REVIEW: Annual festival shows top-notch indie films

by Steven Young

Last week, the Fargo Film Festival brought nearly 100 films from around the country to the area.

“Kaleidoscope,” a brief, psychadelic piece of animation, hit the screen Thursday. The film follows a bland man who’s been deserted in the middle of nowhere. He comes across an eye globe that brings color and kaleidoscopic effects to his life, revealing secrets around him. While I found it obscure, it was one of my favorites simply because of its creative animation.

Contrastingly, “Birthday” and “Long Way Down” explored more depressing topics.

“Birthday” was about a soldier losing his legs at war. When he returns home, he and his wife are forced to grapple with the drastic change. While bleak, the film is memorable for its sparse dialogue and narrative driven by genuine performances.

“Long Way Down,” though more humorous, deals with someone wanting to commit suicide. Humor is found in the character’s sardonic guardian angel trying to convince him not to do it. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did “Birthday,” but the film featured some great acting and captivating shots.

“Welcome” and “Without” were notable foreign language films from the festival.

“Without,” about a man living with alcoholism in an Italian village, has the character coming to a revelation by the end of the film. While not the most original idea, it was a good length, with its performances and direction well-executed. Not a true Italian film, being from New York, it still accurately and admirably portrayed Italian culture without considerable stereotyping.

“Jacob Stone” and “Two Films About Loneliness” were interesting in different ways.

“Jacob Stone” discussed racism, tough decisions, regret and redemption. Well-acted and excellently directed and produced, this film stood out to me.

My favorite of the festival, “Two Films About Loneliness,” a split-screen claymation short, had fantastic voice work and direction that left me wanting more.

The festival’s sixteenth year presented a great selection of films. Needless to say, I left satisfied.

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