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Reviews

Planchette
(2018)

We can never be sure of how fate turns the table for us when we least expect it.
Life and death might look trivial to most of us. A retrospective along these lines would most probably make us ponder over almost forgotten events of the past and leave us with a cathartic release, most of the time. Yet some of us would never know what lies beyond death. The mysteries of what lies beyond has often left us anguished, but what we have learned most importantly is that these events are conjured up through an amalgamation of our consciousness. They are bold, unclear and that is what makes it so uncanny and mysterious. . A Planchette which is French for "little prank" is often used to summon spirits. Those who perform the rituals of fostering communication with spirits use "the Planchette" as a form of a medium. The spirits are then subjected to confrontation and questioning by the members of the group who believe they will get the answers to their questions about their longings, their fate or sometimes to have a little fun. This film deals with how the rendezvous of a family and their engagement with the planchette, which takes an eventful turn with unforgettable incidents that leave an everlasting impression on most of the members of this family.

The story revolves around the key cast including Basabdutta playing the role of "Lilydi", and Priam portraying "Bhoothnath", where we see how even after death some connections don't forfeit. The story's emphasis is on the distinct role of one's unfulfilled desires that they are associated with. The questions of the past and the future hover around along the whole stretch of the film. But one cannot be sure of what comes next. The story of Lily and Priam is one that comprises of a leap of faith that Priam took to help Lily achieve salvation. . We can never be sure of how fate turns the table for us when we least expect it. We live our lives in anticipation as to how to achieve the plots of and conquer the sole standing unfathomable death. The story has all the uncanny elements that one should expect in a mystery film. It is paced when and the music and sound effects complement each and every part of the film. Nonetheless, the story could have been far more stretched and detailed in its storytelling. The story is laced with emotional releases and forms of satire are also seen through and through.

All in all, the main message of this film is that ulterior motive of one's life is to leave a legacy and try to exit all means of attachment. It concerns every point in our lives that we try to bend to form roads of our desirable shapes and sizes. But no one escapes fate's hands and faces the wrath of that which has been wrongly done. Be it paranormal or in real life, we all owe ourselves the questions of existence but not to harm any other sentiments. We live in through our memories and that is enough. Review by Nabadipa Talukder/Cult Critic/CICFF

Destiny
(2018)

A short and sweet tale which remains true to its roots and presents a glimpse into the world of online dating in India
A short and sweet tale which remains true to its roots and presents a glimpse into the world of online dating in India, Destiny opens on a happy note but refuses to play by the book. Like any good rom-com, it comes with a serendipitous twist in the end following a quest for love, but unlike most, its ending is a bit unconventional.

With an impeccable grasp on the human mind and modern love, filmmaker Vikkramm Chandirramani paints a pretty scathing picture of dating gone wrong, but not so grim as to make you lose all faith in the institution of love. The conclusion resounds with and reaffirms the idea that everything happens for a reason, and all of it will have been worth something in the end. By doing so, it also shines a critical light on several pertinent problems arising out of such a ruthless dating culture that pits men and women against each other, in a contest for love. . The film with its vibrant and well-lit aesthetic opens with a conversation that all women have partaken in at some point in their lives. Tanya and Richa are twenty-somethings who seem educated, fun-loving and hailing from the urban upper class, exchanging a light-hearted conversation about recent developments in the former's love life.

Nikita Vijayvargia's Tanya is ecstatic to have matched with Derek on a dating site, whom she went out with a couple of times and has decided was "the one". Irrevocably smitten by her "perfect" catch, Richa confesses about her feelings to her closest friend and confidante Richa (played by Monika Panwar), who later becomes her partner-in-crime when it transpires that Derek is up to no good. The camaraderie between the two women holds the film together in the absence of Derek, who is pushed to the sidelines by these two power brands. . Unable to accept his loss of interest in her, Tanya plays the sleuth, stalker and prankster all at once, when she decides to teach him a lesson, for hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Although the motivation for it may seem a little misplaced, considering how rampant and widely accepted ghosting has become among millennials, especially those who regularly use online dating apps and websites. Tanya's plight should be sympathized with, even if her mission for vengeance borders on obsession which Richa is wary about.

The film keeps the tone and its bilingual dialogues colloquial and recognizable, and its pace brisk-with fast cuts to and from places. As we hop from one cafe to another with Derek, who having fallen for Tanya's fake profiles is getting stood up every time, we feel quite sorry for him by the end. Played by a charming Bhupendra Singh Jadawat, Derek, as it turns out, was simply looking for a more spontaneous and real love. And that is perhaps why her plan leads to a happy ending, not for herself but for Derek. Although, without Tanya's malice and her elaborate plans to exact revenge, he may never have stumbled (literally) across it! . Smart and no-frills performances by the lead actors are matched by a neat directorial vision, competent execution and attractive mise-en-scene. The cinematography is on point, in keeping with the low-key urban, upper class aesthetic, and editing stitches these vignettes together, giving Tanya and Derek's quest for love a cohesive form.

In the end, viewers are left pondering upon the nature of online dating, and how difficult it is to actually meet the love of your life on a platform that automates you to act a certain way and expect certain preordained things. In the end, it's perhaps best to enjoy the experience and let things take their course. Chandiraramani's film manages to convey all of this with a slice from what could very well real life, with a pinch of humor, tough luck and a classic case of tables being turned. . Review by Prarthana Mitra

The Oak Tree
(2018)

The short's premise is basic: a man has to cchooseeither between the village's faith or his trade.
The beauty of films like The Oak Tree is that they deliver a compelling story while teaching an important lesson and giving you a choice, while providing a solid resolution. Surely, many people in today's world grew up in some sort of religious background. Many of us had grandmothers, mothers or aunts who had strange beliefs and customs we made fun of as kids but grew fond of and possibly even adopted as adults. In our youth, around teenage years, we lived through some sort of revolution, that either brought us closer to those customs or diverged us from them entirely. Masterfully, Jahan's film tells a very similar story. The short's premise is basic: a man has to cchooseeither between the village's faith or his trade. But as we move along the story with the protagonist, Fadel, we discover that it's not only about what he believes, but also about what the others believe in and about what others can pressure into him. Here he has a choice between a customer who trusted him and a village who wants to worship a tree, that in their right, has been marked by angels. Like a teenager, Fadel is faced with a choice - either his go with faith or lose it, entirely. I won't reveal much about the end of the film, but suffice it to say - it leaves you both satisfied and questioning. Possibly due to Ghazi Rabihavi's simple, yet charming and sophisticated writing that this ending comes to us in acceptance.

Many man versus faith stories fail to deliver, especially those presented on small screen, but Rabihavi manages to focus our attention to accentuate our own journey through faith. Even if you never experienced a spiritual crisis, the presentation of The Oak Tree will make you understand exactly what kind of feeling it is and why is it so important to humanity as a whole. Rabihavi also shows other interesting personal dilemmas, such as choosing your way over tradition, being peer pressured and staying sane, when others might view you as a little crazy. Those minute things tied together make for a wonderful story. The second biggest praise should go to Ethan Jahan, who directed this wonderful short. The vision he had for his film is clear and concise, helping Rabihavi's story become much more than just a page in another book of faith. It is through his talent at delivering emotion to the screen through lighting, cinematography and acting direction that we see a story develop. Keeping in mind that this is just a short film, we may expect great things from Ethan Jahan in the future.

The third most important part of this story is the cast. All of the people who worked on this film are phenomenal, truly developing simplistic, yet charming characters and gracing the screen with their large presence. It is a shame that most short film actors are often neglected and forgotten, especially those who come from international waters. It is our duty, then, to recognize these people and give them praise when it's due. This film may not be "acting Olympics" and it may have a simple heart, but it wouldn't be half as beautiful if it didn't have these guys starring it in. All actors in the film delivered wonderful performances and it would be an utter shame for them to be forgotten.

Overall, this was a wonderful little film that deserves acclaim and recognition. Sure, it is a simple story, but it's extremely relatable and told in a fashion that is new, yet close enough to home to hit us all. After all, even years later, we must remember our roots - this film serves exactly that. Reviewed by Rimute Terra Budreviciute/Cult Critic/CICFF

Heavy Rain
(2018)

The movie is thrillingly intense, with a level of violence that will surprise you.
I remember pretty well that I have not seen a short movie like this on television, and reviewing a compact film with good acting, sound and story and direction makes me feel privileged. Heavy Rain, by Motaz Elbahaey, is an extremely well-directed film with the main theme of revenge.

This story is about a boy, young and confident, who seeks revenge against his father. Because of the uncommon plot, I won't provide too much information about the movie - it is interesting, worth watching and I want you to watch it, too. So, let's keep the suspense burning inside your mind. The lead character plays a strong role in the movie. An 18-year-old Marty is in his last year of high school and he's an artistic guy who doesn't care much about sports. He plays the guitar and he is very close to his mother. The way Marty justified his character and showed love for his mother is truly heart-rending.

