25 March, 2015

A Conversation With Lanre Olabisi, Director of ATLFF World Premiere “Somewhere in the Middle” (****)

Cassandra Freeman and Charle Miller star in "Somewhere In The Middle"

I had the good fortune of working with Lanre Olabisi, writer/director/creator of “Somewhere in the Middle,” at this year’s Atlanta Film Festival Writer’s Retreat. With him was his new wife, Tiffany Smile, whom he married on Saturday. Yes, this past Saturday… be sure to ask to see their wedding video. It’s beautiful.

Lanre won the ATLFF Screenplay Competition in 2009 and has returned this year as a mentor for this year’s winners. He’s thoughtful and kind and just as excited to show you his film as you should be to see it. In between workshopping scripts, we had a chance to sit down and talk about his newest feature.

ATLFF Review & Interview: "Janey Makes A Play" (****)

To know Janey is to love Janey. A dancing, chuckling, playwriting 90-year-old great-grandmother, Janey Callahan-Chin is the essence of youth. Her unwavering positivity and bulletproof work ethic have shaped an indispensable role in the small town community of Rio Vista, California: she's been writing, directing, and producing local stage plays for thirteen years. "Janey Makes A Play" documents Janey's non-profit troop No Small Thing Productions as they prepare for their eighteenth play—an original story about a mortgage banker, his daughter, and the quest to save their town from The Great Depression. Director Jared Callahan (AD on "I Am Not A Hipster" and the short that inspired "Short Term 12") delivers his feature-length debut with graceful command and charming purpose. This Atlanta Film Festival World Premiere is a tender, joyous must-see.

24 March, 2015

ATLFF Reviews: "Christmas, Again" (****) & "Funny Bunny" (***)

Kentucker Audley stars in "Christmas, Again." 

“Christmas, Again,” written and directed by Charles Poekel, is so subtle a film that it runs the risk of being periphery. It’s a piece so quiet and observational that it doesn’t require (nor does it want) a spotlight; it’s not flashy or loud or jokey. It doesn’t demand the viewers attention by being conventional and melodramatic and lurid. “Christmas, Again,” does just the opposite, in fact… it elevates honesty and character and successfully captures what it means to be lonely. 

Despite the quiet and hushed tenor of “Christmas, Again,” Kentucker Audley, who plays the film’s central character, Noel, won’t let you look away. He’s the steady, unrelenting heartbeat of this film, and his performance is so small and toned and thoughtful. He looks like a more handsome version of Martin Freeman and performs and acts in a way that, to me, really resonates with an extremely versatile actor like Ryan Gosling… but, like, Ryan Gosling when he’s doing his best kind of work- quirky, character-driven independent dramas. 

23 March, 2015

ATLFF Review: "Good Grief Suicide Hotline" (***½)

Directed and Co-written by Sam Carter, "Good Grief Suicide Hotline" is a brutally dark comedy that focuses on a group of hustlers, scammers, and scumbags "working" at a Suicide Hotline. The film was shot in Atlanta and includes a handful of local indie talent. Atlanta director Sam Carter and screen writing partner Evan Fowler have gathered a really stellar ensemble cast, filling this raunchy ridiculous comedy with the life it needs.

The film's nonchalant and unwaveringly detached view of the usually delicate subject matter is a bit jarring at first. The plot is set in motion after our lead character, Mark (Dane Davenport) feels guilty after being somewhat involved in the suicide of another young man. Davenport has an innocence and a heart that give the film some much needed warmth. Despicable characters run rampant throughout, but somehow the script and the performances allow them to be somewhat likable. The cast of colorful characters and their back-and-forth constantly make for an enjoyable and unpredictable time. The film's ridiculousness and kooky tone make the characters forgivable and the suicide jokes palatable.

