Posted on: Thursday, June 20th, 2013
I find it extremely fitting that the more upbeat nature of opening night was accompanied by gorgeous, sunny weather. Last night, with a noticeably more somber, deeply emotional tone, we were treated to an almost cleansing downpour.
Sorry if I’m sounding a little more poetic than normal here, but good cinema, such as we were treated to on night two, has a tendency to do that to me lately. The quality of the films present last night with their gorgeous cinematography, score, acting and subject matter was top notch.
The night opened with the only film tonight that wasn’t a documentary, Better People. This short drama was created by local actor/filmmaker Mark O’Brien, who also stars in the main role. We follow his character after a recent breakup as he drinks his sorrows away alone at a bar, trying to find something he can’t seem to grasp. He meets another woman (played by Mark’s actual wife, Georgina Reilly) who is in a similar situation, but handling it a bit differently. Of course he falls for her, but once they start getting close he begins to push away.
The look and feel of this film is perfect. It gives a very empty feeling at times with the use of it’s dark setting. We’re focused on the main character and the girl he’s infatuated with. The rest of the film is out of focus and dreary. We’re living in his space and it’s very lonely in here. I particularly enjoyed one scene where the main character has the choice to continue the night with the girl he’s met, or to turn around and head home. Behind him it’s dark, empty, and lonely. Behind her it’s brightly lit with her friends beckoning at her in the background. His choice is sadly obvious, and even though he has a change of heart shortly after, the damage is already done.
Luckily for those who couldn’t attend the festival you can view this on Vimeo here. I highly recommend it.
Next we have Pose. This short documentary comes from Eva Madden out of Nova Scotia. Slightly more artistic in subject matter than the rest of the night, it focuses on a man who works as a comic book artist, but also poses as a nude model on the side. It’s an odd but interesting combination. I found the way he looked at being the nude model refreshing. Most would see it as a possibly degrading way to earn a few dollars. However, he looks at it as a meditative experience where he’s the one in control.
Moving on, we have Ink & Paper. Another short doc from Halifax native Ben Proudfoot through his Los Angeles company Breakwater Motion Pictures. I’ll be honest, when I read the summary of this film on the Nickel’s website, I wasn’t exactly brimming with excitement. A documentary about the last letterpress and paper shops in LA? Not the best pitch. But the entertainment here comes from the two men who run these. Their love of what they do is something they don’t shy from and it’s touching to see people still committed to quality hands on work. Even having their power disconnected from nonpayment won’t sour their spirit. It’s sad to see the hard work that these guys put into their jobs get so little reward in the end.
Lucky for you guys this is the second film of the night that can viewed online here.
And last, but certainly not least, we were treated to the incredibly touching local documentary Hard Light. Directed by local filmmaker Justin Simms and based on the novel of the same name written by Newfoundland author, Michael Crummey. Through a series of short stories and interviews with Michael, we learn a little about where he came from and his family history. An old fashioned group of people living by the old laws of the land that most of us have come in contact with at some point, but seem to be becoming more forgotten as time passes.
We hear Michael’s own personal journey. Leaving the province as a young adult. Living a stripped down life that he felt he needed to move forward in his career. An escape from his past. But Michael and Justin show that knowing your past, embracing it and not just letting the stories slip by, can help you figure out what is actually important in life. It doesn’t need to be the hindrance that many people believe the past to be.
Being from rural NL a lot of his stories sounded eerily familiar and held a weight with me throughout the movie. This one takes the cake for being the first film of the festival to bring a tear to my eye.
After the film we are treated to yet another Q&A with Justin and Michael to close the night. From the amount of questions being asked and response from the crowd I don’t think I’m alone in saying that these are crowd favorites. Fingers crossed that we get treated to more of these in the future.
And once again this is where I call it a day. I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on night three and the very popular horror night. Hopefully you have your tickets already as this one has a tendency to sell out quickly.