The director tried to mix the essentials of the genre with some picks that might be less familiar to you. Of course, he didn't have space for everything, so he tried to develop the story in a very clean way. In a matter of a few minutes, the story is already well-understood and it has a more straightforward narrative than some of the crime pictures of this period. The movie is thrillingly intense, with a level of violence that will surprise you.

The most interesting part of this film that struck me when I started my review is the title; it is a clever personification. Heavy rain in a negative way represents ruthless, inconsiderate, uncaring iciness. So, it has a great similarity with the character in the story, especially since it was raining at the time when the crime took place. The performances of various characters are impeccable throughout the movie and the main theme of revenge develops later on, keeping the necessary tension simmering. The plot is interestingly even-handed and not afraid to suggest that the spilling of blood will have the real power to heal Marty's emotions. Even though the film is a tragedy, the behavior of Marty gets justified in a certain way. The ending was 99% well-directed and no one will ever guess that this is a student movie, because of its amazing appeal and matureness. Doug Haley took on the complex role of Marty, which is both realistic and emotional, wrestling with sadness as he wants to beat his father up. Marty is torn between conflicting emotions; even though he was raised to respect his father, he still feels a strong need to take revenge on him. Jonathan Cripple in the role of Fred, the alcoholic father of Marty, was fantastic in portraying the negative role. Estella Volturo as Tessa may be the child star but she has also proved to be an excellent actress in her portrayal of the protagonist's sister.

Samantha Romero was impressive in her role of a 19-year-old girl Laura from an upper-middle-class family; average height, well-proportioned and slender with a softly and kind face. She met Marty in high school and her character formed a life-changing friendship with Marty. She was able to convincingly convey what it's like to protect your first true friend. Overall, the actors did a fine job in making the story come alive with their performances which were intense and mature beyond their experience. Reviewed by Riya Saha/Cult Critic/CICFF

Elvis Walks Home
(2017)

Mickey, an Elvis impersonator, running towards that light at the end of the tunnel.
Efore writing about the movie specifically, I'd like to give some insight. I come from a country that just loves making war movies, so naturally, I've become fed up with them. All that melodrama and pure depression these movies emit transformed into a tiresome watching experience - one after another, they were all the same no matter what side you picked. And here I am now, reviewing a war movie that takes place in the same exact war - the Balkan War. You can imagine when I read the summary what went through my mind. To put it nicely, I sighed, scratched my messy hair and said to myself: "Ok, let's just get over with this". And boy was I surprised when the first 10 minutes went by. I turned from being a skeptic to a "hey, this might actually be good" type of person. Sometimes, being wrong can truly feel good. Elvis Walks Home by Fatmir Koci is a story of a man who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine escaping a hell-hole in hope of finding a better life just so the same hope brings you back to the same hell-hole - an unlucky turn of events to say the least. The basic summary is set within first few minutes and this provides two things for the viewer. First, it perfectly sets the stage by making everything clear. Second, it brings up an entirely new bag of questions enticing the viewer to stay for more. Because where can a man go when the only thing that surrounds him is everything he tried so hard to escape from?

Throughout the movie we follow Mickey, an Elvis impersonator, running towards that light at the end of the tunnel. More so, he doesn't see the light, he's merely hoping there is one and in order to find out the only thing left to do is to run. In this low-stake journey, he encounters people that basically fall in two categories: people he doesn't want to meet and people he really doesn't want to meet. When you think about it, it's not something you'd call a pleasant journey. It's interesting how the Koci managed to strike that weird balance between a classic war movie that's bound to put a weight on your heart and a light comedy. As the story moves one you're aware the plot takes place in a country immersed in war, but there's constantly this subtle feeling everything is just a well-told joke. To be clear, this is a good thing as it brings something fresh and something we don't see all that much. Often it's one way or the other, rarely it's a machine that works on both engines and manages to do it quite well.

Most likely, one of the reasons this works are actors. From the children to the UN soldiers - all of them play their role perfectly, allowing the story to breed at full lung capacity. There isn't a moment where a character seems to be out of place and although there are minor weird moments, overall, all actors do a great job. Dritan Kastrati (Mickey) perfectly plays the role of a man who while trying to get out, can't help but react to things happening around. His main goal is to save himself, but his experiences mixed with current events create a weird mixture of selfishness and caring for others. At one point you might hate him, then you might love him, but overall, as the story moves on, you do create a bond. And that's always a positive sign of great storytelling.

To end everything, Elvis Walks Home is a war movie, but it's not a war movie that's about guns, bombs & body counts. It's also not about the people directly impacted by war. It's a story about a man who managed to get away from war, only to be thrown back in the pit. And why? Because he loves Elvis and his music. Now, if that's not a great story premise, I don't know what is. . Antonio Rozich/Cult Critic/CICFF

The Radicalization of Jeff Boyd
(2017)

The Radicalization of Jeff Boyd is self-reflexively about the discovery of his own artistic self, just as much as it is the story of protagonist Jeff's journey, across a path
For Uwe Schwarzwalder, veteran German actor trying his hand at the direction for the first time, The Radicalization of Jeff Boyd is self-reflexively about the discovery of his own artistic self, just as much as it is the story of protagonist Jeff's journey, across a path riddled with difficult choices. With the help of German realism and Soviet minimalism, Schwarzwalder who also plays the lead role creates a sharply political thriller replete with elements of high drama, conspiracies, crimes and tension. Shot for the major part in Zurich, the first half of the film sets him up against the backdrop of cruising through life without worries- amidst a successful career, a holiday in Australia, retirement plans that involve running a bakery with his closest friend, and a general sense of wellbeing, numbness and apathy. A stooge of corporate capitalism, Jeff's personal, professional and political ideologies undergo a paradigm shift after a tryst with the dark underbelly of capitalism.

When a huge investment opportunity arrives at his doorstep, in the form of Mr. Müller from Marinin Resources, Jeff succumbs to the lure of quick returns and gladly agrees to invest in order to pursue his plans of traveling down south with deep pockets. However, that was not meant to be, for his life soon turns upside down when he discovers he has not only lost all his savings but also his job after an argument with his boss.

Distraught and completely shaken by the cruel turn of events, the real malevolent nature of the system he has been a part of so far, begins to dawn on him. The distance, as they say, gives him a fresh perspective and he starts noticing for the first time in life, uprisings, revolutions and reactionary events happening all around the world- the Chilean miners' strike against multi-national corporations, for instance, looms large at the back of his mind. Thus begins the radicalization of Jeff Boyd. This is also when he meets Wendy, another victim to the tyrannies of the system. They confide in each other a mutual disgust for the capitalist "vampires" who are making the world inhabitable and must be stopped at any cost. Wendy also happens to be an activist/revolutionary whom Jeff had met at a chance encounter some years ago, at a massive demonstration against the American banking plutarchy, which immediately calls to mind the Occupy Wall Street protests of the mid-00's.

The two star-crossed rebels bond over a shared vision to rid the world of this menace, and fall hopelessly in love. Resolved to do their bit and make a bold statement against those that have wronged them, they hitch upon a dangerous plan and in this respect, the film recognizes the futility of liberal avenues of protest like marches, vigils, pamphlets, petitions and journalism, turning instead to anarchism on an individual level. It harks back to the anarchist exploits of Robin Hood, perhaps the earliest literary example of "robbing the rich to give back to the poor"; in fact later in the film, Jeff thinks aloud that he is a modern day Robin Hood.

Despite hesitation on Wendy's part, Jeff convinces her that only a spectacular "demonstration" can unnerve the men in the high castle. The two set about plotting an elaborate kidnapping of Gregory Marinin's mother, who as it turns out, is a victim of capitalism in her own way. Her son is a megalomaniac who has completely forgotten his Russian roots and shrugs all filial responsibilities towards his widowed mother, who has traveled all the way from Russia to spend time with her son. After Jeff and Wendy kidnap her, despite the power dynamic at play and the illegality of what they are doing, Mrs. Marinina realizes their hearts are in the right place and even proposes to help them set up a network of whistleblowers who can bring the entire system down together. This would also give her, she says, the perfect opportunity to teach her estranged son a lesson. Although the plan sounds like the only effective option to deal with capitalism today, it is however extremely ambitious, even with Marinina's resources. Plus, there is high-strung tension between the hostage and her kidnappers with Jeff teetering on the edge of a breakdown. We can sympathize with their cause and especially with the radicalized Jeff, who is earnest but inexperienced in such diabolic activities. Gregory soon gets wind that his mother is selling their ancestral property off, he sends a hitman after Jeff who receives a visit from Muller and learns that the investment has been profitable after all. But he refuses to abandon the mission, with disastrous consequences. The film's final moments find him institutionalized, full of despair and hopelessness.

