Featured Short Doc: THE CAROUSEL

I’m not sure what it is about B&W films that give me that unsettling yet familiar, soothing feeling after watching. I start feeling slightly unhinged during the viewing process - at once freaked out but at ease. I get this hyper-awareness regarding what cinema actually is. A recording of moments past. Little ghosts forever cemented on celluloid (or more like digital bits and bobs these days). So color me all shades (no pun intended) of emotional instability (but mostly the shade of thrilled) when I watched Jonathan Napolitano's festival favorite “The Carousel”. A short documentary that covers carousel art, a small town in New York and….the Twilight Zone?! Yeah, you heard right. Situated in the small town of Binghamton, NY, is a carousel from 1925...but not just any standard issue merry-go-round. This is one that once inspired the legendary Rod Serling and has since become a portal into something far beyond normal! Don't worry. There's nothing overly eerie about this film. It has an honesty to it and is quite the whimsical concoction of stories. A pinch of childhood nostalgia and a dash of talking television history gives birth to a lovely, low-key profile doc on Rod Serling's life via a carousel in New York. Serling, creator of the forever popular TV show "The Twilight Zone", was from Binghamton, sure, but what does the restoration efforts of an almost 100 year old ride there have to do with any of this? Well, when artists Bill Finkenstein and Cortlandt Hull decided to dedicate the carousel's panel art to Serling in order to honor the local, iconic episodes from the notorious series became relevant - including a memorable one titled “Walking Distance". This particular episode features an overworked career man that visits his hometown and pursues his younger self on a carousel, wanting so badly to tell the boy how important it is to cherish his youth. The storyline echoes Serling's own passion for nostalgia and childhood. The carousel in Binghamton served as massive inspiration for this television homage to saying goodbye to the past and moving on. From the childhood beauty and elegance of a wooden horse spinning in circles forever to the story of human finiteness - the irony is hard-hitting. But you can't deny the magic of such an existence, which is a theme often seen in "The Twilight Zone" and is definitely found in Napolitano's short film tribute: one that is, at once, painfully aware of the past while also continuing to hold onto those memories in the present (ala the presence of Serling's own daughter in the film, Anne). A time capsule or time machine - that's what you will find in "The Carousel". It's all up to how you interpret it. So, what are you waiting for? Take a haunting spin on a merry-go-round in B&W and feel that unsettling yet soothing struggle I often have when escaping into a monochromatic world on film. As I was, you too will be rewarded.  


Sometimes you judge a book by its cover. Sometimes you judge a film by its title. And with a short film like “Fill Your Heart with French Fries”, let’s just say: guilty as charged. But can you blame me?! With such an intriguing moniker, I knew there was no way I could be disappointed - and was I ever on point! While “Fill Your Heart with French Fries” may be a grab bag of online millennial references (Instagram, going viral, sponsored apparel, even a buzzfeed shout out!) it doesn’t have the pretentiousness that often comes along with the subject matter. A few minutes in and the film finds that fine balance between being too relevant and becoming timeless. Filmmaker Tamar Glezerman’s story of a break-up and the resulting heartbreak in these modern times of general romantic confusion is hilarious and yet still a quiet, low-key, eye-opening examination of simply being…human.  Based on the true story of a Chinese woman who stayed behind at a KFC for SEVEN full days after her boyfriend dumped her, Glezerman keeps the heart of the narrative but changes a few details. In her rendition, the dumped girl is American, a lesbian and the location is a fictional fast food restaurant named FryBaby's, totally created from scratch! Imagine being too sad to go home, never leaving the confines of a restaurant that prides itself on its fried “cuisine”. And somehow becoming a viral sensation after eating fries for a full week - without a shower or change of clothing. Is this a life low point or a life high point? Well, this is what is beautifully explored in the sad-comedy “Fill Your Heart with French Fries”. Commit to the full 20 minutes of the film (and stay for the surprise credits!) and you’ll be rewarded. A super sized order of comfort watching at its finest, with a side of heartbreak, viral catchiness and of course….fries!   

Is it an animated tutorial? A quick guide to creativity? Or a piece of art in itself? Whatever it is, it’s inspiring and looks pretty swell! And how fitting its title is!: “The Ultimate Guide to Inspiration”. If you’re feeling creatively uninspired and blocked or just a bit down and in need of a visual lift, BLND’s super short slick reminder regarding fear and inspiration is a must watch. A few days ago, we shared Simon Cade of DSLRguide’s video "Why Artists Are Never Happy”. We think this is the perfect companion piece if you’re a creative that has hit your emotional or artistic wall. Oh, and the animation style is absolutely stellar and not to be missed. Even if you’re not suffering from a creative lag, you’ll find something to visually love. As the video states, you gotta walk into the world, ready to be inspired. Take the first step and watch BLND’s inspirational-inspiration video now! This is one animation Indie Street is totally loving!  

