high priority, of those 24 films I caught 15 of them. In order to give a fair amount of coverage to the 15 films viewed across five (5) days, I've broke my festival coverage down by day(s) including a brief review of each feature.
BLACK COAL, THIN ICE (BAI RI YAN HUO)
directed by Diao Yinan
Director and screenwriter Diao Yinan makes atmosphere a priority in Black Coal, Thin Ice. He's concentrated on submersing his audience in the desperation of his murder mystery. The wintry setting easily allows for the bleak narrative to feel icy, while the pulpy plot points and grieved characters compound the thriller into a stinging tale. Fan Liao is excellent as the shamed detective hellbent on solving the case that cost him his career. Opposite Fan Liao's cutting performance, Lun Mei Gwei delivers a studious portrayal of a woman stuck in a very unfortunate situation.
The Chinese title to Black Coal, Thin Ice is "Daylight Fireworks," something director Dia Yinan has stated helps to explain the "difference between reality and fantasy." The American title reflects something real that plays a role in the film, while the Chinese title reflects something fantastic that plays out in the film. The director believes that these two sides together are a way to highlight "what we use to coat ourselves from the cruel side of this real world." The director's explanation of the two titles and how they explain fantasy and reality are ultimately two sides of the same coin is widely engaging. Match that with seeing the film run its course and you have a nice example of my enthusiasm with culture perspective that comes in foreign cinema. Finally, there's plenty of appreciation in the fact Black Coal, Thin Ice while being a recognizable and stirring noir thriller, also delivers a riveting portrait from a pocket of society I might not have otherwise seen.
directed by Joel Potrykus
directed by Jason Banker
The social drama directed by Jason Banker has plenty to say about trust and intentions within the day-to-day relationships we have in our lives. Everything from friendships to dating. There is a honest and approachable independence on display, but also a very tangible threat of breakdown. Felt uses real-life art that mimics the male form, allowing Amy to take on traditional supremacy or hierarchy associated with it. The suit is used in multiple impending sequences that serve as a mechanism to cope with the trauma haunting Amy. The result is a passionately piercing piece of art that callously flips the rape context. Felt is tell all your friends good. It is the kind of film that will leave you talking and deservedly needs your attention.
That's a wrap on my coverage from Day Four at AFI FEST 2014. Here's my coverage from Day One (here), Day Two (here), and Day Three (here) in case you missed it. Stay tuned for more from AFI FEST 2014...