Jeff Boyd stands for all those who have lost something to the system and have dared to dream of a better world. The film's aesthetic realistically approaches the delicate subject and complements its ideologies. Most striking is the alternation between color and monochrome to suggest events that have happened in the past. The opening montage of the march against banks is one of the film's most well-shot sequences; in fact, all the outdoor shots have been memorably captured by DoP Brian Pinkus.

The dramatic score spontaneously flows from one sequence to the other and gradually acquires a life of its own. Making use of musical genres embodying the multi-national ensemble, each instrumental piece brings new meaning to the film. The OST also comprises two noteworthy songs Waiting by Amanda Ply and Fall by Brendan Gillespie, which feature in the film's climactic moments. The Radicalisation of Jeff Boyd runs for almost two hours but despite the stretch, the film is packed with intertwined subplots which come together, in the end, to bring out Jeff's comeuppance. . Prarthana Mitra/Cult Critic/CICFF

Mama
(2017)

An extreme act of humanity
Eduardo Vieitez's "Mama" puts a face to the fact that refugees are all individual people who lost their homes and families, many are children who are now alone. "Mama" is the true story of a young girl, Rabah, who lost her entire family when a bomb destroyed her home in Aleppo, Syria. Vieitez begins by showing us snapshots of Rabah's life; small enchanted moments of childhood memory blending one into the other. The young girl lies on the floor making a colored-pencil drawing of her happy family. She sits in her room as her mother combs her hair;in another moment we are celebrating her birthday.

Vieitez lulls the audience into a life that once was, only to be horrified when the world is ripped apart by a bomb. We are in the house with Rabah and her family when it happens.The explosion pushes forcibly through the hallways, leaving devastation in its wake. Rabah is left in shock, standing in a smoke-filled pile of rubble.

In his director's statement, Vieitez says that he aims to overwhelm us with a first-person experience.He gives us a raw story; a sense of the trauma a refugee experiences when they go from an everyday life filled with happiness and family, to "the bloodiest hell on the earth."

Vieitez skillfully recreates the blast from the bomb as it rushes through the house. It creates a vacuum, at first slow motion, the editing becomes rapid-fire, mimicking the chaos such an explosion would cause. In an instant, stasis is gone and replaced with the horrors of war. Rabah is shell-shocked, traumatized by the sudden dramatic change in her world. She is confused. She can't find her mother. We fear for this terrified child, who is in danger of being killed at any moment.

Rabah wanders the war-torn streets, desperately calling out, "mama, mama." This the only dialogue in the film. The audience shares a sense of detachment with the child, as Rahman Altin's hypnotic original score drifts throughout the film, at times mixing with the diegetic sound of unseen aircraft, at others blending into rolling thunder.

The sounds of war, people running through the streets, and military vehicles, are all muffled as if the strike of the bomb has done something to our hearing. We can empathize with Rabah's paralyzing terror. Still, she pushes on, surrounded by chaos, periodically calling "mama." Her small voice in the midst of the destruction is a reminder that the victims of war are often the children who are left alone to fend for themselves. It is a terrible human tragedy.

Vieitez accomplishes his quest to create a documentary-style account of the horrors of war. By the time we follow the refugees to the town of Kilis, Turkey, we are relieved to find out that they are welcomed here. Vieitez says he made this film, in part, as a tribute to the municipality of Kilis and its citizens, which in an extreme act of humanity. This act allowed more refugees into their city, this beagn increasing their current population. Vieitez says, and I agree, that the rest of the world should take note and act with the same compassion toward refugees.

Helen Wheels/Cult Critic/CICFF

Olvido
(2017)

Passion for living
Are You Shoveling Sand To Live, Or Living To Shovel Sand? It's been more than a half a century since we dared to ask this great existential question, but what if someone shovels the hard sands of life never knowing they could've lived in the first place?

In just 5 minutes, director Marina Badía & writer Maite Uzal manages to cover all three scenarios in her short film "Olvido". More than often having a talent isn't enough to turn this talent in the foundation of your life, of whom you are and who you want to be. Olvido is a housemaid and a singer whose struggle to survive complicates her passion for living. This creates a massive chasm in who Olvido indeed is and what here choices in life are. On the one hand she has to work to keep herself alive, but on the other side, she's unhappy. She doesn't want to be what she was forced to be just for the sake of survival.

What's even worse in Olvido's case & in similar scenarios is the fact our struggle disables us from progressing. We only have a certain amount of time per day and if that time gets wasted on survival instead of living; a simple yet hard question arises; what's the point? If you work to earn money and you make money just to waste it on things that you do not intend to, then what's the use of that? Like a hamster, why run this perpetual wheel? Just for the sake of running because that's what society intended for us?

Sounds like a complicated topic, right? Something I could easily write a whole book about. Yet, it's all about efficiency, turning complicated in simple and easily understandable. So, to successfully cover this in 5 minutes is a great feat. Badía & Uzal gives constant small hints throughout the film & the hints are done masterfully. The mixture of love & hate is balanced perfectly. As Olvido sings and enjoys her current action, you can continuously see her evident contempt towards her work as a housemaid. As if she knows her role as a singer, although it's real, it is more a dream than a reality. And she knows what awaits her as soon as she wakes up. Probably you do as well.

This brings us to the conclusion Olvido is aware of her current position; she's angry as her life slowly brings her down with each passing day. Although not the most obvious, but certainly the real question is if Olvido is aware she can change this? Actually, let stop for a moment. Can she really turn it around? The trick to this answer isn't observing Olvido. You don't have to watch this short film to find the solution. All you have to do is observe yourself & where you currently are. Is there room for a change?

As time goes by and we get older, we slowly realize there's less and less time to be used productively & most of us find peace with the fact. But finding peace with the fact we're living just to shovel sand without any joy in it, doesn't sound right. Let's be honest for a moment. In any point of history, was there a person who found true fulfillment in sacrificing joy for this irrelevant thing called life?

Antonio Rozich/Cult Critic/CICFF

Anexperimentalviralvlog: The Movie Remix
(2016)

Communication is more about the way something is communicated, than what is being communicated
As an artist, do you experience for the sake of experimenting, or do you experiment for the sake of experiencing? And considering the massive scope, the art of being an artist has, who says you can't do both? By experimenting you experience new things and by experiencing new things you become able to experiment in new and different ways.

"Anexperimentalviralvlog" by the Lisbon-based director and artist Vasco Diogo is a remix, combination or maybe even a movie inside a movie. It explores the vastness of human communication and the ever so thin line between the artist and the viewer. Because indeed; to understand the full scope of a certain film, the viewers need to be artists. Actually, sometimes that only suffices to understand the starting point of artist's creative trail. In the end, the viewers are left in disappointment because they know they will never be able to find out what lies beyond the starting point.

And that's exactly why we need clear communication. If we ever hope to find out what lies in the deepest corners of other people's minds, we need communication. Vasco Diogo explores the process of communication through monotone and lifeless phrases; almost like mantras. This approach makes it clear that communication is more about the way something is communicated, than what is being communicated. Because if you say something in a monotone and lifeless way, how can you ever hope for someone to experience your message? No matter how many times you repeat it, the only response you can hope to receive is the one of a deaf and cold wall.

On the other hand, a clear and meaningful presentation creates a bridge between the artist and the viewer. And by crossing the bridge, the audience doesn't have to try to understand the message; they simply do understand. You don't have to explain what your art is about if it's clear and meaningful, they simply will. I challenge you to observe the correlation between a quality art piece and the length of its description. It can be any piece of art, and it can come in any form. Let me know what your observations are.

And that's what you'll feel if you watch Diogo's "Anexperimentalviralvlog". There's no story, and there are even no actors. The only thing that reminds the audience that this is a piece of filmmaking is the fact it uses a visual medium to present its message. And this is something you need to do if you want to get to the core of any form of art. You need to strip down all the layers until there's only the last layer left. The layer that truly defines what something is; and for filmmaking that's the visual medium.

With everything said, what's the point of communication? Even with this film review? Exploring the message and the reasons for the message can be fun, but if we're completely honest, most of the time it's boring as hell. What's the point of exploring, experimenting, and experiencing if we don't know what we're trying to explore, experience, or experiment? And I'm not talking on the general level, but knowing what you're aiming for on that foundational level, where there's nothing left to remove.

"Anexperimentalviralvlog" asks these questions, and you as the viewer might get surprised if you ask them as well.

Antonio Rozich/Cult Critic/CICFF

Kanika
(2017)

Pushkar Manohar gives us a heartfelt film but one in which you run the entire gamut of emotions
One film, three different emotions! Started watching the film with a thrill of horror; emotional suffering in the middle and ended with a satisfactory smile. Female infanticide is not an unfamiliar topic today but such outlandish and offbeat storyline makes this award-winning film a divergent. Today also when they are born, girl child have to face constant discrimination even in educated, 'liberal' families where the male heir is automatically given preferential treatment and when they grow up they face perverse prejudices, unspeakable harassment and unchecked abuse from a civilisation that seems to think women are prey to every form of unwanted attention. Director Pushkar Manohar gives us a heartfelt film but one in which you run the entire gamut of emotions — joy, tears, excitement, and ebullience.

