Stars: Natalie Cadieux and Dakota Battle
As if Wish Inc and Paranoia weren't enough presence for Arizona Filmmaker of the Year, Diane Dresback, at the Phoenix Film Festival (she directed the former and wrote the latter, as well as producing both), she served as the executive producer on this film too. That's understandable, given that it was directed by her son, Devon Dresback, who is apparently taking a leaf out of her book and getting prolific: this is only one of three films he wrote and directed in 2011. Another film that was part of an IFP challenge, the Breakout Film Challenge, it picked up a cupboard full of awards, winning for Best Film, over Awesome Guy: A New Identity, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Emerging Actor for 12 year old Dakota Battle. Given that it focuses on two characters, that's a win for both of them. It wasn't just the IFP judges: in his Phoenix Film Festival roundup of Arizona Shorts, William Pierce, film critic at examiner.com, called it 'the best short film of 2011'.
|This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in Scottsdale in 2012. Here's an index to my reviews of 2012 films.|
All this makes me wonder what I missed. I enjoyed it but it didn't stun me like it seems to have stunned others. It should be available online sometime in 2013 after its festival screenings, so I'll make a note to track it down and watch again to see if it grows. It could be that it suffered a little from an unfortunate slot in the selection: last but one in a long list of good films, following the bubbly Wish Inc and preceding only Parallax, the film that many were waiting for and which won for Best Arizona Short Film. It's a far more subtle piece than the bright and colourful Wish Inc so it may have faded a little as a follow up. It also doesn't have the epic feel, strong characters or special effects of Parallax, which sucked in its audience for a 22 minute ride that overrode the 6 minute film before it. It's really about an idea, one which I felt was too obvious, though that may well be less a judgement of the film and more of why Dresback felt it had to be made.
It centres around the wisdom imparted by a Teutonic teacher to her young audience after she realises that she's losing them. They're bored, painfully so, and she combats that boredom by taking them outside to talk about life. Nathalie Cadieux is excellent as the teacher, even though she's from Montreal not Munich and has far more experience on stage than she does on screen. What she tells them is the sort of thing you might see laid over a graphic that people circulate on Facebook, but it's not trite or cutesy. It's a very valid commentary on risk, notably important in the 'won't you think of the children' America of today, which makes me wonder if the decision to go with a very German teacher was a copout in setting like V for Vendetta or a subtle comment on immigration and diversity. This is all well done, if a little dry, but the emotion is reserved for what happens when it starts to rain. Carpe diem. Devon Dresback obviously has.