dir-scr Marley Morrison; with Nell Barlow, Jo Hartley 21/UK ****.
Packed with jaggedly witty observations, this British comedy gets into the mind of a teen who thinks her life couldn't get any worse. Writer-director Marley Morrison tells a hugely engaging story about a character brought to vivid life by gifted actor Nell Barlow. The pacing may meander in the middle, but this is a breathtaking feature debut, and one of the most astute movies about adolescence in recent memory... FULL REVIEW >
dir-scr Phil Connell; with Cloris Leachman, Thomas Duplessie 20/Can ****.
This comedy-drama centres on a luminous, no-nonsense performance from the late Cloris Leachman, a lead role that feels like a gift. Writer-director Phil Connell tells an engaging story about people who find inspiration at opposite ends of their lives. While invoking the spirit of Hedwig as these defiant people refuse to be put into boxes, this is a complex celebration of how empowering it is to be honest with yourself... FULL REVIEW >
Boy Meets Boy
dir Daniel Sanchez Lopez; with Matthew J Morrison, Alexis Koutsoulis 21/Ger ****
Freeform filmmaking adds earthy authenticity to this German drama, which follows two young men over 15 hours. Filmmaker Daniel Sanchez Lopez assembles this mainly in visceral closeup, seemingly shot on a phone camera as characters take a loosely meandering journey. The approach gives the film a striking sense of intimacy. So if the plot feels thin, the attractive actors and sparky subtext make this worth a look... FULL REVIEW >
dir-scr Brielle Brilliant; with Tim Kinsella, Allex Jording 21/US ****
Drenched in New Mexico sunshine, this offbeat drama takes a refreshingly open-handed approach that's easy to engage with. With her first feature, writer-director Breille Brilliant takes a premise that could easily seem a bit creepy and makes it something affirming and almost inspirational in the way it celebrates the wonderful variety in human expression. It's a disarmingly gentle film that challenges us without even a moment of preachiness... FULL REVIEW >
dir Peeter Rebane; with Tom Prior, Oleg Zagorodnii 21/Est ****
Based on a true story, this Cold War drama traces a romantic triangle in a Russian military setting. Director Peeter Rebane keeps the focus on the characters as they navigate a perilous situation, pulling the audience into the story. This adds vivid personal emotions to the visually stylised filmmaking, and also adds wider resonance. Some earthy grit might have helped, but the film is strongly engaging and very moving... FULL REVIEW >
Potato Dreams of America
dir-scr Wes Hurley; with Tyler Bocock, Marya Sea Kaminski 21/US ****
Heavily stylised and hugely imaginative, this coming-of-age story unfolds with offbeat insight and witty observations. Expanding on his 2017 short doc Little Potato, writer-director Wes Hurley depicts his own experiences with cleverly inventive imagery, using a mix of stage-like sets and real-world locations. And the sparky characters are full of life, adding to the film's brisk pace and warm-hearted approach to topics that shouldn't actually be controversial at all... FULL REVIEW >
I've also caught up with a few Outfest shorts at other festivals...
- Pure (Natalie Jasmine Harris 21/US) ****
- Eden (Sven Spur 20/Bel) ****
- Bodies of Desire (Varsha Panikar & Saad Nawab 21/Ind) ****
- Pool Boy (Luke Willis 21/US) ****
- The Night Train (Jerry Carlsson 20/Swe) ****
For more information: OUTFEST