Saturday, July 17, 2021

Stranger Than Fiction Competition - 2021 North Bend Film Festival

The 2021 North Bend Film Festival is jam packed filled with feature films and short films as well as both virtual an in person experiences so there's no shortage of quality entertainment for anyone to enjoy. The festival includes a selection of films that are in competition for various awards and the organizers asked me to be on the jury for the Stranger Than Fiction category which for me is quite the honor. See below for a few thoughts on each of the six films that are part of the competition.

Luchadoras directed by Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim

Ayar directed by Floyd Russ
This movie might be the most meta out of this selection of films as it seamlessly blends reality and fiction with a narrative that is very timely and relevant to today's world. Real world problems are further complicated by the pandemic and there are elements of a hyper reality that I found a bit confusing as they never really have a proper payoff.

Code Name: Nagasaki directed by Fredrik S. Hana
This documentary, created by two long time friends as director and subject, is all over the place in it's storytelling style making for a mostly confusing account of a man's quest to reunite with his estranged mother. I think the creators thought they had something more than they actually did with this story. I will say that the conclusion ends up being emotionally satisfying, it was just difficult to get to that point without totally checking out.

Luchadoras directed by Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim
This is such a powerful story about women who train to fight as professional wrestlers while their real lives are literally in danger from a culture that is shadowed by the threat of violence. As a wrestling fan, I really enjoyed getting to know the women under the masks of characters like Lady Candy and Baby Star.

Potato Dreams of America directed by Wes Hurley
There's a really good story in here somewhere but what I saw just felt so long and it was hard to stay engaged with the characters. Split into two distinct parts with the first half set in Russia and the second half set right here in Seattle, this autobiographical tale would have been better served focusing more on the latter and leaving the former as a much shorter piece of the storytelling.

Red Post on Escher Street directed by Sion Sono
Red Post on Escher Street is a movie that is hard to slap a quick label or definition on. It is a comedy, a drama, a horror, an action movie, a satire, and a commentary on society, culture, and the film industry. At times the story feels really long and, around the halfway point, sits on the brink of falling apart but director Sion Sono weaves some magic with a third act that pulls everything together and delivers the goods in a very satisfying way. - Full Review

The Witches of The Orient directed by Julien Faraut
What an amazingly entertaining documentary! I loved the mix of storytelling styles woven together by director Julien Faraut using archival footage, interviews, and clips from anime shows that are based on the famous volleyball team. Getting to know these ladies and the lives they lived was a real treat and it's easy to see why and how they became an international phenomenon and some of the most feared women in the history of sports.

TwoOhSix Picks:
  • Best Film: The Witches of the Orient / Julien Faraut
  • Best Director: Julien Faraut / The Witches of the Orient
  • Best Screenplay: Sion Sono / Red Post on Escher Street
  • Best Editing: Julien Faraut / The Witches of the Orient
  • Honorable Mention: Luchadoras / Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at NBFF 2021.

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