SaMo INDIE 2015

2015 Award Winners

Best Narrative Feature – Eddy And Viv | Australia | Director Simon Larkins

Best Narrative Short – Palm Trees | United States | Director Diana Cignoni

Best Animated Short – Late | United States | Director Christi Bertelsen

Best Documentary Feature – Angel Of Nanjing | United States | Director Jordan Horowitz

Best Documentary Short – 2.5% – The Osa Peninsula | United States | Director Eytan Elterman

2015 Audience Choice

Night One – My Best Friend’s Death | United States | Director Eric McCoy

Night Two – IamYou | United States | Director Micah Van Hove

2015 In Competition

Narrative Features

Eddy and Viv | Australia | 89:50

This dark comedy hailing from Australia is a cleverly crafted and superbly acted feature film. Writer Chantelle Jamieson delivers crisp and confident dialogue, with the able hand of director Simon Larkins keeping the film moving along nicely. The filmmakers have a lot of fun putting the pressure on the charismatic leads and deliver a fun ride that’s sure to leave you with a grin.

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Encouragement | Canada | 51:22

Surreal is an understatement when it comes to this film from first-time feature director Devin Terrance McAdam. Haunting visuals captivate right out of the gate and the film never loosens its grip. Within the claustrophobic confines of the protagonist’s world, the film navigates the dark planes and hidden spaces within us all. With a directorial vision and authority that few possess and even fewer put forth, Encouragement is a film you’ll not likely forget. Ever.

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Narrative Shorts

A Way Out | United States | 13:45

Familiar themes permeate this short mobster narrative. Strong visuals and tight performances endear us to the plight of the aging gangster who wants to make his escape from the “biz.” With a deft hand, director Jason Tostevin delivers a fresh take on the genre with this engaging short film.

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Another Easygoing Brother in the Meadow Wind | United States | 7:58

In one uninterrupted take, this quiet World War II drama gives a cinematic and poetic portrayal of soldiers at war. The loneliness and isolation of the protagonist is elegantly rendered through the serene and expansive landscape, with a quiet narrative riding the visuals. A tranquil reflection on a tumultuous time, this short practically lets you feel the crisp air on your cheek.

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Artful Gambit | United States | 14:48

A slow burn psychological thriller, Artful Gambit combines excellent set design, gripping performances and clever camera work in this crafty short. Writer Kristen Shilton keeps us guessing as director Sigurd Culhane slowly tightens the screws, delivering a compelling little narrative gem.

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Ball of Hope | Syrian Arab Republic | 17:38

From the war-torn country of Syria comes this quirky romantic comedy. With great comedic timing and some excellent technical craft, this wonderful short film gives an amazing insight into a world that few in the West get the chance to see. We’re proud to be given the opportunity to showcase this fun film at SaMo Indie 2015.

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Bird | United States | 14:56

This dramatic short comes to us from the film program at Santa Monica College. First time director Brittany Rae Barber has crafted a poignant, personal piece with a great sense of intimacy. Jezai Torres delivers a captivating performance as the young lead, with the tasteful cinematography giving life to Barber’s vision. A mature, well-rounded film and a superb student effort, Bird is sure to be the start of a promising career for this talented young director.

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Curious-City | Australia | 26:06

This surreal drama from Australia is one of the most unique films in our line-up this season. With a cat-burglar like grace, this film takes us on a journey that seems familiar and yet is anything but. With excellent performances all around, the film toys with expectation, upsets preconceptions and delivers a bit of magic in the process. Highly stylized visuals and a strong directorial hand make Curious-City a joy to watch.

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Cusp | United Kingdom | 14:33

Director Oliver Warren makes wonderful use of light and shadow in this heart-felt short film from the United Kingdom. Cusp easily draws you in from the first frame and keeps you involved with an innate calm. A film made with great empathy and a solemnity that feels at once both grand and intimate, it hits all the right notes and leaves you feeling like things are going to be just fine.

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Go Fish | Poland | 34:37

You can tell from frame one, that this is a confident, well made film. The set design is immaculate, the cinematography top-notch and the acting performances are nearly seamless. The film comes with a hard edge as it explores revenge, the struggle for power and the unintended consequences that can come as a result. Writer / directors Patrycjusz Kostyszyn and Katarzyna Samson have delivered an energetic, youthful film with a flair, a must see.