Featured Short Film: UNREMARKABLE

Many films are just okay. Some are great. The rare few: jaw dropping. The even more rare few: *insert profanity/colorful vocabulary of choice* amazing. Other films are just bad. Really terrible. Downright horrible. Unwatchable. “I must clean my eyes of this filth immediately” level bad. And then sometimes, sometimes there are films that are simply unremarkable … and yet, ironically, end up being some of the best films you’ve seen all year. “But how?!” you exclaim incredulously in your head. This strange concoction of style, story and substance (in this case: showing the audience an everyday occurrence turned into something not quite so mundane on screen) is exactly what filmmaker Jared Anderson has brewed up with his new short “Unremarkable”. This is one AFI thesis that goes above and beyond what you thought a student film could be.  “Unremarkable” plays out almost orchestral. Tiny movements strung together to build up into a melody…to die for. A song of death, performed visually: an unnamed woman, clearly in fear, gets out of her car and proceeds to immediately fall to the ground, dead. In a city parking lot. Before we get any answers, Anderson shows us the process of well, basically dying in the most honest, straightforward way. From a 911 call, police presence, an autopsy, funeral preparations (WARNING: beware graphic scenes of dead woman having her innards taking out), a chatty forensic team member, the wake - the everyday process of dealing with the base level of death plays out. 1 dead woman of many. Unremarkable? Maybe on paper, but on film, anything but. The inevitable faces us as a (beautifully shot!) visually dissected reminder that we, too, will one day go through the same motions our unfortunate protagonist is put through. We just won’t be alive to enjoy the science and beauty that goes into the process of finality.  In the end, when we get our answers as to who this woman was and what happened to her, it almost doesn’t matter anymore. We already starting caring about her some time between when her body was sliced open, makeup was applied to her lifeless face and her grieving family looked down upon her dead body in a casket. A truly remarkable film that proves, while we are just one of billions, we all have a story. 

Featured Short: Lance Edmands' STRAYS

How can a physical place change or impact things? Change or impact us? When we attempt to escape our problems by physically running away, is anything ever truly solved? This is what is explored in Lance Edmands’ quiet, patient little short film “Strays”. After getting some life changing news, a young woman from Brooklyn attempts to flee her responsibilities and relationship troubles by running away to her late grandmother’s neglected upstate home. Unfortunately, she discovers she’s not the only one seeking refuge in the old house. As strays of both the human and canine variety make an appearance in her life, we, as a curious audience, are left wondering: who is really the stray here? Who is really free?  Edmands’ beautiful, low-key drama instantly draws you in with its 16mm look and feel. If you find yourself fatigued and/or overwhelmed from consuming too much online media, sometimes all you need is to watch a great film (inherently already gorgeous in terms of story and substance) shot on film to fall back in love with the medium. And “Strays” is the perfect one to lull you into a much needed peaceful state of 16mm indie film loving!  

Welcome to...Tuesday. Not quite the middle of the work week yet. Just the beginning enough to really start feeling the slog of the days ahead. Why not visually get away for a bit and escape into an animation we are totally loving this week??: Miao Jing/Hibanana Studio’s newest animation “Hills Beyond a River”, featuring music by Mickey Zhang&WHAI, will take you far away from that suffocating work state of mind. Its trippy style will do its job to amaze, free and distract you for a few minutes before bringing you dizzyingly back down to reality. Skirt your responsibilities, barrel ahead towards the weekend and get hypnotized by “Hills Beyond a River” now! 

Maria's Pick: Lil Dicky's PILLOW TALKING ft. Brain

Most definitely not your regular music video (really: don't watch it at work!). If the explicit sex scenes make you uncomfortable (although trust me, you haven't seen an intercourse shot quite like this ... and in Matrix style! ... though you might remember this Megaforce wackiness) feel free to ffw to 40s in where the love ends and the 'war' (a.k.a talk) begins. The witty rap lyrics are brilliantly lip-synched and so awesomely complimented by the occasional animations. The debate escalates (in a bizarre way!) quite naturally and what's so great about it is that it transcends 'pillow talk' and manages to depict conversations we might easily find ourselves having as well - whether online, with colleagues or people we have just been introduced to. The animated Brain, disregarded in the course of the action (as it's often the case in such contradictory talks), is left stating it needs to poop. And this might very well be the most adorable thing you've heard all day!  “Pillow Talking” is not the first collaboration between Dave Burd (Lil Dicky) and director Tony Yacenda. Though sharing a series of similarities with the four previous works between the two, "Pillow Talking" definitely ups things a notch being much more complex, cinematic and overall more similar to a short film rather than a regular music video. So embrace its uniqueness and enjoy the chit chat! 

