The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Why Indie Films Matter

Why Indie Films Matter

A Breakdown of the 2019 Alexandria Film Festival

Kate Casper and Bobby Sweeney

The indie film–it could be absolute garbage or it could be absolutely amazing. Every year at the Alexandria Film Festival, audience members are subjected to a wide variety of films, from fictional shorts to large-scale documentaries to full feature movies. The beauty of any good indie film is the malleability of its production and its ability to dive into complex themes often neglected or not properly represented in mainstream movies. 

This year, the Alexandria Film Festival featured standout films like She’s in Portland, a road trip romance movie, and Daddio, a short comedy produced by former Saturday Night Live cast member and T.C. alumni Casey Wilson. The festival also included international films like Dolls Don’t Die, Precious and The Body.

She’s in Portland is a heart-warming dramedy that follows two friends Wes (Tommy Dewey) and Luke (Francois Arnaud) as they road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway to find Luke’s “one-that-got-away” Maggie (Nicole LaLiberte) in Portland. While the journey represents Luke chasing a lost love; moreso, it represents Wes and Luke’s love story as friends and the self-discovery as they ponder the true meaning of love and relationships. Filmmaker Marc Carlini said, “The core of this is about authenticity and brotherhood.”

This film certainly is not your average road trip movie–there are major shocks, cliffhangers, and unexpected twists that contrast the typical idealistic road trip film. Both leads Dewey and Arnaud were able to deliver the comedic timing, snappy one-liners, and dry sarcastic humor necessary for any good dramedy. In addition, the soundtrack for She’s in Portland was excellent, with an indie beach vibe that fit the mood of the movie. The cinematography was fantastic, boosting the production value one smooth drone shot at a time. She’s in Portland also featured seasoned actors including, most notably, Minka Kelly, best known for her role in Friday Night Lights. After watching the film, it is clear why She’s in Portland won the Audience Choice Award. 

Daddio is a film by former SNL Cast Member and TC Williams alum Casey Wilson about a father and daughter dealing with the loss of a family member. After her mother dies, Abby, the daughter, slides into deep depression filled with junk food and cigarettes. Her father, Paul, tackles grief in a very different way. Paul’s cheery attitude seems off-putting at first, but there are times when the audience can see the true pain Paul is avoiding. As a director, Wilson’s approach is admirable to a concept so dark and her attempts to lighten the grief that follows death with humor are occasionally successful. However, Daddio’s storytelling unfortunately fails to grasp its audience with the humor that is introduced from the start as playfully dark, only to skip over more serious moments with pretentious humor. Though the film ends on a heartwarming note, it is not enough to erase the  awkward feeling brought about by the dark comedy. 

Del Ray: Where Main Street Still Exists is a short film based on the community of Del Ray in Alexandria, Virginia. Although this short film attempts to be heartfelt and welcoming, it comes off as supercilious and entitled. It would have been better as an ad for real estate in Del Ray, than a submission in a film festival. Throughout the film, several residents and store owners are interviewed about what makes Del Ray, including special residents are tagged with the title of “Local Legend” during their interview. This leaves the audience questioning the “Local Legends” are interviewed, while they roll their eyes and yawn in boredom. While Del Ray is a vibrant community with plenty to see and do, there is not enough going on to make a twenty minute short film about. 

Dolls Don’t Die is a heart-wrenching Canadian short about a little girl named Mia coping with the death of her older sister Jessica due to Jessica’s eating disorder. The film highlights topics including body dysmorphia and the love between two sisters. Switching back and forth between the little girl baking a cake in her Easy Bake oven for her sister to flashback scenes highlighting her sister’s slow descent into a full-scale eating disorder, provides a striking contrast between Mia’s youthful innocent spirit and Jessica’s internal battles and demons. Filmmaker Julie Prieur said, “A few years ago, I found out that some of my friends had some issues with food…At the same time I was in the process of writing a short film about the danger for young girls wanting to be too perfect, too pretty…I thought I could merge both subjects.” The film was beautifully shot with music that captured the erie, gloomy, yet playful mood of the film.  

All in all, the Alexandria Film Festival is the perfect event for any local film junkie to attend to watch a variety of films and discuss with filmmakers from around the world.

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Why Indie Films Matter