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Helio | United States | 19:50

This dystopian sci-fi action-adventure film is oozing with atmosphere and richly textured set design. Light on dialogue, the action sequences are the driving component of this ambitious short film from writer / director Teddy Cecil. The film is especially noteworthy for its breadth and scope of production, a rare feat in films of this program length. Many try, but few succeed whereas this film walks in the room like it owns the place. The film has had wide plays, and though a very familiar tale, one that is executed this well is always a welcome addition.

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Her First Black Guy | United States | 8:15

This cute short has a lot of fun turning expectations on their heads. Great performances across the board drive this energetic comedy directed by Sam Auster. Christopher T. Wood wrote and stars in the film, which, in our experience, is often a recipe for self-indulgence. Here instead, Mr. Wood, while giving a great performance himself, almost takes a back seat. In the process, he creates a fun and lively atmosphere that really showcases the assembled talent, which is top notch. And to top it all off, Mr. Wood even gives us a surprise visit from an unexpected guest.

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The Hook | United Kingdom | 10:20

This endearing comedy short from London based director Nick Flugge had our programming team laughing out loud. Lead actor Ed Caruana’s performance is absolutely wonderful and plays a perfect foil for fellow lead Christopher Sciueref’s deadpan boxing instructor. Flugge directs with a light touch and shines in the process, tidily wrapping this neat bundle of a film with aplomb. If this one doesn’t get you smiling, we can’t imagine what could.

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IamYou | United States | 12:10

Los Angeles writer and actor Paul Tracy has written a poignant, slice of life film in IamYou. Directed by Micah Van Hove, the film chronicles two down and out hustlers sharing their dreams. Mr. Tracy and fellow lead actress Presciliana Esparolini craft a touching, nuanced relationship with strong choices and great instincts. Mr. Van Hove’s intimate camera work and directorial style rounds out this tranquil dramatic piece nicely and leaves you wanting for more.

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I’m So Happy I Found You | United States | 11:51

This contained supernatural horror film makes great use of practical locations and lighting. Director Michael Starr creates a strong narrative with clever use of story and some great performances by the cast to drive the suspense, leaving the gore to the amateurs. A dark chill for the grown-ups, I’m So Happy I Found You is a creepy thriller that expands on the genre nicely and leaves you wondering.

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Islet | Tuvalu | 11:25

This innocent comedic short comes to us from the tiny island nation of Tuvalu, a SaMo Indie first! With an exclusively local cast, the film was shot in the capital city of Funafuti and features some surprising performances from the local performers. With a cute story line set against the back drop of what is apparently a very conservative community, Islet gives us a neat glimpse into a world that we probably never would have seen otherwise. A funny tale that’s almost like a mini-vacation to the South Seas, this is a film you won’t want to miss.

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Maintenance Required | United States | 15:03

Innovative and highly stylized, this wild film has character galore. Great costumes, excellent camera work and some superb story-telling combine to make this one of this season’s most unique presentations. At times romantic fantasy, at others, straight road trip comedy, this short, helmed by Spanish director JC Falcon, is a creative ride that abounds with some truly funny performances from a great cast and smiles for miles.

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Moon People | United States | 6:52

First-time director Alexandra Grace has created a beautiful, slice-of-life narrative that explores LGBTQ themes with a delicate touch and a lot of heart. The film steers clear of being preachy and instead paints a portrait of a loving couple and their relationship. The visuals sparkle, the message is clear and the love is in abundance. Moon People is a touching reflection on the changing social norms of gender and sexual identity.

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My Best Friend’s Death | United States | 15:18

Writer Justus Meyer and director Eric McCoy’s creative take on the buddy film genre brings the funny with strong dialogue and exemplary performances from the two leads. Taking huge liberties with the concept of death at the front door, My Best Friend’s Death is, at the end of the day, a really well crafted film. With great production design, seamless cinematography and with tongue firmly in cheek, these filmmakers remind us that life really is worth living.

