DIFF 2016 – A LOOK BACK

Director Keith Maitland had two documentaries at DIFF 2016.  His animated look at the 1966 sniper attack at The University of Texas took home DIFF's 2016's Texas Grand Jury Prize.  Keith's films were a few of the quality choices made by James Faust, Sarah Harris, Daniel Laabs and the DIFF team for the 10th annual festival.  Click through for my picks of the Top Ten Films and my favorite ten interviews. 

DIFF 2016 – TOP TEN FILMS BY GADI ELKON:

The DIFF 2016 award winners list make up a significant amount of my top ten.  Here is the full list of winners.

Ten favorite films of the festival.

10.  IN VIEW – DIRECTOR Ciaran Creagh

This emotional rollercoaster tackles alcoholism and depression with a dark reality that is refreshing and haunting.  A tremendous performance by Caoilfhionn Dunne, as RUTH, continues to amaze from opening scene to the final tragic elements of the film.  One of the really moving fictional pieces at the festival.  Ciaran had a really enlightening sit down interview with me about the film.

9.  THE LAND – DIRECTOR Steven Caple Jr.

Steven Caple Jr.'s feature film debut dives into a world he's all to familiar.  The world that is Cleveland.  Caple's story follows four young skateboarders who's journey takes them into a drug-filled world of fear and pain.  The four lead characters all shine on screen as they reflect different folks in Caple's past and allow this debut film to be as fresh and real as could be.  The DIFF 2016 opening night film was entertaining and moving.  IFC Films will look to push this to the masses and it's well worth your time and money.  Steven had a fun chat with me on the red carpet about THE LAND.

8.  REBOUND – DIRECTOR – Shaina Koren Allen

The documentary tackles not only wheelchair sports, but also looks into the lives, the athletic nature and the emotional connection the sport has on the men who live it.  A suprisingly moving sports doc that doesn't harp on cliches but rather looks at the wheelchair world with an open eye.  Shaina and Michael Esposito have created a fascinating documentary. 

7.  TAKIM (The Team) – DIRECTOR – Emre Sahin

Soccer is a global sport that connects all types of different people.  Emre Sahin's powerfully moving take on a street soccer tournament that impacts a family and their soccer complex they are trying to save.  Beautifully shot film that captures the speed and skill of street soccer but also the ever changing world of modern Turkey.  Emre and Producer Kelly McPherson sat down with me for an in-depth chat about their film, the changing state of Turkey and soccer as a whole.

SHORT FILM FAVORITES:

6.  SO GOOD TO SEE YOU – DIRECTOR – Duke Merriman

Duke's dark comedy looks at what happens when the truth comes out.  Sienna Miller gives a great performance as the friend who's real feelings about her friends comes to life.  The short film is many folks worst freaking nightmare and Duke Merriman captures every painful moment that happens.  Don't let your true feelings come out!!

5.  THUNDER ROAD – DIRECTOR – Jim Cummings

Jim Cummings sweet take on a grown son's final farewell to his beloved mother was one of the funniest films I saw at DIFF 2016.  The short captures the humilation and comfort of taking a leap of faith.  A bold choice to give his mother a final moment with her favorite singer.  Just pure joy as a short film.  Hope more folks get a chance to catch this hilarious and poignant short film.

4.  FATA MORGANA – DIRECTOR – Emelie Wen

A powerfully subtle look at two parents different ways to grieve the loss of their child.  A bridge of Chinese and American values and cultures brought together by the tragic nature of death.  But Emelie's short film is most powerful in the sense of lost love in this married couple.  Easily the most strikingly powerful film in the shorts section at this year's festival.  An award winner that captures so many powerful emotions in only a 20 minute look at this couple. 

TOP THREE FAVORITE FILMS:

3. EMBERS – DIRECTOR – Claire Carré

Intelligent take on a future destroyed by a lack of memory.  Beautifully shot and acted film that takes the time to confound you into a state of entrancement.  A real gem of a film that given the right push could be a perfect indie-hit.  Check out my fun email interview with Claire and Producer/Co-Writer Charles Spano, here.

2. SLASH – DIRECTOR – Clay Liford

Writer/Director Clay Liford has always had a finger on something special with each project.  His short film version fo Slash was a bit more Harry Potter and sweet.  But this feature length reimagining is bold, sexy and really freaking funny.  The film has a sense of humor that is just perfect for the communities it's highlighting.   Two stand-out lead actors really shine and showcase the film's unique youthful feel blended with a dark witty adult nature. 

1. TRANSPECOS – DIRECTOR – Greg Kwedar

There are plenty of border films.  Some are quite amazing like any of Guillermo Arriga's films, Transpecos is a kin to those films.  The movie looks at three border patrol officers who go on a dangerous journey.  It's a film that touches on all the hot button issues, but purely stays in the realm of these three guys.  Who they are.  Why they are their and what choices they made/make.  A film that doesn't hold back with it's pacing and mixes in a sad reality with the powerful music of the National (genius!).  Easily can see this film seen in multiplexes around the country.  Greg, Producer/Writer Clint Bentley, and star Johnny Simmons had an enlightening chat with me about the film, here.

Gadi's Favorite Ten Interviews:

10.  Director Greg Kwedar, Producer/Writer Clint Bentley and Star Johnny Simmons – TRANSPECOS

I have the link above, but had to post this interview again.  I love the film and think this is a quality sneak peak into the film.  Enjoy again!

9.  Bobby Miller – THE MASTER CLEANSE

8. Eamon Downey, Tim Chumley, Judy Gass, & Willie Baronet – SIGNS OF HUMANITY

7.  John Ecker, David Friendly, and Veronica Falcon – QUEEN OF THE SOUTH

6.  Isabella Wing-Davey – THE RAIN COLLECTOR

5.  Anna Margaret Hollyman & Samantha Buck – THE MINK CATCHER

4.  Berndt Mader – BOOGER RED

3.  Rafi Gavron – THE LAND

2.  Henry Thomas – ET Retrospective Screening and John Williams Tribute

1. Patrick Duffy – HOTEL DALLAS