Sunday is a shorter day because things wrap up early to allow for the awards ceremony.
Note 1: I'll eventually review all the films that played as part of the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival part of the event (and some PFF films too) in detail over at my main review site, Apocalypse Later, but that sure ain't gonna be this week!
Note 2: I have indexes up at Apocalypse Later that detail every film, whether feature or short, that's playing this event. Here's the Phoenix Film Festival index and here's the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival index.
Block 15: Displacement (2016)
Courtney Hope is excellent as Cassie, believable as a science nerd fluent in technobabble and a judgemental bitch who makes snap judgements that aren't always the right ones. Even when I didn't like the character, I liked what she was doing and Hope carries the film well. She's backed up by few major names, Sarah Douglas and Bruce Davison amongst them, who both do good work, but it's her film.
Time travel movies are all about paradoxes and the more complex ones warrant at least a second viewing to properly evaluate whether they actually make sense or not. It's easy to see the goofs in most films, but it's a lot harder in pictures as complex as this. I grasped most of it and appreciated how the various scenes featuring multiple versions of the same character added clarity without seeming forced. I still have questions though and look forward to that second viewing.
Block 16: Horror Shorts B
Like the A set, Horror Shorts B (2015) contains a varied bunch of films, from mundane filler up to the best picture I've seen at the entire event.
Miriam (2015) is a beautifully shot Italian short that uses great composition of frame to show off the local cityscapes. Within them, a man robs a convenience store at gunpoint only to find, as he reaches his escape car, that a young lady needs his help. The bad guy becomes a good guy but, of course, things aren't as straightforward as that might suggest. It's a succinct piece, capably set up and capably brought home, but it's not as original as it would like.
Bad Blood (2015) is a slow and atmospheric short with a very European flavour, an evocative score and some nice cinematography. A serial killer tracks a new victim, only to discover that she's more than she seems. I expected a further twist which never came, but it's capable enough with the main one.
|Ray Schillaci talking to composer Chris Wirsig (20 Matches), writer/director Aleksandra Lagkueva (Bad Blood) and director/co-writer Matt Cooper (Flush)|
|photo: Countess Chaos Creations|
Block 17: The History of Time Travel (2014)
It's ostensibly a TV documentary made for History Television about Edward Page and his son, Richard, who pioneered time travel. Everything expected is here, from the variety of interview subjects to the collation of aged video and distressed photos, live interviews and dramatic reconstructions, insight and light humour. All are exhibited with panache.
What really sells this film though is the way things change. As if someone was changing history while we're watching, little details shift in the background and what we're told gradually morphs into something else too. If I could buy the internal logic, I'd love it all. Unfortunately I can't.
Block 18: The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)
To suggest that this is slow is an understatement. We're introduced to three girls whose activities eventually coalesce into a single story, but we do wonder for a long time what that might be. Two are students at what appears to be a Catholic boarding school and they're stuck there during a week's break because their respective parents haven't come to pick them up. The third is a damaged creature who has apparently escaped from some sort of institution and gets a lift from a good samaritan and his wife.
In most respects this is spot on, if you can cope with the lack of pace. The one real negative is the apparently uncontrolled way in which the stories are spun together. We're set up to follow one, only to suddenly be thrown at another with no suggestion of a connection. That sort of thing continues and could have been addressed by better flowing editing.
The trio of young actors do their jobs well, especially Kiernan Shipka as Kat, and they shine even above the established couple of James Remar and Lauren Holly. I like the story's direction, if not its choppy and cryptic back and forth nature. The central point of the film is an intriguing one too, which feels very original.
This film highlights how Monte Yazzie is definitely making his mark on the IHSFFF with yet another film in an increasingly diverse set of showcase feature. I've seen five of the ten thus far and am really looking forward to the remaining half during the week.
Copper Wing Awards
Sunday night is awards night and many were given to filmmakers present and absent. Here's a complete list of what won (in order), so you can figure out what might show up in the Award Winner and Festival Choice slots during the week.
Best Arizona Short - Dino Park
Best Student Short - The Bench
Best Live Action Short - A King's Betrayal
Best Documentary Short - Keep It Grand
Best Animated Short - Burnt
Best Sci-Fi Short - Helio
Best Sci-Fi Feature - Parallel
Best Horror Short - Night of the Slasher
Best Horror Feature - Night of Something Strange
Arizona Filmmaker of the Year - Colleen Hartnett
Volunteer of the Year - Aaron Kes
|photo: Countess Chaos Creations|
Best World Cinema Short - Violet
Best World Cinema Director - Cody Campanale for Jackie Boy
Best World Cinema Picture - Home Care
Sydney J Shapiro Humanitarian Award - Rwanda and Juliet
Best Arizona Feature - Carry On: Finding Hope in the Canyon
Best Ensemble - Welcome to Happiness
Best Screenplay - James Steven Sadwith for Coming Through the Rye
Special Jury Prize for Acting - Stephen Lang for Beyond Glory
Best Director - Logan Kibens for Operator
Best Documentary Feature - Rwanda and Juliet
Best Picture - Coming Through the Rye
Audience Favourite - No Greater Love