22 March, 2015

ATLFF Review: "Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi" (****)

"Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi" has its world premiere at the
39th annual Atlanta Film Festival

I have to admit, I have always preferred narratives to documentaries. For me, narratives provided an opportunity to escape, to enter a world with thrilling fictional stories and characters that everyday life simply could not provide. “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi” proved me wrong. This documentary by Neal Broffman, an ex-CNN journalist, is as engaging as it is meaningful. Sunil’s story absolutely demands to be shared with the world, and the fact that these events actually occurred make this film that much more engrossing.

21 March, 2015

ATLFF Review: "The Dickumentary" (***½)

"The Dickumentary" is just that. It’s a documentary about dicks. Interviews from over forty experts explore the penis from just about every angle. Penises from around the world, penises from different time periods, penises from other species, PENISES! "The Dickumentary" trots the globe as it shows the penis through the eyes of multiple cultures.

Writer and Director Sofian Khan does an excellent job keeping the tone light and never becoming too self-serious. The opening credits include a series of phallic-shaped landmarks, monuments, and everyday things that you probably never thought looked like dicks...until now. The entire first fifteen minutes of the film explore various animal penises. Though I had no idea how ducks ejaculated prior to watching it, my interest started to wane after a few minutes. There were a few times like this when "The Dickumentary" began to feel like an educational video a substitute teacher would use to keep her students busy.

20 March, 2015

ATLFF Review: "Eight" (****½)

Editor's Note: This review comes courtesy of the newest member of the Reel Georgia family—Calvin Su. A student at Georgia Tech and a member of the marketing department at the Atlanta Film Festival, Calvin is already a tremendous addition to our team. His interest and intelligence are equally obvious right away and I know you'll all enjoy everything he writes for us. -CM

Libby Munro in "Eight," screening at the 39th annual Atlanta Film Festival.

"Eight" is an Australian, eighty-two minute, one-shot narrative film. You read that right. One shot.

Directed by Peter Blackburn and starring Libby Munro in the leading role, "Eight" tells the story of Sarah Prentice. Sarah suffers from severe OCD and agoraphobia that has left her confined to her home for the past two years, trapped in a repetitive cycle of eights. Her illness has cost her her husband and daughter, both of whom no longer live with her. The film provides just a small snapshot into Sarah's long battle with her mental illness, and I have to admit, it is very unsettling. 

19 March, 2015

2015 Atlanta Film Festival Kicks Off with "I Am Michael" (****)

James Franco stars as Michael Glatze in "I Am Michael"

"You wanna go to Heaven, right?"
"If you're a moral person, then you'll choose heterosexuality in order to be with God."

And so opens Justin Kelly's directorial debut, "I Am Michael," the true story of former gay rights activist Michael Glatze's denouncement of homosexuality. In this first scene, Glatze—played by James Franco ("The Interview," "This Is the End," "Oz the Great and Powerful," "127 Hours," "Milk")—speaks to a teen boy who's having trouble reconciling his homosexuality with his spirituality. Glatze's reasoning here shocks anyone who knew him (or his name) just years before.

13 March, 2015

Reel GA to Guest Judge WonderRoot's Local Film Night!

The partnerships forming between Georgia's independent film organizations get better and better, y'all, and the team behind Reel Georgia is honored to be a part of them! Join us at WonderRoot's Generally Local, Mostly Independent Film Seriesvoted Best Local Film Series three years running by Creative Loafing Atlanta—where we'll serve as the Guest Jury for this quarter's installment of locally-made short films on Thursday, March 19th at 8pm.

05 March, 2015

2015 Atlanta Film Festival Announces Opening & Closing Nights!

James Franco and Zachary Quinto star in "I Am Michael"

The 39th Annual Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) announced their Opening and Closing Night films on Monday. Friday, March 20th, The Plaza Theatre will host a premiere screening of "I Am Michael," which stars James Franco, Zachary Quinto, and Emma Roberts. Sunday, March 29th, ATLFF will close with "Sunshine Superman," a whirlwind documentary about the founding father of BASE jumping.