The story begins with some strange and mysterious incidents which happen with renowned Paediatric specialist Dr. Koushik Pradhan. A ghost of a dead little girl haunts not only Dr. Pradhan but also some of his colleagues. But one of his colleague's mysterious death let the cat out of the bag. Bit by bit Dr. Pradhan and his friend come to know that the poor child is none other than a victim of their inhumanity and barbarity. A few years ago for a certain amount of money, Dr. Pradhan himself was responsible for the death of the little girl Kanika. Gradually Doctor's abnormal behavior pretends his mental sickness and lastly, his family admits him in an asylum.

To achieve the right amount of credibility, the casting was very crucial. And well, no one disappoints. Each actor has made such a fair play to their character that one can easily connect especially the character of Kanika's mother was unparallel and obviously, the little girl as Kanika is very adorable. The actor who plays Dr. Kausik Pradhan is excellent in his role. His performance is incredibly heartfelt and intense, and it's memorable more because most of it is internal and non-verbal. His devastated expression of anguish and grief is haunting. Sound design and editing of the whole film are superb. In the horror sequences, cinematographer's eye for detail is outstanding as he romances the camera with imaginative angles and lighting.

The world is zooming ahead in all fields that count at breakneck speed. The boom in the economy, innovative technologies, and improved infrastructure are the testament to that. Even after the witnessed advancements in the country, violence against girl child is still practiced. It has made its root so deep which is creating a problem in getting out completely from the society. Violence again girl child is the very dangerous social evil. The reason of female foeticide is the technological improvement in the country such as ultrasound, sex determination tests, scan tests and amniocentesis, detect genetic abnormalities, and all such technologies have given way to various rich, poor and middle- class families to detect the sex of a fetus and abort in case of a girl baby.

As Newton's Third Law of Motion states, 'For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction', the after-effects of this genocide are fatal and far-reaching. Blinded by the need for an assertive gender to rule the house after the parents' demise, the majority are often ignorant of the disaster which people unwittingly invite by indulging in female feticide. I really salute director Pushkar Manohar to choose such a paramount topic.

Arindam Bhunia/Cult Critic/CICFF

Demonia Undertaker
(2017)

It might trick you into thinking this was made in a Hollywood studio
When thinking about limitations filmmakers face, we cannot just think but talk about the biggest one. A limitation that only specific filmmakers face is the ones who have the unlucky passion for creating Sci-Fi.

It's one thing to create a drama or horror when you're running on a budget, but it's a completely new level when you want to shoot a Sci-Fi movie. Sci-Fi movies depend on great visuals more than any other genre. Thus, you need a decent budget to create a believable visual presentation. This doesn't mean that story or character development is less important. It means if you want to create a good Sci-Fi movie, you need to make sure all Sci-Fi elements are believable. The whole idea of Sci-Fi is to create something that either doesn't exist or isn't discovered. So yeah, it can get tricky when you don't have millions at your disposal.

Still, it is possible, and "Demonia Undertaker", directed by Geovanni Molina, found a way to make that happens.

You need to understand the gravity of this problem. Imagine if you want to be a filmmaker and your passion is Sci-Fi. Thankfully, CGI has become less expensive in the last decade, but still. You need to create top-quality props, top-quality effects, and at the same time a great story to integrate everything. So by having a filmmaker deciding to take on this crazy task, he already faces numerous obstacles. And he didn't even start!

"Demonia Undertaker" revolves around Staleth (Geovanni Molina) who's on the hunt for Tanash. Staleth and Tanash share past as they were both pupils trained to protect the universe. But Tanash got corrupted by an alien called Demonia and turned on everything he and Staleth were taught. Tanash discovers Earth and decides to have some 'fun' there. And in Tanash's language 'fun' means running a killing spree all over the place. Staleth is sent to stop his ex-friend before he does even more damage.

That's the story, and it's rather simple. You have a good guy, and you have the good guy turned into a bad guy who needs to be stopped. Behind the bad guy, there's an entire evil force trying to take over the entire universe. Yes, it reminds of "Star Wars", but then again, "Star Wars" wasn't the first movie to use this formula, just the one that made it popular.

Both Staleth and Tanash have psychic abilities, and this creates a perfect foundation for various conflicts that happen throughout the movie. As Tanash can possess humans, he constantly switches from one to another. This enables him to manipulate his surrounding easily and confuse Staleth.

Tanash is a crazy character full of madness, and it's interesting to see how he's portrayed by every next person he takes over. Naturally, each new person is played by a new character, so you have numerous actors playing the same role. This might not sound complicated at first, but keep in mind all the actors had to portray him equally. If the movie failed at that, it would have been a huge blow to the overall impression, but all the actors did a perfect job.

When it comes to Staleth, he's your classic good guy with a troubled past. He has a strong moral belief but is plagued by the emotions he has for Tanash. He has to stop him even it means killing him, so you could say he isn't the best guy for the job. But still, he's the only one who can do it.

This creates another interesting movie element where friendship and duty collide. Staleth knows he must not restrain himself if he wants to stop Tanash, but most of the times he can't help himself. And that makes you think. Is Staleth's inability to do what's right is a certain form of evil as well? This blurs the line between good and evil, and it tells us how rarely if ever, things are just black and white.

The 'Sci-Fi' element is done decently. Special effects are used just when needed. And the introduction is gorgeous for an independent movie. It might even trick you into thinking this was made in a Hollywood studio.

So has Molina managed to overcome this great obstacle all Sci-Fi filmmakers face? Not completely, but he made a huge step towards succeeding. All that's left is to wait and see what the next step will be.

Antonio Rozich/Cult Critic/CICFF

Scaredy Cat
(2017)

A silent protest against cast and segregation system of the society
'IT' started thousand years ago; by degrees, 'IT' has generated and today 'IT' has become a rare immedicable disease. 'IT' is nothing but the 'division' in our caste system, 'division' in our culture, 'division' in every aspect of our society, 'division' in our workplace and finally 'IT' has triumphed over our mindset also. "Scaredy Cat" is an outstanding display of this chronic disease. In this award-winning film the director Sumit Singh exposes to view how the system of segregation has engulfed in our workplace.

The story begins with Tom who lives in a society where people are divided into two classes, dominant totalitarian cats, and subservient mice. Telemarketer Tom belongs to the subservient mice group. Domination and unethical supremacy of cat belonged people have ruined Tom's world, especially in his office. Bit by bit the hatred and fear towards the cat belonged people becomes a phobia for him. Tom starts doing absurd, ridiculous and groundless behavior to his friends and colleagues. But nothing could overcome his fears to the cats. At last, Tom takes an extreme step to becoming free from this system.

No society or nation has been immune to discrimination, either as victim or victimizer. The more extreme forms of discriminatory practices include genocide, slavery, legislated discrimination, discriminatory immigration laws, and disenfranchisement. The world we live in has been struggling with this sensitive subject for years and it produces immense effects in the psychological, social, political, and economic domains. Whether intended or not, the effects are compounded by the loss of self-worth, a sense of alienation from the wider society, political disempowerment, and economic inequalities. Prejudice and ethnic hostilities constitute a major danger to peace both within a nation and among nations.

It is a very bold step to select such an arguable issue and in this case director, Sumit Singh undoubtedly passed with a distinction. The performances throughout the film are gripping, particularly the main character gives very convincing portrayals of the grief and fear in his character go through – one wonders what director might have put his cast through to get such fantastic acting. Screenplay and sound quality are absolutely perfect. Discrimination and segregation. "Scaredy Cat" is not just a film, it is a silent protest against cast and segregation system of the society, it is not a flawless movie, but it is definitely a moving and riveting movie experience which remains in the mind for a long time.

Arindam Bhunia/Cult Critic/CICFF

Treading Yesterday
(2016)

An engaging, most likely binge-worthy series
Craig Bettendorf's "Treading Yesterday" explores the world of a close-knit group of gay men who have been friends since the late 1980s. Bettendorf develops his characters just enough in the first episode to entice us into wanting to know more about them. For those who have watched the ground-breaking Showtime series, "Queer as Folk", they will find that "Treading Yesterday" covers many of the same themes, but with a fresh plot twist and the hope of being something more than mere entertainment.

In the first episode, we meet the main character, Erica middle-aged gay man living in 21st Century America. Eric is the narrator of the show, filling in the gaps for us. You could say he has a charmed life; good looks, aging well, and his husband Aiden is equally as attractive and successful. They have a close-knit group of friends who have been together since the 1980s when living a queer lifestyle was dangerous and unacceptable. Their friendship began at a point in history when the demonization of their culture was the norm. Together they built a community and survived during a time when fear manipulated political agendas. The group became like family, forming deep bonds through the years of struggle. Considering how well things appear to be going now, in 2015, it isn't surprising that Aiden doesn't notice his partner's discontent. Eric's existential crisis isn't apparent from his outward appearance, but there is an unrest bubbling beneath the surface. Middle-age is quickly approaching, and the pressure within the gay community to stay in shape, maintain a successful career and the need to set a precedence for what a good marriage looks like, is all beginning to take its toll.

