Well, Cucalorus was awesome. It was the first film festival I’d ever been to, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience that. It’s amazing to see that many people gathered in one general area all for the love of film. The experience was also great because of the intimate, personal atmosphere created by having the filmmakers play an active role at the screenings. Being able to ask them questions and actually see them answer the questions in their own way was really awesome.
My favorite screening that I attended was one of the shorts blocks that I went to. The “Flesh Jelly Shorts” block. It was perhaps a collection of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen. When they described them as “weird” …well, they weren’t kidding. The first film from that block was “The Quiet Girl’s Guide to Violence.” The actress who played the lead role in the film also co-wrote and produced it out of Austin, TX. The film was very well shot, and although it is extremely violent (a girl attacks people with an aluminum baseball bat), the graphic imagery is left to the mind, as the shots cut write when the bat strikes someone. The only indication that the person was hit was an incredible foleyed sound of the bat hitting someone’s head. I don’t know how it was achieved but it was amazing. But the the way it was shot keeps the audience on edge throughout the film, and there were several times during the screening that everyone jumped a little. The script was also very well-written and although the protagonist is a murderous, vengeful psychopath, the audience is prompted to sympathize with her because of how she was bullied, which is shown in flashbacks.
The second film from that block was called “Chance.” The mise-en-scene was really cool, and the lighting and the setting made the film much more suspenseful. It seemed like a fog machine was used to make the room look slightly hazy in the light. The acting was also really good. The guy who played the “killer” looked pretty crazy. The concept of a person who goes around killing “do-nothings” was interesting. I’d never really seen that explored on film before.
The third film, “Tumult”, was really morbid, as there were graphic shots of peoples’ heads being cut off, but the overall tone of the film was comical. The juxtaposition of an ancient war setting with that of a modern tour group was hilarious, and I thought it was very original. The acting was superb and the special effects and cinematography were excellent. There were some amazing shots of the mountainous countryside.
The last film that played in the block was just amazing. It was called “blackstory” the opening sequence of a five-way split screen was awesome, as a slow reveal shows the aftermath of everything that happens throughout the rest of the film. The acting was great, and the editing was immaculate. The cuts and transitions were awesome, and the split-screen was used in such a cool way to introduce new characters, clue the audience in on what is going to happen next, and create an intense suspense throughout the film. At time the film had a dark comedy aspect to it, as the irony and coincidences that occur throughout it draw laughter, but the content was very violent and graphic.
I really enjoyed that shorts block, and my second favorite screening was “Journey to Planet X.” The film was a documentary about the making of a film called “Planet X.” What made that particular screening so interesting was the fact that the filmmakers were there for a Q&A after it showed, and they were really cool guys. They were great with the questions and hearing their input on the film and the subjects of the film made the film that much better. Also, before that screened Matt Hulse’s film showed, which was about a dog who “hunts” bagels. It was filmed like a nature show on Animal Planet or National Geographic. It was incredibly funny. He was also available afterward for the Q&A.
Overall, I’d say that experiencing Cucalorus has made me want to attend more festivals. I really like watching films, but the chance to ask the filmmaker about his or her choices is a great way to learn new things about making films and a way to get insight into how to draw inspiration from various places. I can’t wait until next year!!