54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, Opening Night Competition 2016

ANN ARBOR, Mich. –– The following is an entry-by-entry review of all in-competition films screened on the opening Tuesday night of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

REGAL (Karissa Hahn, Los Angeles, CA; 2015; 2 minutes, 16mm) A combination of nostalgic internet, VCR, and multiplex nuances equally aged in static. 2.5/5

Back Track (Virgil Widrich, Vienna, Austria; 2015; 7 minutes, DCP) I’m going to see how long it takes before TCM screens this nightly between features. It’s always said that putting a great story to film is dependent on the right edits. Widrich’s splicing of audio and visuals enables a new story to be told through the inspiration, if not usage, of those that came before. 4.5/5

Drive-In (Joel Rakowski and Terri Sarris, Ann Arbor, MI; 2015; 2 minutes, digital file) What progresses as a live-action slideshow is actually a loving tribute to a longstanding regional icon, the Ford-Wyoming. 4/5

The Place (Julia Poplawska, Poland; 2015; 15 minutes, DCP) John Carpenter-esque by building a mood of isolation, this non-narrated document on actions and interactions at a High Tatras weather station allows for an exploration of routine and non-routine occurrences that brew a surprise sense of tension. 3.5/5

Hotel 22 (Elizabeth Lo, Los Angeles, CA; 2015; 9 minutes, DCP) A one-night documentary on a mobile source of shelter for homeless people in the Los Angeles area, Hotel 22 reveals that a place to sleep is no respite from hostile reality for those looking for that very thing. 4/5

Isola del Giglio (Tom Schroeder, St. Paul, MN; 2014; 10 minutes, DCP) A rotoscoped reenactment of a journalized day on the titular island, Schroeder is more focused on the interaction of the locals than its preceding or resultant action. 4/5

Life with Herman H. Rott (Chintis Lundgren, Tallinn, Estonia; 2015; 11 minutes, DCP) An anthropomorphic Odd Couple, this animated riot balances the hazardous chemistry between contrasting personalities with an out-of-left-field response to the expected character change that remains perfect thanks to its own contrast from the rest of the story mood. 5/5

Discontinuity (Lori Felker, Chicago, IL; 2016; 15 minutes, DCP) A hilarious companion to the prior title because of its subject matter, Lori Felker’s anarchic edit of a couple’s reunion also mixes personality clash humor with a lingering sense of yearning compound by distance. The chaos over cats, dialogue stunners, unexpected guests, and a maybe symbolic final gift help to punch the theme of harmony hampered in my face with a pair of (spoiler omitted). 5/5

For more information about the Ann Arbor Film Festival, visit www.aafilmfest.org.



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