Bettendorf juxtaposes life after much of the fight for gay civil rights has been won, with the hard truth of what it took to get to where the community is today. The story starts with a snapshot of the present then catapults us into Eric's past, as the plot takes an unexpected turn. After a night of celebration, Eric wakes up and realizes that he has somehow returned to1988. As the logline suggests, once he realizes where he is, Eric sets out on a quest. This dual time-period premise is going to work well for the series. Approaching the story by illustrating the differences between the past and present sheds light on the challenges that still exist within the LBGTQ community.

Most of the audience should be able to relate to the characters on some level, realizing that so much of what life throws at us is part of the human experience. All people want love, thrive on friendship and seek to find personal fulfillment. Building empathy by finding common ground with the audience gives Bettendorf the opportunity to shed light on the oppression that still exists for this segment of society, without appearing to be preaching from a soapbox. In this way, entertainment leads to a dialog about intolerance.

"Treading Yesterday" promises to be an engaging, most likely binge-worthy series. By the end of Episode 1, we feel invested in the lives of Bettendorf's characters and need answers to our questions about the mysterious newcomer, Will.

Make sure to watch the piolet all the way through to the end of the credits to see what lies ahead.

Helen Wheels/Cult Critic/CICFF

Cupid is not a terrorist
(2017)

Bellopropello intellectually draws together two totally reverse aspects through Cupid
Love and terrorism cannot draw breath together. They are totally antithetical each other. A terrorist uses unlawful brutality and barbarity towards the mankind. On the other side, love adjoin and rebuilt the humanity. In his animation film "Cupid is not a terrorist", director Bellopropello intellectually drew together these two totally reverse aspects through CUPID.

Cupid; the son of Venus, the goddess of Love and Mars, the god of war is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction, and affection. His iconography acquired the bow and arrow that represent his source of power. Interestingly it is said that a person or even a deity who is shot by Cupid's arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire. Here the question arises, is this obstreperous love is harmful to the mankind or a blessing? Is it the Cupid's arrow which encouraged Paris to steal away Helen from Troy which resulted the Greeks and Menelaus armies turned the Aegean Sea red with blood? But in his animation film, Bellopropello has not framed Cupid's arrow as a culprit but as a love acquirer searching for true love.

Love can be blind but love cannot be brutal. In the presence of love, terrorism cannot exist. Hence Cupid, the god of uncontrollable love, can never be a terrorist.

Arindam Bhunia/Cult Critic/CICFF

Cold Breath
(2017)

Admirable groundbreaking drama
"Cold Breath" by Abbas Raziji is the story of a transgender person living in a world in which they are forced to conform to survive. The film was shot in the Islamic Republic of Iran, by a brave group of filmmakers who seek to point out that societal constraints which label people male or female do not ultimately encompass the entirety of human identity.

Raziji uses symbolism that relates to Islamic law in the opening shot of the film. We hear a slow drip, and see blood (number five on the law's list of Impure Things), as it mixes with water in a bucket. The mixing of blood and water furthers the religious symbolism of impurity. Next, baby chickens are dumped into a container and covered in blue paint. Paint covered hands lead us to a room where multi-colored baby chicks are frantically running around. The perpetrator, wearing a rainbow-colored garment, looks on. The colorful chicks appear to have been transformed into something unnatural.They no longer blend in. Raziji uses the symbolism of the chick's transition in color to illustrate how unexpected changes in appearance affect perception.

His cinematic use of desaturation illustrates a stark existence within strictly defined gender roles. This, in an oppressive place, where the color has been drained from everyday life. The toneless environment is a stark contrast to the characters in the story who wear colorful clothes and have equally colorful personalities. The only person who is drab is Raziji's protagonist, who is actively working to assimilate into the environment. This person cannot show the world their true colors because it would alter outward appearances and expectations.

The protagonist seems androgynous. They appear more female than male when they are out in the world, and more male in the safety of their home. However, it isn't until thirty minutes into the film that we are offered a glimpse into their inner struggle. The camera angle tilts on its side. A vertical image in an otherwise horizontal format forces the viewer to wonder if something has gone wrong with the video; only to realize that this is a message about the skewed existence in which this person is forced to live. We hear their voice, barely making out the words as they repeat "man, man, man". Here, Raziji uses the unexpected tilt of the camera to describe the gender dysphoria experienced by a man who was assigned female at birth. We come to realize that his entire life is based on a lie.

The fact that there is no music track except for the scenes in which he is alone and contemplating his true identity speaks to the fact that there is no real joy in his life. Other than dialogue, the sounds that are prominent throughout the film are the crowd in the marketplace, dogs, chickens and other animal and an occasional vehicle driving down a dirt road. The lack of music and the other sound choices mirror the monochrome environment, adding to the feeling of oppression.

It is interesting to note the story that Raziji chooses to present. Compared to Amazon's award-winning series "Transparent", in which the main character struggles to "come out" to their family and is ultimately able to live as a woman (though they experience their own set of dangers), "Cold Breath" instead shows us a person who is trying to walk the tightrope as both man and woman because there is not even a small chance anyone will understand. And there is a very real danger that he would not survive.

As a woman, he leads a life as a mother, which holds its own set of challenges. He must dress as a woman for work and hold female designated jobs that ensure him living in poverty. His daughter is critically ill and he cannot afford to get her medical treatment. His employer wants to have an intimate relationship. He has female troubles on the surface - yet the most troubling part of his life is hidden. Still, he moves through life with dignity and steadfastness about the truth of his identity.

To me, the heart of "Cold Breath" is universal. As humans, we all struggle to conform to society's expectations, and we have expectations of others which aren't always correct. Trans people suffer a much more difficult challenge because of long-held societal beliefs, no matter what part of the world they inhabit. They are faced with the very real possibility that they will be harmed for being who they are. The compassion and consideration that were taken in producing this groundbreaking drama are admirable. It is what filmmaking is all about. Filmmaking is an opportunity to tell stories that people may never hear otherwise. Raziji's "Cold Breath" does just that.

Helen Wheels/Cult Critic/CICFF

Birpurush: The Hero Within
(2017)

A remake with a new touch: worth watching
With everyone there is a hero within, "Birpurush" (a Bengali word which means 'hero') – is a film written and directed by Saurabh Chatterjee. It portrays how a child inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's poem Birpurush, saves his mother from Molestation. There is a place within each one of us that stores a hidden stamina. The power of this quality gives us the ability to rise above the ordinary, within an instant if called upon. Within this hidden wealth lie love, courage, compassion, strength, hope, faith, benevolence, kindness, patience and truth.

Most of us are unaware of its existence, but if you look closely enough, you will recognize that there have been many instances in your life where you called for that stamina and your hero within a rose. This short film has a hero in the form of a kid, and it also aware us of the crimes that take place within the remote areas of Kolkata, India. Molestation of women has risen to a great extent in the current phase, Nirvaya, and Kamduni has been the peak of crimes against women. At this phase, a film that brings both awareness against crimes, and also how one can save them from getting molested is worth it.

"Birpurush" is about a child who gets rejected in his school annual cultural program. He prepared himself for the role of Tagore's acclaimed poem 'Birpurush', but rejection made his hopes shatter. On the day of the cultural program, his mother seeing the sad face of his child makes a plan to surprise his dad, by reaching home early. On the way, she hires a rickshaw to drop them at their home. The rickshaw driver sides himself and makes a call, informing that there's a chance.

The director interestingly directs a wonderful scene by alternating the drama performance in the school, and the real incident that is to take place with the mother and child. The rickshaw driver drove past the city into a deserted road where the mother and child encountered Goons. The rickshaw driver fled from there, thus the Goons started molesting the mother, instigating the child to give rise to his inner strength, prompted him to save his mother. And actually doing so made him a 'Birpurush' or the Savior. The police who were in search of this racket arrive and arrest the Goons.

The child is brave enough to translate his dream into reality; he became a hero beyond the boundaries of literature. In the true sense, he justified the famous line of Rabindranath Tagore's poem, 'Bhagge Khoka Chilo mayer Pase' (Luckily, the mother had her child by her side).

The director Saurabh Chatterjee, with his film, exactly gave life to Tagore's poem, where a child saved his mother from dacoits; here the kid saves his mother from Goons and getting them arrested.

No doubt, this short film is a remake with a new touch. For a debut filmmaker, this has been an excellent film with a gripping story and a message of awareness. Speaking of the performances, you cannot point out any flaws in it. And how can you do so? In the mother's role actress Koneenica Bandhyopadhay did a fabulous job, along with Debiprasad Halder, Indrasis Acharya (father), and Tanish Chakraborty in the other roles. Overall, as a debut film, "Birpurush" is worth watching.