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Neighborhoods | United States | 10:08

This urban drama focuses on the plight of marginalized Somali youth living in Minneapolis. The cinematography is stark, as are the snow covered Minnesota landscapes, and director Marcus Castillo expertly frames this short tale within that harsh environment. The story is simple and quiet, with the actors showing great depth by delivering strong performances across the board. All in all, Neighborhoods is a solidly built film that bodes well for this young filmmaker.

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Only For Forever | United States | 14:59

This student film from the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts tracks a petty-thief that finds herself in a budding romance with a suicidal girl from the other side of the proverbial tracks. The film cast two excellent actresses, Megan Sousa-Meyer and Kristina Mezhenskaya, who bring an honest, and seemingly effortless chemistry to the screen. Director Nia Imani makes the most of DP Che Espiritu’s free spirited camera work, weaving a strong dramatic narrative short that feels like a mature, well-rounded effort on all fronts.

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Palm Trees | United States | 6:58

SaMo Indie alumnus Diana Cignoni (Winner – Audience Choice Award – 2014) returns with a stunningly beautiful short film Palm Trees. Ms. Cignoni’s eye for dramatic visuals is once again showcased in this haunting, and very personal dramatic narrative. The poetic writing glides gently alongside the rich visual palettes and the impeccable design work, with the wonderful cinematography of Andria Chamberlin capturing it all perfectly. The film is the breathless and evocative work of a true auteur and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share it with you.

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Positive Visualization | United States | 3:05

This micro-short by directors Stirling McLaughlin and Wilder Konschak paints a quirky, fun little film in a tight time frame. Lead actor Rene Gube’s wonderful performance of writer Wilder Konschak’s fun dialogue combine to give lead actress Madeline Walter plenty of ammunition to effect her own “positive visualizations.” In the end, these talented filmmakers do more in three minutes than many do in thirty and they’re kind enough to give us a nice button at the end.

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School Zone | Australia | 11:24

Multiculturalism is at the center point of this short drama from Australia. Highlighting some of the more absurd notions that get paraded around under the banner of multiculturalism in public institutions, this film shows us that, behind the superficial qualities of clothing and skin color, kids will be kids and parents will be parents. The film is well shot, with some wonderful casting choices. The actors give some fun reads and give depth and heart to this solidly written piece directed by Barry Gamba.

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William Wilson | France | 13:18

This well-crafted film from Paris offers an interesting take on the Edgar Allen Poe short story of the same name. The surrealist costume and location choices are punctuated by the well structured cinematography of Florent Seree. The story takes a long stroll through a Parisian evening, stopping along the way to give us little glimpses into the world of the protagonist. In the end, the film stays true to its roots in Poe’s work and we see that often, our worst enemy is ourselves.

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You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory | United States | 19:59

This delightful short hailing from Brooklyn, New York opens with a great little visual hook and just gets better from there. Director Jack Kyser pulls off some exceptional filmmaking while exploring the deeply flawed character of Charlie, expertly portrayed by actor Mike Wesolowski. Cinematographer Benjamin Dewey shows off his formidable camera skills and helps shape Kyser’s vision with some pretty cool stuff. An NYU Tisch School thesis film, You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory is a true cinematic achievement and we can’t wait to see what comes next from this talented director.

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Animated Shorts

Late | United States | 1:31

This tiny little animated short is an absolute delight. Director Christi Bertelsen gives us a clever, quick witted and fun film that tells a snippet of a story with grace and simplicity. That she could do so in 91 seconds is a testament to both her ability as a story teller as well as her vision as an artist. This gem of a film has had wide plays to receptive audiences and we think it will be immediately evident why when you see it.

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Tick Tock | Turkey | 9:15

This adorable animated piece comes to us from Turkey. Director Zeynep Kocak has rendered a delightful little tale of an old man who seeks to reconnect with the world by renting out space in his small flat. In the end, the story shows that hope can be found where you often least expect it and that life is a journey worth taking.

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Documentary Features

Angel of Nanjing | United States | 69:56

Angel of Nanjing is a powerful documentary that follows Chen Si, a man who for the past 11 years has patrolled the Yangtze River Bridge in China. The bridge is a massive construction, which stands as a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of man. And yet, the bridge is perhaps most famous as the site of the most suicides in the world. Chen Si embarked on a journey to help stem the tide and in the process lays bare what it really means to be human and part of this grand experiment that is mankind. With humility and grace, Jordan Horowitz has captured a nuanced and beautiful film, which highlights both the heroism of Mr. Si, as well as the terrible toll his journey has exacted upon him. We are honored to be able to share this wonderful documentary with you.

