If you didn't save the official program guide inserted into last week's Indy, you can find a full rundown of the fifth annual Indie Spirit Film Festival at indiespiritfilmfestival.org. With 118 films screening this year, I of course couldn't see a fraction of them. But with the help of festival organizers, I was able to check out a handful.
Note: All venues named here are on the Colorado College campus.
12 minutes, Friday, noon in the Screening Room
This Canadian animated film is based on a traditional Inuit story (told via voice-over) about two brothers who get lost atop broken sea ice, and drift into the otherworldly country of the wolves. One brother appears to escape, and having fought off pursuing wolves, returns home to his wife and village. Or is that just an illusion? Did he actually never make it back alive? Cool visuals and quite haunting overall.
77 minutes, Friday, 6:30 p.m., in the Screening Room; Sunday, 9:15 a.m., in Armstrong Theater,filmmakers attending Friday only
This largely Kickstarter-funded anti-rom-com, produced in Los Angeles by Religulous' Lisa Rudin, is built on the shoulders of likeable, Ed Helms-esque lead actor Kenny Stevenson. His real-life wife, Dorien Davies, plays the main romantic interest. In the ensemble-scripted film, which just premiered and earned an award at the Cleveland International Film Festival, they're both twisted liars fueled by break-up pains.
Stevenson's Neal abuses Craigslist's "Missed Connections" classifieds to prey on vulnerable women. Davies' Jane posts a fake ad, and the sexual tension ensues. Though it plays to convention, and at times hits Judd Apatow-worthy vulgarity, it's an entertaining, well-acted flick, with ample laughs.
Protect the Nation
16 minutes, Saturday, 11:30 a.m., in the Screening Room
A very powerful German-made short, filmed in South Africa, focusing on an 8-year-old protagonist. The boy experiences the kindness of a stranger, who saves him from some bullies. But the stranger isn't entirely a stranger at all, and when the boy realizes as much, he reacts in a way that unsettles even himself.
The film is inspired by the xenophobic violence against immigrants to South Africa in 2008, which displaced 40,000 and left 62 dead. It's dedicated to those unnamed heroes who stood up amid the turmoil.
Between the Curbs
18 minutes, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., in Armstrong Theater
This one's for our cyclists. Between the Curbs documents Boston's move in recent years to improve its biker-friendliness, having been named one of the worst cities in the world for those on two wheels around a decade ago. It's red-light-running bike messengers versus disgruntled motorists in a true culture clash with potentially deadly consequences. Unsurprisingly, it presses issues that apply to any city, even this, a host of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
12 minutes, Sunday, 9 a.m., in the Screening Room, filmmaker attending
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer-director Erik Pagan calls his 2011 thesis film a "modern day film noir." Two longtime NYPD detectives are on a stakeout, overhearing a mobster and his mistress, in bed. The tone quickly darkens as one detective accuses the other of having an affair with his wife. Conflict mounts in the squad car and in the mobster's apartment, causing the detectives to storm the residence. You won't be expecting what happens once the door's kicked in. The film's quite surprising and unsettling, impressive for the emotion it packs into the short format.