Riya Saha/Cult Critic/CICFF

You Have a Nice Flight
(2017)

Excellent first film!
Sometimes, we come across movies that just don't attract us from the first look, but compel us to watch it. Whether it's a long line that has no appeal or a poster that totally ruins a movie – something throws us off. That may be the case for many people staring at a DVD with "You Have A Nice Flight" letters printed on​ it,​ but​​ they ​​would​​ be ​​heavily​​ missing​​ out.

While this charming little feature may not be something Oscar-worthy and it may not be the greatest comedy of the century, and it may not deliver an amazing dialogue or memorable characters we would go on to talk to for ages about, it does deliver one thing it is fun. From the start of the movie, one might be confused what story the director is trying to tell. Is it going to be dramatic, Sweet and charming? Or is it going to be a comedy? Perhaps this will all turn into a weird horror movie three minutes in? It gives you plenty food for thought before clarifying that it is, indeed comedy. It is very relatable,​especially​​ to​​ those ​​of​​ us,​who​​ are ​​foreign.

How many times as first-time​ travelers did we get stuck in an airport when someone didn't understand what we were saying? How many times people made fun of those accents? How many times people stereotyped us? I think foreign audience, especially those who travel a lot, will recognize the value of this film as one that pokes fun at all those holes left on us by the always ​​helpful​​ airport​​ staff. ​​But​​ let's​​ not​delve ​​there ​​too​​ much: ​​let's ​​talk​​ about ​​ the​​ film ​​itself.

Jimmy Dinh is great as a lead actor in this role. This is his story; this is something he obviously feels very comfortable doing. His portrayal of Dong Hung is hilarious: from little stereotypical clichés about Vietnamese people to a little deeper issue to one-liners that can have you cracking for a long time. Jimmy truly is a charming guy and his comedy is excellent. During the filming of "You Have a Nice Flight", he wore many hats, not only those of actor in multiple roles throughout the film. He also directed the film, marking his feature film debut in Hollywood world and as first time – not bad! In fact, Jimmy's directorial debut is one of the better ones seen across ​​the ​​scope​​ when ​​comparing​​​ with​​ many​​ other​​ first-time​​ directors.

Now, it's time to review the story. Comedy is a hard genre to tackle, regardless of what regular day people think. With drama, it's hard to get people to go to emotional lengths, to keep your cast and crew in check psychologically, to write a script that has weight and emotion beyond what others could do. With comedy you face other issues: you never know whether things are going to be funny or not until you see them on screen. Sure, jokes can sound pretty good on paper and some of the physical gags likely can make the crew laugh in between takes, but it is very much about editing, timing, and the final product. Filming comedy is not like staging comedy. On stage you have tricks you can play – you can manipulate audience into laughing. In the film, if it's not funny – it's not funny at all. It's very hard to make something funny if it's not.

And as a first-time​ comedy film for Jimmy Dinh you have to hand a guy his hat – he did a pretty good job. Sure, some of the jokes in the movie can take it a notch too far, and some of the stereotypes are a little hard to watch, but overall, it's not a bad comedy. That does not mean that the film cannot have been improved after a couple of script revisions: perhaps some of the physical gags could have been changed by the charming presence of Mr. Dinh on screen collectively combined with his very funny accent jokes. But hey – everyone has to go through a few bad "eggs" before they ​​hatch​​ a​​ good one.

Overall,​ the​​ crew​​ and​​ cast​​ of​​​ "You​ Have a Nice Flight"​​ have done a​​ fantastic ​​job.​​ The cinematography is decent – sometimes changes between focus threw me off, but otherwise a pretty good job. The acting of an ensemble cast was very good too – they seemed to enjoy doing this production, especially some of the older actors were quite hilarious. The lighting at the airport was good, but once it transferred into the plane something was a little off and too dark. The score sometimes made things too complicated or dramatic, or unnecessarily cheese. At times it was enjoyable and added to the atmosphere, but the score was really the only thing that could have ​​made ​​this​​ production​​ ​​better.

Otherwise – best of luck to Jimmy Dinh in his future adventures. Excellent first film! Maybe given with more time and guidance Jimmy Dinh will one day be able to make some of the best comedy in the world. We need diverse actors and creators to be heard and I really wish Mr. Dinh would become one of the advocates of the world for those people, whose voices are often ​​silenced.

Rimute Terra Budreviciute/Cult Critic/CICFF

Mi'raj
(2017)

A singular, daring and very risky film
"Mi'raj", a film directed by Tariq Umar Khan and Sapan Narula, shows a desperate search through a path plagued by extreme difficulties (more psychic than physical) to reach the purifying catharsis and, almost always, redemptive, although the end of the road can lead to tragedy. "Mi'raj" can be considered a small tragedy embedded in the soul of a man with a past that we do not know and a future as uncertain as his own way through a nature that intimates despite its beauty. This film is full of initiatory trips. In one way or another, the filmmakers have always felt the need to show viewers the desperate need for one's escape to nowhere; although the human being always runs away looking for something, he always runs away to prove that his life still belongs to him in some way and that almost unconscious journey is the salvation of his life.

The starting point is simple: a man (apparently happy) crosses a lost carriage between lonely and mysterious valleys with his car. He carries with him all the comforts: listening to music, carrying several suitcases full of clothes and objects belonging to an opulent society, which you can see well in the film, and also he has confidence in himself. It is precisely his disdain for others, which will mark his way to hell in which there will be no turning back when his luxurious vehicle is damaged in the middle of nowhere. And that's where the game of directors begins with the viewer; this is the turning point necessary to be accomplices of the film and everything that is reported in an hour and a half.

From the beginning the aesthetics of the film is installed: we never see the face of the protagonist, since it is filmed with a subjective camera (it is as if we saw his life through himself), and at the same time there is an objective camera that shows us what general, the great landscapes, the dark areas that the protagonist does not let us see. This idea is good, although perhaps it could have been more qualified, or planned better since at a certain moment it produces a certain narrative boredom since the element of surprise is gradually diluted as 'time' becomes more evident. The game raised by the filmmakers is somewhat exposed.

But despite all this, the proposed objective has coherence to the end and endows the film with narrative robustness, combined with a particular and peculiar dance music (sometimes evokes Viennese style music with all its worldly decadence), the very well worked environmental sounds and the constant voices of the two protagonists who speak and speak without stopping to constantly express their states of mind to the viewer.

There is no doubt that it is a confrontation with the reflected nature of the civilized world that we do not see, but which we feel and of which we have brief references due to the objects and utensils that are showing us throughout history. But little by little, all this 21st century props: mobiles, modern cars, wi-fi, computers, etc., are falling into oblivion, disappears before the mole of the impregnable and arrogant nature that crushes the proud man and respects those who abide by its humble and container rules.

It could be more subtle the lesson that the directors Tariq Umar and Sapan Narula, they want to give us, but their idea starts from a pure idea that tries to radiograph the human soul through values ​​that have to be recovered and other values ​​that have to be thrown by the rail. Thus, the film is a catalog of survival, of getting rid of the superfluous, of the reasons for selfishness, of material possession, of emptying the excess baggage, of learning to live together (not only with others, but with ourselves), to face the hostile, to learn that others can help and teach us. The world exists only to the extent that we create and inhabit it. The structure of the film also plays with dreamlike scenes, full of mysterious effects of sharp sounds, and distressing images that translate into nightmares of the protagonist. Perhaps a little of this effect is abused since it is repeated too many times throughout the film.

This repetition of the things that have already been shown to us could be perhaps the weakest part of this estimable film that dips with courage and risk within the human psyche and tries to get closer to the best and the worst of ourselves. And something terrible is highlighted: fear, fear, and panic to loneliness.

Yes, finally, we understand that the worst of our life is not the lack of wealth, nor the social position, nor the artistic recognition, nor the order of our life in relation to a globalized world that bathes in unstoppable and miraculous technology. Yes, the worst of all is the loneliness, the fear to go all the way and meet the wolves, with the edge of the teeth, with the sharp sounds of terror, with the knife of our own starvation, with the blood spilled from our absolute ignorance and emptiness.

In short, "Mi'raj" is a singular, daring and very risky film, which takes advantage of the minimalism in which it moves, leaving the viewer plunged in good and evil, but also in the breath of hope.

Miguel Ángel Barroso García/Cult Critic/CICFF

#babynymph
(2016)

Aldo Pedrosa managed to achieve exactly what he wanted
In today's world, when someone mentions the word nymph, the first thing that comes to mind is nymphomania – an uncontrollable sexual desire in a woman (for a man the phrase satyriasis is used). This sexual desire most often comes from a strong need for attention. If you take into account modern technology, which makes it easier than ever to find attention, you can easily deduce why Aldo Pedrosa decided to name his movie "#babynymph". In the movie, Cibelle, whose code name is #babynymph, portraits the current young generation that finds attention via social media. Well, maybe Cibelle is a bit over exaggerated version, but to make a proper movie, you need to make sure the audience understands it. And the easiest way to do that is by making it bigger than it really is so the audience becomes aware of the true reality – it's what we call the magic of cinema, you know.

