The RIFF is exhibiting over 120 ground breaking films from all over the world this weekend at four different venues. Check the website for showings, locations, and ticket information. Some of the exceptional films today included documentaries and short films screened at the Historic Byrd Theater. One of the ‘must see’ films today was a documentary, Sewing Hope.
The thought provoking and inspirational documentary is written and directed by Derek Watson and narrated by Forest Whitaker. The film centers on Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe and her vocational school where she educates locals as well as the women, teens, and children that were kidnapped as children by the Joseph Kony regime, forced into sex slavery and/or made to work as soldiers that have returned to Gulu, Uganda seeking a new life.
Joseph Kony and his vicious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) terrorized Northern Uganda for twenty-five years. The LRA systematically and ruthlessly took children from their families, for the purpose of brainwashing them and turning them into subservient and ruthless child soldiers, or sex slaves for the regime, and often killing those left behind. These kidnapped children were abused, and forced to do unspeakable acts against their families and other Ugandans.
Sister Rosemary humbly leads the way to helping these children, now women or teens, and their children to recovery, restoring their dignity, independence, and hope by teaching them basic life skills and vocations to support themselves. In captivity, these survivors never learned basic skills of living and only knew trauma of killing and other horrific living conditions. In spite of her own harrowing circumstances, Sister Rosemary is an inspiration to all she teaches through her strength, loving-kindness, and skills. Definitely a ‘must-see’ if you get the chance in a theater. The film is also currently available on Netflix and Amazon. Color, 53 minutes, in English and Ugandan with English subtitles.
SHORT FILMS REVIEWED
Will of Fortune (USA) is a dramatic short with an interesting premise; What if one disagrees with the criminal justice system and criminal rehabilitation? Is there recourse?
Directed by Chloe Bellande, and starring Shannon Spangler, Fabian A. Williams III, and Stacy Ayn Price, and their very talented cast mates, the film was inspired by true events. It is a crime drama about a secret society called the Legion of Law. The society meets to discuss a murder and the parole for the murder. It has a parallel running story of a hired assassin hired to exact justice. Overall, it was interesting, and a little challenging to follow at times. However, the story line is intriguing and the action well thought out. One needs to know the premise prior to seeing it to follow the story. There are some very talented actors to look for in the future, and the director takes some well calculated risks. Color, 18 minutes, in English, not for children.
Imagine (USA) is a dramatic short film directed by Jonathan Steven Green, and starring Scott Wolf, Melissa Deppe, and Danya Craner. The story explores the idea of “What if we could change the water structure in our bodies?” An interesting idea, and yet what is on screen is convoluted at times in what appears to be an attempt for a ‘big reveal’. Although it is clear the director and actors are extremely talented, the story line seems to fall flat in that it is not clear and concise enough to make the impact it may have intended. Color, 30 minutes, English.
Sie Heisst Jetzt Lotte! (Call Her Lotte!) (Germany) is a dramatic short film directed and written by Annekathrin Wetzel and starring Lola Dockhorn, Maria Ehrich, and Peter Kollmann.
The film takes a deep look into the lives of two long-time female friends, one Jewish and one not, prior to and the beginning of events of WWII and the Nazi regime in Germany. It explores the relationship of these two women, and the challenges they encounter in maintaining their friendship in the face of incomprehensible adversity and tragedy. The cinematography, direction, and acting are indicative of extremely talented and well learned people of film-making craft. The heart retching tale plays out seamlessly. Color, 17 minutes, in German with English subtitles.
Des Eclats De Verre (France) is a dramatic short directed by Fouad Benhammou, and starring Jemima West, Nicolas Marie, Pierre Benezit, and Mae Colombe.
The film follows Sandra, a woman with a conflicted relationship with her father. Although the relationship started out loving and accepting when she was a child, her father does not accept her choices for a relationship as an adult, and no longer wants to have a relationship with her. Sandra decides to confront him in person. The acting is above board and direction seems to drive this piece. The cinematography and seamless editing assist the story along, as only truly adept people in this field can do. The timing of subtitles and speaking is very rapid, so if you are not a fast reader and/or not a French speaker, you may have a challenge following the film. Color, 17 minutes, in French with English subtitles.
The festival plays through March 1st at many venues. For information on locations, schedules, and tickets, please contact the Richmond International Film Festival.