Year after year, festivals have come to show the love of film making people have, bringing together not only filmmakers to showcase their talent, but also moviegoers to enjoy these works of art. The Soho International Film Festival does just that.
The Soho International Film Festival took place from April 5th to April 12th, featuring the works of numerous filmmakers- all ranging from high school students to people with iPhones to filmmakers with actual professional grade camera equipment. No film is discriminated against and nothing is turned away.
This is the fourth year of the festival, which films have been shown at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in Soho, New York. With its unique feel, the theater brings forth the audience and filmmakers to have a spectacular festival showing what someone’s passion can lead them to make.
Olivia Delaurentis, a high school junior, wrote and directed the 30 minute film, My Better Half. Her work follows the life of an overachiever who is trying to get into college and finally collapses when all her work catches up to her. I got a chance to speak with Delaurentis and this is what she had to say about her film:
What made you come up with the idea?
Delaurentis: It was partially through improv because I do lots of improv and I’m on a comedy sports team at my school, so if I can come up with a joke I can kind of come up with a scene around that and make a movie. The actual plot of the movie came from the fact that everyone in high school was so over-obsessed about being perfectly successful. The stereotypical sense of the word, more so than caring about what they actually want to do. I think it’s really important to even give up everything else just to be happy and so I wanted to express that.
What motivated you to actually film it instead of making a joke about it?
Delaurentis: I’ve always loved making movies; I’ve been making stupid little shorts since I was like five, so it’s like really fun for me just in general, so it was sort of a ‘let’s make this my next project’ kind of thing. I made one last summer with the same guy in it, Drew, and I thought- oh, we usually make them in the summer too- Drew will do anything so I thought I’ll make him a crazy guy and we just went out and filmed.
Other shorts that I got the chance to see included Morning Calm, Beside Her, The Test, Foxed, Future Memory, A Second Thought, Unexpected Guest, Here You Go, I Can Smoke?, and Uncomfortable Silence.
Morning Calm: Morning Calm is a film about a man who loses his love and tries desperately to cope with that fact, all while trying to grasp onto his last memories of her. I liked this short since it was a “coping with reality” sort of story, but it really didn’t work since there was too much going on for it to remain constant. For instance, in the 19 minutes, the short features flashbacks, a psychiatrist’s office, a party, several scenes on the beach and several more in a bathtub. This would have worked with less scenes (like cutting out the party and psychiatrist office, since people would understand he lost his love without those scenes trying to explain it), but there really wasn’t a story there for a full feature film. I rate it a 5 and a half, since it really tried too hard to show a story. ★★★★★☆
Beside Her: A film by Carrie Carnevale, the short features two female lovers who balance work and life, all until something goes terribly wrong to overthrow that balance. I actually liked the use of suspense in the short as it was totally misleading and really shocked you at the end. I do see twist endings coming from a mile away, but this short did a really good job to keep me on the edge of my seat. While the short could have done with a few less scenes (an overly dramatic sex scene between the two plus the rather boring talk about rain for instance), but I still give it 7 stars.★★★★★★★
The Test: Let’s say I love it. This comedic 13 minute short kept the entire theater filled with laughter, and better yet, the two stars were husband and wife duo Patrick Fischler (Speed) and Lauren Bowles (Hall Pass). I loved the concept of the film- a couple going through divorce trying to find out if the almost ex-wife is pregnant only to have their pregnancy test ruined in the most comedic ways. I give this a 8, it was just that entertaining.★★★★★★★★
Foxed: If you can watch this and not be moved by this stop-motion short, you have no heart. James Stewart worked sweat and tears to tediously create this four minute stop-motion (when you take a picture of every frame of the image you want to create) short about a child who works at a child labor camp in another world away from her family. This deserves a 6 ½ from me for its great story.★★★★★★☆
Future Memory: Another one of those cases where a plot twist can be detected by yours truly, this short follows the story of a woman who visits a Shaman (some pajama wearing man who can see into the future) and believes the future can be changed. In hopes of changing the future, she manages to follow this course directly and ultimately, leave the future unchanged. I give it a 5, since it had an amazing storyline to it, but that was it.★★★★★
A Second Thought: Props should be given to Choice Skinner alone for even managing to create a story in under two minutes- on his iPhone nonetheless. I can’t even sum it up for you without giving away the entire story, but it’s basically a bus ride home after receiving some news. It deserves a 7, due to the fact it was able to portray a rather strong story in such a short amount of time.★★★★★★★
Unexpected Guest: Since I got to meet Bradley Stryker, I wouldn’t be surprised that he actually does the things he does in the short in actual life. The short is about a hunter who lives in a log cabin in a woods finds a woman with amnesia, and things go down from there. The film gets a 7 from me, with its original plot and good twist.★★★★★★★
Here You Go: If you think The Artist was a good modern silent film, you haven’t seen nothing yet! Here You Go follows two subway clowns in their quest to find each other, and this modern silent film (basically everything except the main characters are heard) brings you to finding love in the city. This short definitely earned an 8 ½ for being such a “cinematic piece.”★★★★★★★★☆
I Can Smoke?: Kill Bill meets Pulp Fiction, or better yet, a combination of mostly every Tarantino film with “hooker and prostitute undertones.” I need not explain anymore, but just know that Tony Ducret could almost be the next Tarantino- the short was gritty and funny, served with a side of revenge. This short gets a 7 for being rather entertaining in twisted and messed up ways.★★★★★★★
Uncomfortable Silence: What do you do when the whole world is being taken over by technology? You get lost by using technology that helped you get lost in the first place. Uncomfortable Silence is written by Italian director Gabriele Altobelli but takes place in New York City, the place where the world is run by madness and everyone needs to stay connected. This thought provoking film is a must see and gets a 8.★★★★★★★★
At the end of the day’s screenings, a question and answer session is held to discuss each short. The shorts were clumped up together in this session and anything from how the film was made to where to follow the film was discussed.
For Unexpected Guest, Bradley Stryker was asked if it was intended to be more than a short. Stryker responded, “It started out as a short after I was home with my better half eating like an animal. I thought that was hilarious so a group of friends and I went out and shot it, as a short. Then it evolved into a feature, where I found a lot more fun in the humor.
“We didn’t have permits to film in the subway station so we just shot the scenes we needed and got out of there,” stated Jill Durso after being asked how she filmed. She also added, “We wanted to portray him silently with everything else there, so it was like he was in a bubble, all singled out.”
Altobelli added that they began shooting “during Hurricane Sandy. We had five or six days of shooting and it was during the hurricane with no power. We got a generator and finished the film.” He also noted that the music was actual live music recorded and orchestrated for the film.