Cibelle creates various live blogs where she often sexually teases her audience in order to get what she wants. Like some twisted version of the Greek goddess Hedone, she feeds on the attention given to her by the viewers.

So one day, Cibelle calls her friend Diana to her house when Cibelle's father leaves for a trip. Cibelle decides to include Diana in her ventures for attention and… Well, you'll have to watch the movie to find out what happens next, but as you probably can guess, things go horribly wrong.

Like most of us, Cibelle believes happiness is something that doubles when shared. And while you and many world philosophies will definitely agree on that; Cibelle got the idea a bit wrong. Nevertheless, it's an interesting idea to ponder upon. We might think what Cibelle is doing is wrong, but today, more and more young people are doing the same thing. And when the minority becomes the majority, who will be wrong then?

Director Aldo Pedrosa managed to achieve exactly what he wanted. Some people won't like the topic and won't like the way it was produced simply for their own subjective versions. But in reality, the movie is done masterfully. Well, OK, Pedrosa could have probably developed the story better and achieve even more with it, but let's not nitpick. The frames and the camera work are done in an exact needed way to portray two things. First is the feeling many people have when they see a young person like Cibelle (by the way, young Dandara Adrien played her role perfectly) and that's either anger or discomfort hidden under the mask of the ratio as it's always easier to judge than to understand. The second feeling is the horror of the consequences.

And indeed, the movie's beginning might make some people stop watching as Cibelle is arrogant, doesn't feel shame, and most importantly, she's self-confident. But the repulse you might feel is the way it was meant to be. If the movie started in any other way, it would've been wrong. Remember, just because you feel discomfort towards something or someone, it doesn't mean it's automatically bad.

Hmm, this actually brings us to an interesting idea. Wouldn't you say we often misjudge people on next to no basis? Same as we do with movies? Yes, I understand the World is filled with bad people and equally bad movies, but that isn't an excuse for not giving them at least some attention.

The main two characters in "#babynymph" are done perfectly. Same as the story they have a natural flow throughout the movie. And when you experience a natural flow in a movie where you don't get plucked out of its magic, you know the director is doing his or her job.

Finally, we can say how children today spend too much time on their phones and how that's the main problem the movie is trying to tackle; but is that really the problem? Maybe Pedrosa's intention truly was that maybe it wasn't. Maybe he simply wanted to make a movie on a topic that's been viral since the dawn of modern civilization and that's young kids who don't know what they are doing.

20 years ago young kids didn't know what they were doing when they went out to play only to end up in the back of a stranger's car. Today, young kids don't know what they are doing with their phones. So where's the real problem? In the tools children use or in the children themselves; that is, in the education these children are given?

Besides being a beautiful young maiden capable of giving birth to gods, word 'nymph' is also used to describe an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows, like a locust for example. And wouldn't you say the lack of change and learning is the real problem? For us humans I mean, not for the locust.

If you get the chance, watch "#babynymph" as Pedrosa and his crew did a great job.

Antonio Rozich/Cult Critic/CICFF

Tara: The Journey of Love and Passion
(2013)

Great film, excellent idea and a message we all need to carry in the heart
"Tara" is an important film not only for Indian culture but for people worldwide. It depicts a life that every single mother experiences – regardless of whether she knows the father or doesn't – a life of shame and questions from friends. "How are you going to deal with this?" "So young and already pregnant?" This film shows us, that despite the questions, a woman should go on. A child is a miracle. A life is a miracle. And she is her own person and can make her own decisions.

There are a lot of good things about this movie, that stand out and make it special. Some of the favorites include wonderful acting from the lead actress Rekha Rana. She truly delivers a convincing performance as a mother: her emotional range is wide and she is capable of staying truthful regardless of circumstances in the story. Her fellow actors also deliver convincing performances that delve deeply into each character, even if the audience doesn't like the character. The film is also filled with amazing shots and beautiful composition, that accompanies such a good idea perfectly.

Other things that make this movie special include: costume design, makeup, hair-style, production design and soundtrack. R. Rana's costumes are especially gorgeous – so are the other village girls and women. Men's costumes reflect their status and their character very well. The makeup & hair team also worked hard to show the character of "Tara" through her style. The soundtrack was very traditional to many Bollywood films, but it also effectively mixed with some 90s sounds and beats in it.

A lot of good things came out of this movie, including the message, it sent, however, there were some things that could be made better. One of such was the way the story was told. While it was clear to me, sometimes the story would jump around the action without really warning the viewer about what is happening. Two particular moments stood out to me the most: the beginning of Tara's sad story and Tara's pregnancy reveal. At the beginning of the movie I thought we would see Tara's story as a flashback, maybe intercut with her current life, but then after about 5 minutes, movie returned to Tara's roots. Which could have been a good decision, but the execution was too fast and could throw a potential viewer off guard.

Also, when Ballu comes back and Tara is pregnant – the whole storyline that Tara might have slept with someone didn't really make sense. If he loved her, why didn't he believe her? Why did the other guy, the village creep, lie about being the father? I understand the whole rumor dilemma, it just didn't make sense that he didn't believe her and that she got pregnant a few days after he left (or started feeling pregnant). Maybe it could have been explained clearer on how much time has passed, or maybe she could have started feeling the symptoms earlier but her friends could have found out later.

Overall: great film, excellent idea and a message we all need to carry in the heart. A lot of effort was put into making this film and audiences will surely appreciate it for what it is.

Rimute Terra Budreviciute/Cult Critic/CICFF

Mum
(2017)

A very enchanting short film with a great story
In this day and age, the TV and Film Industry is filled with thought-provoking, deep material that most of us can relate in some form or another. However, in the sea of deepness, it is hard to swim ashore: unless that shore is a movie that has a heart. Very few movies try to connect with us emotionally, reaching our hearts. Many attempts to – the threads of happiness, love, sadness, sacrifice are there, but they are over glossed by big budget explosions, humor, and secondary stories. "Mum" is one of the few shorts with a heart and a message, that somehow transcends to us, adults, through a small girl's eyes.

Cinematographically, "Mum" is a very satisfying short. Every shot seems to have a meaning, every camera movement is there to stay with an audience. The way this film is shot makes ordinary Indian life seem special. It makes those small interactions between the girl and the class, the girl and her dad, the girl, and the goats have a meaning, carry some weight onto the audience. But this is not the only thing that this short film has to offer.

If you are a music fan, and once in a while like to shuffle through movie playlist – this score is for you. Not only it compliments the story, but it's also a very emotional score, filled with a subtext that when put together with the young girl's performance delivers a feeling to us. And that feeling is there to stay.

It is also a story that you wouldn't expect to go where it goes. From the beginning, you kind of have a feeling that it's about a girl not having her mother – but you have no idea that it's about an abandoned child and violation of that sacred connection between a mom and a child. It's very touching to find out, through the words of the storyteller, that she knows what's like to not have a mother and she chose to take the child she found by the trees because she too, knows what's like to be abandoned. To see a child being able to come to terms with that, accept it, move on and help others means a great deal to us, the adult audience.

Now, while in real life children may deal with that kind of situation in many different ways, in this film the young girl represents us. The Twenty-first century has taught us a lot about humanity: we are facing many issues, but the current generations are fighting hard to overcome them and make a better world for our children. However, in all these fights we seem to forget the core of our values: family. "Mum" reminds us of that core. It shows us that in order to move forward, we need to have all pieces together, not just one. We see, through the girl's understanding of the goat family, how the world should work and we can learn from it too.

Overall, "Mum" is a very enchanting short film with a great story, performances, and a message, that will leave you well aware of your own self. Maybe, after watching this short film many will understand, that if we want to survive in this world, we should not aim to change it all together: we should start with our own self, our family, and our values and remember, that the truth will always win.

Rimute Terra Budreviciute/Cult Critic/CICFF

The Salty Sea Dog
(2017)

Camera work and cinematography is brilliant
We all want to be loved and want to stay together with our loved ones. We can strain our every nerve to secure our dear ones. But everyone's life is not a fairy tale. Sometimes the 'ONE' whom we believe and love most can turn traitor or betray us and rides roughshod over our feelings. The shattered, broken soul then hunts for peace and support and when two distress soul comes together, they pull well with one another and becomes perfect. We can taste the whole essence in the award-winning film "The Salty Sea Dog".

