Alan White: 7th Annual Up&Coming Juror Statement

65 entries. Impressive. 65 filmmakers writing, directing, shooting, editing, sound mixing, color timing, uploading. Not to mention, finding locations, casting actors, building sets, wardrobe, make-up, organizing, organizing, organizing. So bravo to all the filmmakers for just doing it - getting out there and making something. No one ever knows how much work, heart and soul goes into it.

That said I am always reluctant to “judge” films. It is so subjective. I don’t really like film criticism at all. It just seems to be so polarized and personal. I think it’s okay to either like something or not, but there is never a winner or loser in my view. Whatever I select is not really the “best” - just a reflection of my personal aesthetic. Congratulations to all the film makers - you are all the “best”. Just keep making films and don’t let any ones’ opinion or criticism deter you from that path if filmmaking is something you are passionate about.

Okay, here is my completely subjective, personal perspective on the films that appealed to me.

Dan & Rene’s: Dan And Rene Make a Movie
A well made and very amusing satirical piece about the film maker’s journey. It is very difficult to make a movie within a movie successfully, to be tonally consistent with comedy and to also make a statement with that humor, especially when you are lampooning the very craft you are studying! This movie does all three with panache.

Table Talk Memories
A moving and compelling impressionistic film about loss being passed from generation to generation. The film was wonderfully paced - seducing and engaging the viewer to watch and hear more by carefully montaging omniscient, abstract perspectives as the subject remembers his past loss in the most authentic way - as a teller of the truth. Is this experimental or documentary? It is both and it is excellent.

An engaging and emotionally compelling documentary about homelessness. Juxtaposing an extreme close up on the subject with shallow depth of field and interesting play of focus, with much wider and fully focussed observations of William’s traffic light environment, was a very simple and effective way of supporting his story. So too was the arc found in William’s narrative - always a difficult task in documentary.

Well written and performed, Henchman, was a funny take on the plight of those who’s destiny it is to guard doors! The simplicity of the setting and cinematography was in perfect synch with the story. The edit maximized the differences between the two leads. They say conflict makes for good drama - it also makes for good comedy and the building of these two characters in the screenplay as foils to each other was very effective. The whimsy of the ending made for a very satisfying and entertaining film.

Meter Running
An investigative journalism piece that explored the plight facing San Diegan taxi drivers in the wake of the Stingaree night club tragedy. The film successfully created a re-enactment scene that blended seamlessly with source footage. Observations of the public reaction to the tragedy and the activism it inspired were judiciously intercut with a compelling interview with a whistleblower taxi driver. To encourage him to actually blow the “whistle” and threaten his very livelihood in doing so was a huge achievement and a centerpiece of the film.

A Nice View
Beautifully shot, this obscure yet compelling story drew me in, through it’s artful lens and interesting characters. Excellent sound design underscored the cinematography to create a very atmospheric environment and film. This was a film that very much created it’s own cinematic sense of place. The cryptic narrative ensured the viewer kept watching until the subtle ending with it’s arresting final image.

The Box
An engaging thriller about a mysterious box that appears on a doorstep. The cinematography very effectively underscored the thriller narrative. The sound design gave the mystery box a distinct personality that played very well into the narrative. Well acted, the lead character’s naturalism was ably supported by the omniscient camera that consistenly “crept” behind him.

Love Bytes
An interesting commentary on how technology interrupts human interaction. Simple and effective the narrative at first seduces you with it’s naturalism, leading the viewer to believe it’s just a “love story”, but the protagonists do indeed prove that “Love Bytes”!