Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/11/2005 (5774 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mike Reisacher's eerily effective Porcelain Dreams uses black-and-white 16 mm with hand-processed distortions and a throbbing, threatening audio to evoke the hell of psychological disorientation. Milton Bruchanski stars as the man on the verge.
Jaimz Asmundson's Blow Me is a viscerally effective anti-cigarette argument -- though with its campy comedy and smoky sexual subtext, it's unlikely to be used in the public school system any time soon. Asmundson's semi-autobiographical story is directed through a stylish tobacco haze, as stressed-out journalist Ash Tray (Kyle Lemke) is confronted by hilarious hallucinatory personifications of his nicotine habit.
Danishka Esterhazy's The Snow Queen, winner of an NSI Zed Drama Prize, takes us from the snowy reality of a Winnipeg winter to crystalline images of the Ice Queen's realm, as the fairy-tale escape of a dreamy little girl transforms into a metaphor for her frozen emotional state. Esterhazy's direction is deft and delicately beautiful, and look for a lovely performance by nine-year-old Brittani Schick as the young girl.
In Kevin Nikkel's cleverly compressed romantic drama Juliet at 2:15, a cameraman (Milton Bruchanski again) filming an audition dreads the arrival of his actress girlfriend (Kristin Harris), knowing that she will be confirming suspicions of his affair with the assistant director (Toni Reimer).
Nikkel captures subtle performances from all corners of this doomed triangle, plus good work from Ward Massner as the director, who remains oblivious to the emotional subtexts swirling around him.
In Mark Borowski's Life Happens, Ryan Black stars as Matthew Young, whose work as a "freelance poet" is more likely to get him punched out than fed. Borowski manages to be sympathetic to both bohemian dreams -- Matthew's imagined version of a crazy beatnik coffeehouse -- and the concessions most of us end up making to real life.
Proving once again that no Winnipeg Film Group premiere would be complete without a reference to prostitution, Spoony B features the titular pimp (Aleksander Rzeszowski) rescuing his favourite employee from evil villains. Filmmaker Jonathan Ball avoids the usual WFG clichés, though, with the sneaky, inspired notion to combine silent-film melodrama and '70s pimp-sploitation subject matter, Chaplinesque physical comedy and jive-talking inter-titles.
Finally, The Salt Pillar by Daniel Eskin is a film of startling maturity and depth. Working with a modest budget and limited resources, Eskin and a strong ensemble cast somehow manage to convey the tragic weight of 20th-century European history. Following a German Jew walking back to his home village at the end of the Second World War, Eskin uses starkly beautiful long shots and sparse dialogue to harrowing emotional effect.