After the film I edited, Terrible Love, premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2014, I decided to come back again this year for the Austin Film Festival 2015. A few of the standout films I’ve seen that are worth sharing and discovering include:
Keep in Touch
Recently out of prison, a disillusioned man looks to reconnect with his past and create a new future. After discovering that his “first love” died in a tragic accident many years ago, he stumbles upon her younger sister online. He soon develops an obsession with her that quickly turns into a relationship, but secrets about who he really is may threaten his hope for a better life.
This is an impressive film. The film manages to make a stalker character likable, heartfelt, and a person you’re rooting for. Moments that you think will be a one off jokes become conversational threads the filmmakers come back to and reveal their characters through. Tangents and ambient framing devices move from the background to the foreground of the story and tie together in unexpected ways.
There are lot of films about people on a journey of self discovery, but few are as brilliantly constructed or make choices as bold as this one. This film is unique in a way it’s difficult of a synopsis or poster to convey. If you’re going to see one indie stalker self-help romance, make it this one.
Sympathy for the Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement
There exists a long list of conspiracy theories surrounding The Process Church of the Final Judgment, a group accused of being the inspiration for Charles Manson, influencing the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, and being the root of the infamous Son of Sam serial killings – Only now, former members reveal the truth about the misunderstood group once dubbed ‘One of the most dangerous Satanic cults in America.
I’m a sucker for cult movies – the weird group dynamics, the bizarre rituals, the occult beliefs… When it comes to cults, this movie has it all, right down to the cult’s husband-wife founders meeting when they were auditing each other in Scientology.
What I love about this film is that none of the former members seem to have any interest in condemning the Process Church. Yes, it was a bit strange, but they had a lot of fun doing it, and some of them even got something out of it. A few people even told me after the screening, they’d consider joining if the cult was still around. It made me want to learn more about the group, which is the best thing you can say of a documentary.
Told in blaring rockumentary style, both the film and it’s subject matter make no apologies for their shocking presentation. Like the group itself, the film is willing to laugh and admit “isn’t this all a bit ridiculous?” – while still putting on a damn good show.
After a private defense operation goes horribly awry, a new recruit with unparalleled determination is blamed for it and finds himself on the run. Halfway across the world and with no safety net, he happens upon a reluctant ally and his abilities are put to a life-and-death test. He must piece together the truth by re-creating the events of the ill-fated mission with only the audio recording to guide him. As the puzzle proves more complicated and sinister than he imagined, the lines between right and wrong become increasingly blurred, and he must make decisions with consequences he may not be prepared to handle.
Newcomer is pure minimalist thriller filmmaking. We never know the details of who this spy organization is or what they’re fighting for. What we do know from the first frame onward is the determination of our main character, and his meticulous attention to detail – an attention shared by the filmmakers. Most of the story is told without dialogue. Even the protagonist’s attempts to put events together in his mind is shown through visualized flashbacks in a way I haven’t seen done in any other film.
If you like spy movies, this one is the real thing. It will be hard to go back to mainstream action filmmaking, after seeing what is possible with Newcomer.
I discovered the Austin Film Festival last year, when the film I edited called Terrible Love premiered at the Austin Film Festival, and won the Narrative Feature Audience Award. If you’d like to check out the trailer for that film, click here.
Watch More: Terrible Love Trailer