The story begins with a perfect blush and a beautiful smile on the face of the leading lady when she discovers her pregnancy. She wants to let her husband know about this special news in a romantic way. But the Creator wrote something different for her. All her merriment nipped in the bud after her sudden miscarriage. The poor lady was quite at sea and her pain doubled after realizing her partner's betrayal. Being extremely downhearted she flies in the face of the deep sea. She was about to die until a dog saved her life. This new life makes the lady more daring, courageous and independent. The duo (the lady and the dog) starts a new life together.

The term 'Salty Dog' comes from the archaic practice of rubbing salt into the coat of one's favorite dog as a flea repellent. Therefore, one's 'salty dog' is one's favorite person, best friend, and so on. So, from the film title itself, director Murad Abiyev has proved his creativity. It's really boring enough when you have directors who play it safe and make the same kind of films over and over again. In this case, Murad Abiyev already has made his own identity. The story is the soul of the film and injects much energy and freshness into every character. The leading lady Natavan Hajiyeva succeeds in breathing as much life as possible into her character with her charm, personality, and sincere portrayal. And the last but not the least, the dog was extremely adorable and also surprised us by his/her innocent acting. Camera work and cinematography is brilliant.

It is bad enough when a stranger or foe betrays us, but it is worse when someone we believe to be a close and trusted backstabs us. It feels like we are left in disbelief and unbelievable pain. But it is the drastic truth of life which we can't change. Two lonely souls can create a perfect relationship with trust, affection, love, and care. "The Salty Sea Dog" is the perfect reflection of that.

Arindam Bhunia/Cult Critic/CICFF

Kill the Engine
(2017)

Laughing at things that make us uncomfortable
Fade in … A big, hollow, steady drumbeat begins to play. We're looking head-on at the outside of a classic red barn somewhere in the rural countryside. Cut to … a close-up of a garden hose duct-taped on one end to a car's muffler. Jump cut to … a side-view of the car. We see the hose has been inserted into the car's window and sealed with more shiny silver tape. The steady beat of the drum continues. Inside the car are three men: sullen, depressed … ready to die. The man in the driver's seat attempts to start the car. It won't start. The drumming stops.

"Kill the Engine" is a twisted little buddy film about three men who attempt to commit suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning. The car, or perhaps some universal intelligence would have it otherwise. The engine will not start and the trio is therefore unable to finish their plan to take that long road trip in the sky. This turn of events inspires them to work together to fix the car so that they can finish their final group project. The relationship between the three is both ridiculous and charming. It is apparent that they have experienced a lot of life together.

There is some laugh out loud moments in the dialogue conjured by "The Minor Prophets", Gil Damon, Steve Kuzmick, and David Amadio. The trio is 100% believable as long-time friends who have given up on life and want to end it all in the same way they lived it, together. Their true friendship shines through and is part of what makes their interactions so entertaining. Damon and Kuzmick play the typical buddy film duo who are like a couple that has been married since high school, while Amadio cracks one-liners that make him the "nagging parent".

Director Derek Frey has a lot of experience with stories that are bent. He has "helmed Tim Burton Productions since 2001", and more recently produced "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children for Twentieth Century Fox and Big Eyes for The Weinstein Company." The influence of this Dark Comedy style of filmmaking shows in Frey's short film through the positioning of the characters within the frame and the angle of the camera. In the shot above, Frey has the camera angled up and the characters framed in a tight close-up, giving the impression that not only is the trio looking at the engine, they are being observed. Maybe the engine not starting wasn't just a case of bad timing. Maybe there is a lesson here to learn.

The comedy in "Kill the Engine" lies in the relationship between these three misfortunate souls, who consequently are not so misfortunate after all. The theme of depression and suicide is no laughing matter. Yet, the response to laughing at things that make us uncomfortable or scare us is not unusual. University studies have led psychologists to agree that "having an opposite reaction to an emotional situation helps to regulate emotional responses". Derek Frey's, Kill the Engine elicits this response and by placing three lifelong friends in the situation together, he leaves us feeling that connection to others is the ultimate answer.

Helen Wheels/Cult Critic/ CICFF

Chrysalis
(2017)

Unique story and really good direction makes this film quite interesting
"Chrysalis" is a short film that beautifully portrays transformation. It portrays the victory of good over evil and the gap between birth and death. It shows the formula of destruction in one hand, and reconstitution on the other hand. The film portrays weirdness on one hand, and on the other hand, it brings serenity, beauty, and birth of a new life. This film can fit in the genres of experimental, postmodern, occult, religious, spiritual, mystical, hermetic, cult, metaphysical.

"Chrysalis" is an experimental film by first-time filmmaker Nic Nassuet; a multi-ethnic, disabled, veteran, award-winning songwriter and recording artist. "Chrysalis" has its roots in the alchemical process of transmutation as experienced via the transition from the military into civilian life as a disabled veteran. The film was created for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's (LACMA) Veterans Make Movies program in which veterans study filmmaking and create their own short films for the museum's archives in just eight weeks.

"Chrysalis" is the only movie of any length to have ever filmed on location in the tombs beneath the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Through the intention imbued into every effect, color, sound, click, knock, angle, set, and frame, the cycles of creation, sustenance, and destruction, are exemplified as are the Masonic, Rosicrucian, and Eastern mysteries as they relate to the "Solve et Coagula" formula of destruction and reconstitution.

The title "Chrysalis" is necessarily written entirely in capital letters. This is because the external state of Chrysalis is outwardly still and silent, while the internal state is one of noise and ordered chaos.

Overall, the film carries a message of cultural understanding. That though we do not understand each other's language, we can make out what one has to say through gestures, colors, and symbols and moods. For example, when we see the color red we understand that it either means danger or happiness. The color white symbolizes peace and mourning. In the eastern culture white means death, while in the western culture black symbolizes death and white is for peace. Whenever we tell people to keep quite we put our finger in our mouth telling others to keep quite.

Therefore, the Director Nic Nassuet through his debut film tries to portray the ideas of destruction and formation. Though the film is difficult to understand, it carries an in-depth meaning. It shows the whole cycle of life. "Chrysalis" portrays the process of creation, sustenance, and destruction.

It cannot be ignored that the film can be made better, but as a debut film, it's worth watching. Unique story, really good direction made the film quite interesting. Though people cannot understand the film for the first time, surely arouses the interest of the audience to watch it once more. Their mind would surely tell them to watch "Chrysalis" once more to understand the story.

There's a saying, every small thing becomes good that arouses the interest of people. Good is something that provokes people to watch or speak about it again and again. Good is something that stays in your mind and does not let you forget it. Undoubtedly, "Chrysalis" falls into this category.

Riya Saha/Cult Critic/CICFF

Len
(2017)

Visually stunning, "Len" smells of freshness in every frame and touches your heart in every second
Girl abuse, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, when directors choose such unusual topics they must have some intentions. Yes, firstly their intention should be to give a message to the society and also their intention should be the same. And I really have a great respect for these directors. And after watching the award-winning film "Len", director Waldemar Oldenburger has not only included him in the list rather he made me one of his biggest fans. Having such a distinctive and unique topic how romantic and eye-soothing a movie can be you can never imagine unless you watch the film. The story is about Leonard. A soft-spoken, sweet boy lives with his elder sister Tina. Tina is in the police. Due to her hectic schedule, Tina can't take proper care to Len, though she loves him a lot. Leonard is in love with his school principal's daughter Hanna though she did not say it yes. One day on the way to school Len saved Hanna from some of their schoolboys who misbehaved with her. But he was surprised when the principal took the matter so lightly and advised Len to stay out of these matters for his good future. Len got his reward as Hanna accepted his love and kisses him. But on the day only Len becomes at fault when he discovers that the principal himself abuses his own daughter Hanna. Len wants Tina's help, But for some past reason Tina disbelief Len and refused him. Desperate Len took stills Tina's official weapon and attacked Hanna's father. Len made the culprit confess his guilt, but the poor boy can't get his love ever and takes his last breath at the gunpoint of police.

Director Waldemar Oldenburger has beautifully procured current and bygone set of circumstances in his film. "Len" is 'visually' stunning, 'smells' of freshness in every frame and 'touches' your heart in every second. Every performance in the film is well accomplished. Playing such a character with so much innocence and expressions, the young boy is simply outstanding in every aspect and definitely wins your heart unconditionally. All the actors are very lively and perfect in their respective roles. Especially the last scene, where Len gives the proof of Hanna's father's guilt to his sister Tina and dies with a satisfactory smile on his face took my eye.

The film is all about relationships. A relationship between a brother and a sister, a relationship between two friends and true lovers. In this so-called modern age also a girl feels helpless and can't protest or confess properly about domestic violence and sexual abuse. Till date, our social structure has shut these innocent's and victim's mouth. But where the devil is present there definitely will be a divine being. Leonard is like the messenger of God in Hanna's life. We need films like "Len" more and more to save thousands of 'Hannas' in our society. I want to give director Waldemar Oldenburger lots of kudos for his outstanding work.

Arindam Bhunia/Cult Critic/CICFF

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