by Phil Williamson
The 21st Annual Ohio Independent Film Festival (OIFF) was screened this past weekend at the Atlas Cinemas in Euclid. Filmmakers from near and far showcased their work to local audiences who were eager to get their eyes on cinema produced outside of the studio system. This Top 5 Review focuses on films submitted by filmmakers hailing from various towns across the country, all of which were produced by people working in non-traditional filmmaking hubs.
Small towns can often have a raucous culture among their youth. With little to do, young people living in the middle of nowhere turn to vices to keep their nights interesting. B.F.E. (the title is possibly an acronym for “Bum Fuck, Egypt”) is set in a small town based on director Shawn Telford’s home town of Post Falls, Idaho. The film presents this culture, showing us three intertwining stories about a group of friends tackling personal issues and coming to terms with the stagnant nature of their home town. The players of this dramedy include a teenager trying to lose his virginity, a grandson showing his grandfather how to have a good time, and a young woman struggling to remove her sister and herself from a toxic home life. Lucidly poignant and irreverently funny, B.F.E. will bring either nostalgic memories or haunting recollections to any ex-patriot that has left behind a hometown in the middle of nowhere.
The Dormant Machine
Our culture has long had stories featuring the archetypal figure known as the Sandman, a benevolent being who brings good dreams to people by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes while they sleep. However, director Jonathan Nininger’s version is not so fanciful. Shot in Columbus, The Dormant Machine is about the Sandman performing his duties in a 9-to-5 day job. He goes through the motions, rescuing dreamers from their nightmares, until he meets a vulnerable woman in the course of his duties who captures his heart and invades his thoughts, rendering him ineffective at his “dream job”. Audiences will be charmed by this surreal love story framed within the classic fairytale.
In a time when several business are striving to provide locally grown food for consumers, select entrepreneurs are pioneering unorthodox business models to utilize local resources. Bread Elegant documents the commercial endeavor of Tiffin University professor Dr. Matt Bereza. After conducting research that suggested people benefit considerably by eating quality, locally made food, Bereza attempted to start a bakery selling food made exclusively from local resources. However, after his business model was rejected by financiers, labeling it as “high risk”, Bereza turned to downsizing and the use of found materials to create his business. Bread Elegant will get you thinking about the micro and macro agricultural forces at play and how they impact our economy and our health.
Countless would-be filmmakers have been inspired by the crime dramas of Mr. Martin Scorsese, and the characters of GoodBoys are no exception. However, the only difference is that these three friends aren’t aspiring filmmakers, they’re aspiring criminals. Stuck in the lackadaisical, cannabis laden haze of post-high-school-graduation life, the three main characters decide to pursue criminal careers, modeling their endeavors, and even their personalities, after the plots and characters of the crime dramas they hold dear. However, as their pursuits become more and more extreme, they soon find themselves in over their heads. If you’re an avid fan of crime films, Scorsese or otherwise, then you’ll appreciate the tribute piece that is GoodBoys.
“Formed by ice, filled by ice, often covered by ice”, the Great Lakes are one of our most valuable assets and precious treasures in North America. Conservationist William “Bill” Kleinert’s documentary, PROJECT: ICE, explores the history, ecology, and economy of the Great Lakes “through the prism of ice”. Starting with the natural formation of the lakes by the titanic glacial forces of the ice age, this documentary tells the story of the indigenous people and settlers that have made their livelihood from the lakes. As we move into present day, the film extrapolates on the modern issues that plague one-fifth of the Earth’s fresh water, such as climate change to toxic algae blooms. This elucidating documentary will be beneficial to audiences everywhere as it brings the vital role of the Great Lakes into perspective.
Philip Williamson is a filmmaker living and working in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He has written in the past for Point Park University’s Cinema Stylo. When he’s not critiquing films, Phil can be found screenwriting, working on sets, and extending olive branches to rival cities.