 a.m. On Saturday morning, the world is a perfect place. Coffee shops let you cut to the front of the line, cops will helpfully escort you to the destination you're speeding towards, and beautiful women will have sex with you immediately – even if you're George Wendt. But awkward officeboy Wes (Joey Piscopo, son of you-know-who) discovers, to his peril, that the effect wears off at 8 on the dot. So when he falls for a pretty jogger named Lisa (Valerie R. Feingold), he's so worried about being blown off later that he arranges to only meet her in person on Saturday mornings, and court her by phone during the rest of the week – maybe if he can get her to really fall in love, it'll last all the time. Good idea, but slightly ham-handed execution, with narration that isn't necessary, and a complication near the end that really isn't one at all. Writer-director Rob E. Greenberg pulls off enough interestingly bizarre touches (like a romantic rival for Wes who only listens to children's songs) that I suspect the excessiveness in pother areas is him doing what he feel like he's supposed to do, cribbing from formulas when he actually wants to cut loose and be weirder. Get crazy next time, Rob – we'll roll with it if it feels true.

Speaking of crazy, there's EPIDEO, a movie in English shot in Paris, that's all about...uh...Gimme a moment. Let's see if I can boil this down to one sentence. A young woman named Eve (Kelly Riviere) has a dream in which a tall, balding man (writer-director Michael DiAntonio) is torn apart and eaten by strippers, but when she wakes up the next day, she's considered a suspect and believes she might have done it, even though she has an alibi, but in the process of trying to figure things out, she learns that she was adopted and her real mother was also a stripper...OR WAS SHE? There's more, including a gynecologist who dresses like Elvis, and a final “shocking truth about her legacy” that's like ANGEL HEART on goofballs. It's like a filmed play, but not in a bad way – the dialogue is heightened, and more expressive than natural conversation, and the scene blocking somewhat stylized, but it stays consistent, and grows on you. DiAntonio has also been canny enough to set a number of scenes in a strip club, primarily so he can show some T&A in a manner that may well lure more viewers than would typically see a Parisian-set movie with a foreign title.

Finally, there's ART OF SUICIDE, a film whose director, Brent Brooks, was the guy I had most fun hanging out with, and who'll be in my old hood of Asheville, NC very shortly. His is a movie about a group of artistic types living together – a painter, a writer, an actor, etc. The painter, incidentally, has an English accent, but a real one, one so region-specific that I doubt any American actor could fake it. Said painter is clearly talented but not getting anywhere, so one day he runs away and leaves behind a suicide note. News of his apparent death makes interest in his work shoot up, and pretty soon the others are organizing a group show in his memory that may finally get them the attention they deserve, even as the emotional toll of their lost friend weighs heavily.

It's a well-acted piece, and the locations feel true – I think art students in particular will appreciate this movie. My only gripe is with the dramatic arc; it feels like there isn't much of a payoff to the key climactic act. Just kinda happens, and then the movie just kinda stops. I want to know more. Sequel, maybe? Nahh.

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