This year’s Phoenix Film Festival came and went in a blur but the films showcased will not soon be forgotten. This years selection for the Sci-Fi shorts was absolutely stellar with post apocalyptic themes and dystopian futures. While a few delved into the fantasy realm and one was a charming dissection on how to fall in love, the majority of the films had a hopeless dystopian theme.
One such film was When Tears Have Fallen, by Henrik Henziger. Taking place in a not so distance future where emotions have become so suppressed that bottles of them are sold on the black market, this film follows one woman as she risks everything to save her son who is in a coma. But when that risk involves taking her emotions, she is confronted with the decision to save her son or to keep the memories and emotions she felt while he was still alive. This film has such an interesting concept that flowed into every detail such as coloration on the characters. The filmmaker, Henrik Henziger was part of a small Q & A after the showing explained that the idea came from a short story of a similar theme. But while the short story had a concrete ending, Henrik wanted to leave the film’s end a little more ambiguous to leave it up for interpretation.,
My personal favorite of the show was The Routine by Brian Groth. This film chronicles a woman as she does her daily routine in a suburban home that is equipped with some high tech gadgets. But things start to unravel for this woman as her routine falls into disarray. The twist ending on this has a wonderful build up and as I reflected on it later, I realized there were so many little details that led to reveal. Its a one location film done simply and yet delivers a great slice of life.
Another filmmaker at the showing was Kirill Kripak, of RomatiCorp – Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Computer. Based on the idea of a company offering virtual tutoring on how to fall in love, this short film had some great graphics, funny dialogue and a warm end. The filmmaker is actually based in Dubai and was shot on location there giving another element of warmth and depth. Kirill explained that the concept for the film was actually created for a 48 hour film challenge and certain elements were taken directly from the challenge. As a participant in other 48 hour challenges I was blown away to hear this was created in that context. The quality was simply stunning for such a short time frame to complete.
And that was something that I noticed throughout the entire showcase, the quality of the films. While some of the films stories were generic or just plain odd, I found myself thinking while watching all of them that the quality of the filmmaking process is top-notch. The cinematography, the acting and the editing for all of the films seemed to be so professional that I feel the days of film festivals featuring shaky 3 megapixel videos is a thing of the past. Perhaps it is just a jump in technology or simply that the programming at the Phoenix Film festival has become more disconcerting but all of the films presented had a technical mastering that makes me hopeful for the future of filmmaking.
The Phoenix film Festival was held on March 26th through April 2nd at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theater. For information on the 2016 festival or to submit a film check out their website at phoenixfilmfestival.com