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Truth Has Fallen | United States | 60:12

Director Sheila M. Sofian has created a stirring documentary that chronicles the lives of three people who were wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit. The film employs a mixture of live action and hand painted animation to shed light on these harrowing tales and the devastating effects that can and do result from some of the deep flaws within the United States criminal justice system. Ms. Sofian delivers the film with a compassionate touch and offers real solutions that could make an enormous difference in a country that imprisons more of its population that any other on the planet. As Sir William Blackstone so eloquently stated over 250 years ago, “Better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.” Truth Has Fallen lays bare the fact that we still have a long way to go in our jurisprudence.

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Documentary Shorts

2.5% – The Osa Peninsula | United States | 40:47

This multi-layered documentary gleans the first part of its name from the fact that this tiny peninsula in Costa Rica accounts for 2.5% of all global biodiversity. As with nearly all of the countries in Central and South America, there is an on-going struggle between environmentalists, the disenfranchised and marginalized local populations and powerful moneyed interests that seek to exploit the rich lands for various schemes. In this particular case, an international airport is contemplated, trotted out with the familiar tropes about job creation and opportunity. Yet, within this rich documentary, director Eytan Elterman makes a compelling case for more sustainable approaches to this delicate ecosystem, that balance the needs of environmental protection with the needs of the local community. With themes that resonate well beyond the borders of Costa Rica, 2.5% – The Osa Peninsula is an important film that we are excited to share with our community.

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SaMo INDIE Honorable Mentions 2015

Honorable Mentions – Complete List

ALL IN HER STRIDE

Sarah’s Room

Laura

Texting: A Love Story

The Origins of Wit & Humor

The Blue Sound of New York

Date Stories

Scaremonger

The Diner

The World of Albert Fuh

Tell Me What You Feel

The Adventures of Paul and Marian

Professor Isle’s Laboratory

OUR HEALING JOURNEY

The Way Things Are

#blessed

Tiny Out Loud

Echoes of Time

Story of MI

The Loonies (WebL)

The River

WRITTEN BY MRS BACH

Our Food Chain

Day Release

More of Last Night

Speedwriting

Oh Crappy Day

Policy of Truth

The Bench Project (Short Film Series)

Last Curtain Call

Falling to Pieces

THE STORY OF A WOMAN

Wong Ka Yan (Where are you)

The Path

Une Libération

Merry Misery

Greece

Revision

JUNE

Masterless

Comic Potential

Awaken

Family Unit

ONE HUNDRED MULES

Nothing With Something: Death of a Diner

Hurt

I’ll Take Care of You

Laberinto en Espiral (Spiral Labyrinth)

Saturn Saved Me

Peng! Snowman

I Like to Paint Monsters

Jim Bird: Portrait of an American

The Unexplored

Nursery Rhyme

Slide

Xenos

Jimbo

Doreen Brownstone: Still Working After 90

Inside Peace

Intoxicate

Harry, Being with You

Heyln Springs

Exposure Therapy

FIREBIRD

My Mayim

White Waves

The Hotel Dieu

The Wonderpill

Redemption of a broken mind

Dogmouth

TRENT

Leben In Vienna

Boat Love

Rapid Eye Movement

The Adventures of Shelby

Circle of Life

Real Live Angels

A Chance To Dress

The Sinking of Sozopol

Drawing a Blank

A Wheel Out Of Kilter

Lost Cause

WORK SUCKS!

Evolution of a Mural

Kittens in a Cage

Hollywood Mouth 2

Parallax

Beyond Evil

The Dangle

Missed Call

Blathering

Arthur

The Day West Shook Texas

100 Dresses For Christmas

Trapped

Morningside

Saving John Murphy

Get Dead

Us and Them

A Meeting of the Minds

Cutest Couple 2007

Two Brothers

Reconnection

Black and White

Breaking Point

Journey to a Miracle: Freedom from Insulin

ART BASTARD

MOVIESTAR*

The Tricycle

Will I Scatter Away?

Lone Hunter

Mine

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