  About Maria: "Multimedia in Human Form. Media researcher. Journalist. Filmmaker. PR and Social Media Mind. Cinephille. TV Shows aficionado. Books Lover. Music Video guru and former curator of the project"

Featured Animation: HATE FOR SALE

Every so often I come across a short film that I will silently pass on to my fellow film loving friends. Key word: silently. I don’t need to try to sale the film or wax poetic about this or that, over using filmic language with my signature heavy-handed verbosity. No, sometimes I come across a true gem that doesn’t require my word vomit explanations. It takes just a simple: “Watch this. Trust me.”  This is exactly what I did after watching Anna Eijsbouts’ stop-motion cut out animation “Hate for Sale”. Created for the 2017 Visible Poetry Project using an original poem by Neil Gaiman, this short manages to sum up the world we live in, in just under 3 minutes. Eijsbouts’ chaotic, multi-colored style mixed with Gaiman’s honest text creates sheer, gorgeous magic. It’s cruel, unique, and brutally true. It’s beautiful and arresting. The harsh words about the state of society and our sadly inherent lust for hatefulness in contrast with narrator Peter Kenny’s theatrical yet comforting voice and the film's visual puppet master controlled carnival-esque world is pretty much perfect in a way you have to watch to totally grasp. Just a few days before discovering this film, I spent a morning at a puppet theater. It was like disappearing into a totally different world, full of strings and illusions. Like the 20+ other 3-year-old audience members, I was entranced, fooled even. Now, after a few viewings of “Hate for Sale”, I feel like I finally get it. I see the control that societal expectations have over us. It took a 2.5 min short and a Park Slope puppet theater to truly open my eyes. We all need to cut some strings.  So, yes, it seems I’ve run away again with my words! Neil Gaiman himself tweeted that he watched and “was floored”. And that’s enough for me. Just: Watch this. Trust me.  

Over on Indie Street, we are definitely familiar with the fact that with new advancements in technology come new exciting forms of film and storytelling entertainment. But it’s not just films that are evolving - it’s the marketing and advertisement worlds as well. Take one of the newest commercials to hit the market: Sherwin-Williams. Sure, it’s hard to imagine a paint company dropping one of the most mind-blowing commercials of the year, but they’ve sure done it. The best part of their new commercial entitled “Epiphany”? Absolutely no CGI was used to create the jaw-dropping, trippy effects. All that was used was water, paint, a robotic arm and a Phantom camera. Technology in its purest form (just equipment essentially) leads to beautiful effects that will transport you to a multi-colored world of pillow-like clouds of paint. Jump in head first, watch the commercial, and then head over to No Film School to get a sneak peek at some amazing behind the scenes production stills and footage.  

Featured Short: The Lovable "123... You Please."

Many things come in threes: good stuff, deaths, triplets. It’s all about the “rule of three” - a magically (and literally) odd yet satisfying number. A wise owl once said it takes 3 licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop. See, magic.  You know what else is magic? Josh Close’s new short “123… You Please.”, a story that gives the number 3 a whole new meaning. We follow a blue-haired, perpetually frustrated Jesse as she struggles to maintain the normal routine of her daily life while also navigating her severe OCD. Her stability comes from rituals based around the number 3. But with a recent break up leaving her emotionally bruised and her OCD out of control, will a new and accepting relationship not only save her from that triple-doomed spiral but also help her learn self-acceptance in the face of insecurities?  Though it’s quirky with its Jean-Pierre Jeunet circa "Amelie"-era vibes and "Punch Drunk Love" fueled instability, “123… You Please.” still carves out its own place in the film world. Josh Close inserts many of his own experiences with the disorder, turning this story into a lovely and personal rom-com. Sweet as pie yet just as eye-opening, there’s such an abundance of necessary humanity to enjoy in this film. Allow yourself to face a whimsical sense of reality while also escaping into a totally new world and watch this short now!  

Featured Short Film: "At the End of the Cul-de-Sac"

Sometimes technical achievements trump story and creativity. Sometimes story and creativity win out over said technical achievements. And sometimes, just sometimes, in very rare, magical moments, creativity, story and technical prowess align and produce a mind-blowing filmic experience. Case in point: “At the End of the Cul-de-Sac”, the newest short film taking both the film and internet world by storm.  Imagined and pulled off by seriously impressive filmmaker Paul Trillo, this recent Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere is a force to be reckoned with. And why? Because the entire film is a single take shot entirely from a drone. Yes, a drone! Even more insane? The take that became the actual film was the very first official take of production. A daunting task, sure, but one that produced something that is sure to dazzle pretty much everyone. The skill on display in this film is seriously off the charts (and literally in the sky)!  Not only does “At the End of the Cul-de-Sac” show off some fine eye-candy aerial work, the short also navigates one man’s total and complete meltdown in an interesting way. In the film’s one continuous shot, we become like voyeurs, taking in the public insanity happening right in the middle of a suburban neighborhood cul-de-sac. As the neighbors gather and watch this emotionally unstable man “perform” for them, things turn dark as their almost cultish shaming is pushed to extreme heights - no pun intended! You’ve got to see this film in order to believe how it was made as well as enjoy the story it tells. If you haven’t already, make sure to set aside a few minutes to watch Trillo’s mini-technical masterpiece now!