2. Compliance – Maybe one of the most divisive films to ever play at the film fest. It was one of my favorites but many people found it boring. The story of how a person pretending to be a police officer convinced fast food workers to sexually assault one of the workers. Many people found it unbelievable but it is based on events that actually happened and with that in mind it makes the film all that more disturbing.
3. Mea Maxima Culpa – The first of many documentaries on this list. This won the Audience Award in 2012 and deservedly so. The documentary focused on the sexual assoults by a priest at St John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis. With a story that hits close to home and the director and some of the film’s subjects in attendance this was a screening that I am glad I attended.
4. The Interrupters – Another documentary with some of the subjects in attendance. This one was about The Interrupters who are a group of people (mostly former gang members) who try to stop violence before it happens. They are some amazing people with incredible back stories out on the streets putting themselves in danger to stop the violence. A very moving documentary.
5. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – Finally getting to one of my favorite Midnight Movies I saw at the festival. The most movies I ever saw in a single day at a film festival is 5. And this was the 5th movie at the end of a long day. But it was worth it. Sometimes it gets late and I start drifting to sleep but not with this movie. It had the laughs and it had the gore. One of my favorite horror comedies of all time.
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin- Looking at my list you would get the impression I like dark and disturbing movies. And you would be right. This is another movie that I found very disturbing and have not be able to watch again. It is a story of a mother who has to deal with the fallout after her son went on a rampage at school and killed a bunch of students. While there were things I didn’t like about the movie the fact that it affected me so much give it a place on this list.
7. The Act of Killing – When Werner Herzog recommends a documentary you go and see it. The Act of Killing was produced by Herzog and Errol Morris both talented documentarians but this was the first film from Joshua Oppenheimer. The movie looks at the Indonesian genocide from the view of the victors. The question the movie poses is “What happens when the bag guys win?” And the truth is they are proud of the torture and massacres. They are so proud that they are willing to reenact their heinous crimes with glee. Yup another haunting documentary.
8. Metropolis – One of the coolest things at the festival is their silent films with live music accompanying it. I had seen Metropolis before but never on the big screen with live music. It’s like a movie and a concert in one. Plus the movie holds up. Metropolis was way ahead of its time as evident by all the recent lovers in a dystopian society movies.
9. The Imitation Game – When a movie ends plays at the festival then goes on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars you know the Festival is doing a good job picking movies. While this was an Oscar frontrunner from the beginning it was great to see it at the festival before it was released wide. This is one of those movies that you see for bragging rights.
10. Buried – Another movie that split the audience. The movie I like to describe as Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes was a great piece of storytelling. But some found it boring and claustrophobic. But I feel this is Ryan Reynolds best movie to date.
11. The Impostor – The Impostor was one of the strangest documentaries I have ever seen. Not so much disturbing as just bizarre. The story of a man who says he was kidnapped from America and the family that takes him in as their long lost family member. The movie is structured with interviews of the people involved and reenactments. While the title of the movie hints at the twist in the movie there are several twists that still come up. At the end of the movie you will be left scratching your head and asking who was lying and who was telling the truth.
12. Best Worst Movie / Troll 2 – A two for one showing. Best Worst Movie is about how Troll 2 became a huge cult hit for being a bad movie. It’s a fun look at fandom and the people involved in the filming of a bad movie that embrace the cult status. Of course after watching a movie about a movie it’s great to see the movie they have been talking about.
13. V/H/S - A great horror film to watch with a group of friends in the theatre. An anthology film made up of 4 short found footage horror films with a main story tying them together. While each short wasn’t great the overall effect of the movie leaves you breathless.
14. Short Term 12 – Sometimes a short that plays at the festival comes back as a feature film. That is what happened with Short Term 12. While I didn’t see the short I was lucky enough to see the feature length film. The movie played at one of the secret screenings (it pays to be a member) and was sadly overlooked by Oscars. The movie about troubled teens in a treatment facility had some great acting especially by Brie Larson.
15. The Jeffrey Dahmer Files – I couldn’t complete my list without one movie from the Cream City Cinema program. The Jeffrey Dahmer Files is pretty much what it sounds like, a documentary about Jeffrey Dahmer. But what sets this movie apart is that the focus isn’t so much on Dahmer himself but those that were affected by him. Interviews with his neighbor and the detective that interrogated him gave a different perspective than we had seen in other documentaries about Dahmer. Again it was good to have the director of the movie and the detective in attendance to answer questions afterward.