Hey, blogspot readers, lights ...cameras ...ACTION! Tonight, this reviewer ditched the rock scene for the bright dazzling lights of the cinema screen. Southside attended the monthly screen at the Midwest Independent Film Festival. Held at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema, this festival is the only one of its kind in the US that presents independent movies solely produced from the Midwest (i.e. Indiana, Wisconsin, etc) region. It's a year long event with showings every first Tuesday of each month. Co-founders Mike McNamara and Michael Kwielford started this to celebrate and strengthen as well as collaborate ties within the independent film community. With help from sponsors like Resolution Digital Studio, O'Connor Casting, Illinois Film Office, the Midwest Independent Film Festival is also made possible by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council (which receives funds from National Endowment for the Arts). For more information, visit www.midwestfilm.org.
This month's featured screening was a music video - Bring Yourself by local rockers, Oh My God and premiere showing of Annabelle & Bear. It was also dubbed as Canon Night at this indie film fest in which SouthSide viewed some exclusive camera shot tests from Zacuto's "Great Camera Shootout!". It was an informative discussion about DSLRs that included showing and comparing the different camera resolutions and how it's changing the face of filmmaking today. She enjoyed the rockin' stop animation video by a director from Madrid, Spain shot entirely in 7D resolution. Meanwhile, she highly recommends checking out Oh My God's latest video to their song, Bring Yourself. Though never hearing this local band's music before, she liked the theme conveyed which was the perfect lead-in to tonight's movie premiere of Annabelle & Bear. This video, animated in black and white comic/cartoonish style, depicted the sense of hopelessness and pain within the main character's life behind the backdrop of destruction and war. SouthSide liked how director Dan Bigelow (of Adult Swim) incorporated parts of the lyrics throughout different scenes of this video. It was a song about the reality all of us have problems which sometimes never seem to get any easier. For more information about Oh My God, visit www.ohmygodmusic.com or www.myspace.com/ohmygod.
SouthSide highly recommends viewing Annabelle & Bear by director/filmmaker Amy Weber starring Curt Massof (as Bear) and cute little Olivia Walby (as Annabelle). This heartwarming cinematic feature is a bout a loner known as Bear who is unexpectedly thrusted into the role of fatherhood when his junkie ex-girlfriend dumps his daughter, Annabelle, on his hands. Instantly his world changes in a flash as he faces the responsibility for raising and caring for someone who needs him (and his love) when he doesn't really know how to take care of himself. And at the same time, he learns what it truly means to be loved by someone else while gradually letting Annabelle win over his stone heart. Bear also learns what it means to be a father even though feeling he's the unlucky choice for such a role to this little girl. As a sudden single dad, Bear quickly soon realizes how having a child changes your life ...and that his lifestyle doesn't really have room (or the time) for a child like Annabelle. In a sense, he's not ready to be a responsible father nor is he equipped to handle this new concept of parenthood thus forcing him to confront the issue that caused the breakup in communication between him and his mother. He needs her help now more than ever and decides it's best for Annabelle to stay with her.
As the film progresses, he realizes that no matter what he thinks is best for this little may not be the best after all as the bond between father and daughter grow stronger while on a road trip to his mother's place in Maine. It takes a frightening medical situation (Annabelle's asthma attack) and some friendly advice a motel owner (portrayed by Olivia Walby's real life grandfather) for Bear to realize that Annabelle needs him in her life (and vice versa). He really doesn't want to leave this precious little girl so far away with his mother ...he wants to be there for her. However there's a major problem in all of this when Annabelle's mother unexpectedly appears in Maine. She wants her daughter back with blind promises of entering a rehab program to get clean when they return home. Yet, that's far from the truth, blogspot readers. She takes off with Annabelle during the middle of the night leaving Bear heartbroken as his world comes to a crashing halt. Feeling that heartache and pain as any parent would for their missing child, he searches high and low for Annabelle with the help of his friends and mother.
Sorry but there are no movie spoilers posted here - but SouthSide can only tell you there is a happy ending. You have to see this touching (and yes, you will cry during certain moments too) indie film yourself. This reviewer, being a hardworking mom of two herself, clearly felt and understood Bear's pain when he had to rush Annabelle to the hospital or the joy she brought to his life as they spent quality time together. Cute Olivia Walby will literally steal your heart. She explodes onto the screen with such innocence of a child who manages to be happy little girl even though seeing so much evilness in her young life ...and that little cherub face of hers will tug on even the hardest of hearts each time she's with Curt Massof. There's definite natural connection between these two actors which made their interaction so realistic and believable. And Curt as the tough yet lovable Bear simply wowed this reviewer with his first acting role. She hopes to more from this actor/film editor in the near future. SouthSide liked how Amy and her production team truly depicted the desperation of Annabelle's mother looking for that quick fix to the scary scenes within the crack houses. This reviewer found herself laughing, crying and cheering (sometimes at the same time) throughout this film. Annabelle & Bear is the perfect movie to treat not just Mom for Mother's Day but any parent ...in fact she highly suggests everyone seeing this movie - perhaps it will get major nationwide distribution soon. And if this movie ever gets released on DVD, be certain, blogspot readers, that this wonderful indie movie will be a part of her collection. For more information about this movie, www.annabelleandbear.com.
In closing, actors Olivia Walby and Curt Massoff (as well other cast members) and director Amy Weber were in attendance Tuesday night for this premiere. Also so was Dan Bigelow for the mini Q & A session after the movie and the afterparty which was held at Forno Diablo.
Until next time, support your local scene,