no gloss film festival update

No/Gloss Film Festival 2014 Massive Movie Preview

We’ve given you fine folks plenty of info over the last few weeks regards this year’s No/Gloss Film Festival, but have still left one major, some would say key, part of the festival in our coverage thus far. What if I told you that at this film festival there were… films?

While your mind recovers from having been blown, either by this startling revelation or what you could rightly consider the journalistic neglect in not covering this sooner, we’ve been watching the trailers, read the synopses and compiling a list of the ones that we’re most excited to see. Last year had some real curveballs, with Communion in particular wowing us with how it took an on paper cliched grindhouse cinema concept and gave it gravitas. Which has forced us to reevaluate how we evaluate the most interesting sounding ones.

Starting off with the Official Selection, the festival directors’ personal pick of the best, we have two UK efforts and an Italian. Hideaway (UK) was shot on a shoestring budget with everyone involved in the weeklong shoot working gratis as a result. Shot in the Devonshire countryside, it tells the story of two girls, one of whom has kidnapped the other to pay back some seriously pissed off drug dealers, and their relationship as they lay low waiting for the right time to return. Unless the kidnapper’s conscience gets the better of her. Clocking in at a taut 27 minutes you can expect plenty of slowburning menace and an eruptive climax if the trailer is anything to go by.

The second UK entry, Strings, is concerned with two young couples, one of whom’s romance is blossoming but seemingly doomed by a long-distance return home, and one of whom’s is stagnating. Badly. We follow them over one night as all the tension and promise rises to the surface. A multilingual Anglo-Germanic production directed by the (for us malaising mid-twenties maldroits) painfully young 18 year old director Rob Savage and largely improvised, expect this writing style and Savage’s age to bring the honesty and heartache of its characters’ tender ages out perfectly. They say write about what you know, right? This production has received a lot of support and fanfare from the German film industry, so is definitely not one to miss.

Volti (Italy) is already set to tug at our heartstrings until they snap. Afflicted by Down Syndrome, 10 year old Riccardo has a love for the theatre, aided and abetted by Mr. De Angelis, the man behind the curtain keeping everything running in his small town’s local performance house. With his help, Riccardo gets to see rising local star Mattia practicing for his next big performance under the watchful eye of The Director. But Mattia has a secret he would keep quiet. The production looks lush, the performances moving and the 30-minute flick shot to perfection. Which is why we’re featuring the trailer below.

And that’s just the films No/Gloss’s directors think are the best. There’s a whole heap more of interesting, captivating cinema to choose from too.

moth-man-of-the-houseFrom the UK offerings, Howl holds much promise. The trailer only shows the opening scene and the synopsis gives nothing away at all, but the imagery of the eyepatched child at the fence and the bleached out menace of the opening scene suggests this story of a teacher trying to protect the child from harm will really get under the skin. At the other end of the spectrum, Ackee and Saltfish promises a light-hearted romp as two friends search for food in multicultural mid-gentrification areas of London. Expect plenty of rambling Seinfeldian conversations about nothing with subtle social commentary. These aside, mental health seems to be a topic and issue a lot of national filmmakers are tackling, with Birds Fly South, Revisited and Circa all tackling the subject, through the prism of two brothers and their differing distorted views of reality, a return to a place of childhood trauma and in trying to overcome the problems threatening a new relationship respectively. Similarly, the enigmatic and sparsely promoed MOTH – Man Of The House tells the post-apocalyptic story of one 9 year old’s attempts to survive while caring for his ailing mother. Dealing with the subject of parents who are tragically absent from childhoods while still being very much a part of it, imagine it will tug the heartstrings and scare you silly simultaneously, as long as it can overcome that most dreaded of filmmaking problems – child acting.

From across the Atlantic, the USA is out in force once again, as well as bringing a massive three of the rarer feature length efforts this year. Clocking in at a (for No/Gloss) epic running length of 96 minutes (“But that’s a whole footie match! Plus injury time!” I hear you cry, rightly perturbed), Simple Being is a unique mix of documentary, drama and experiment in living. The actor, and the sincere hero he plays, attempts to go without his hearing, sight or speech for a week each in a bid to see what we can do without and what we really need. Actor and guinea pig Sol Mason throws himself into the role, engaging with the experiment wholeheartedly and seeing what story falls out the other end. Out of all the showings, this is what I’m most looking forward to, its being so innovative yet meaningful at the same time, style and substance, idea and image.

Sprouting Orchids concerns two people linked by a mysterious event three years ago and brought back together. But to what end and by whom? With promises of potentially shady manipulative figures pulling the strings in the background, what will ultimately unfold in this flick is intriguingly an unknown. Mixing together some quiet, intimate moments with intense action sequences, it will be interesting to see if these disparate elements can be brought together as one. And if not, it still looks beautiful.

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Fun fact: none of these people are wearing trousers.

And not to neglect Europe and the rest of the world, Denmark has a more comedic film on display for our viewing pleasure, which will be a nice break from the predominantly heavy themes of this year’s selection. Triangles Of Happiness follows a family hit hard by the financial crisis, having to sell most of their possessions to survive, but still adamant to meet the affluent standards of their nosy neighbours, at least in appearance. An empty house that looks full of material wealth and possession from the outside, their increasingly extreme efforts to keep up appearance are sure to ensue hilarity. The similarly humorous Strong Coffee With Vodka (Germany) concerns another triangle, this time a doormat waiter, his dickhead boss and a soya-insistent customer in a coffee and the absurdities that ensure when the boss refuses her soya milk but has the waiter do his dirty work. While all the baristas in the audience will be siding with the boss, our hearts will go out to the waiter as the comic misunderstandings pile up.

Getting serious again, we have the hard-hitting Polish documentary Vakha i Magomed, detailing the lives of two Chechenyan immigrants, a father and son, over 24 hours. Their history and background is never outright stated, rather being a presence felt in every scene and felt through their close loving relationship, the real focus of this film. Focusing on their present rather than their past, we feel their lives moving forward despite the hardships they face, united as they are together. Also concerned with familial ties, Electric Indigo (Belgium) looks at a unique family set up and the disruption caused by the return of a force from the past. Two heterosexual life partners bonded by a non-carnal marriage raise a daughter born of a surrogate mother together, but when the mother returns the inherent delicate balance is upset, the daughter torn between her love for her present fathers and the desire for a maternal figure in her absent mother. The acting and set up poses a lot of interesting questions, and whether they’re answered or not we have a well put together dramatic film on our hands here.

And finally, a bit of dark whimsy to see us out. The Missing Scarf (Ireland) tells the story of Albert the squirrel and his hunt for the eponymous mislocated item of clothing. The animation is slick, with hints of darker tones behind the picturesque bright colours, and with narration supplied by the legendary George Takei we have a surefire winner on our hands. And it features an animated cartoon poo. Give them an Oscar. Expect this to brighten your day after all the films about mental illness, the financial crisis and absentee parents.

Phew. Lotta stuff to process there. But only a week to go now, and our excitement is at fever pitch. See y’all down the silver screen next Saturday!