In Part 1 of my round up, I talked about a few of the SXSW films that while weren’t perfect, I still found myself enjoying in one way or another. They were the hit or misses. In this part, I’m talking about a few of my favourites. These are the films that made an impact on me, and that I can definitely see receiving acknowledgement come next year’s awards season.
The Fallout / Dir. Megan Park
I feel like there isn’t a lot to say about this film that hasn’t already been said. The Fallout is an honest and beautifully executed film that resists the “intense tearjerker” trap that so many films like it fall into. As a born and raised Canadian, gun control is something that I’ve never had to think too much about. I’m thankful that I’ve never had to experience the fear of watching a movie in theatres or sitting in a classroom, and I can’t imagine how frustrated the youth of America must feel living under a government that blatantly ignores the problem. The Fallout is the second film this year to deal with the subject of school shootings; the first being Mass, which had its premiere at Sundance and is sure to be a contender come next year’s awards season. It’s a delicate topic that both films handle well, but in different ways. The Fallout packs a punch, but still finds a way to let a bit of light and human moments shine through. We follow Vada (Jenna Ortega, The Babysitter: Killer Queen), who’s life is altered in the aftermath of a school shooting. She begins to form unexpected bonds with the classmates who went through the same trauma, while her relationship with her family starts to struggle. The Fallout has a lot of heart, a powerful final message, and Jenna Ortega’s performance is sure to move you.
The Spine of Night / Dir. Philip Gelatt, Morgan Galen King
The Spine of Night is easily one of my favourites of the festival. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep appreciation for animation, and something so oddly specific about the style of animation in this movie gives me such a bold feeling of nostalgia. I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on it, but I digress. The Spine of Night follows characters from all different eras and cultures as they try to protect their world from an ancient power that has fallen into evil hands. It’s violent and blood-soaked, and something we rarely see in animation. The closest thing I can think to compare it to is Heavy Metal, an ultra-dark animated movie from 1981 that I watched with my dad when I was younger. Much like in Heavy Metal, The Spine of Night is split up into different stories and segments; essentially, it’s an entire season of Game of Thrones packed into 90 minutes. If you’re a fan of animation or dark fantasy, The Spine of Night is one you’ll definitely want to watch out for.
Ninjababy / Dir. Yngvild Sve Flikke
Ninjababy was the very last SXSW film I watched, and the one that caught me completely (and pleasantly) by surprise. Ninjababy is a Norwegian film that finds Rakel (Kristine Thorp), a directionless woman in her early 20s, pregnant after a one-night stand. We follow her through a series of life-changing decisions, meeting eccentric and likeable characters and a stick-figure drawing that continuously comes to life off the page to irritate Rakel, along the way. I knew very little about this film going into it, but coming out, found myself loving and wanting nothing but the best for these quirky and realistically flawed characters. Ninjababy is an honest look at the subject of unwanted pregnancies, yet always finds a way to balance it’s humour and heart. This is one film that I can’t wait to rewatch upon it’s official release.