San Diego International Film Festival as members of the press. The 'festival pass' grants pass-holders entry into all of the fun parties, informative movie panels, lounges, and most importantly, film screenings. A few celebrities were even honored at this year's awards ceremony, including Kate Beckinsale, Simon Helberg, Jason Mitchell, and Annette Bening. As film reviewers, we were interested in catching as many films as possible and were lucky enough to see quite a few over the four day affair. Despite the outrageous cost of parking at Horton Plaza, the 90+ degree heat each day of the festival, and the massive construction going on at UTC, it was all worth it in the end. We saw 10 different movies/series of short films in 4 days and had a blast doing it! Here are some of the highlights from SDiFF 2016.
"Borrowed Time" - A short film made by two Pixar animators in their off time, "Borrowed Time" is impeccably animated, crisp and polished, and also packs a heck of a punch emotionally. Though it uses minimal dialogue, it is still tremendously effective in its execution. 7.5/10. (Google "Borrowed Time" and you should be able to watch this short online via Vimeo.com)
"The Eagle Huntress" - Documentaries are often very depressing and dower in their subject matter. "The Eagle Huntress" is a rare documentary that is not only inspirational, but is also uplifting, sweet, touching, and extremely moving. The protagonist, Aisholpan, has infectious smile and will stop at nothing to become the first female eagle hunter in her community. A must see! 9/10. (released in the US on Nov. 2nd, 2016)
"Fear, Inc." - Though Halloween has just passed, "Fear, Inc." is the perfect choice for those who are not quite willing to let the holiday go just yet. It will satisfy horror lovers no matter the month! It's a breezy, awesomely gory, well paced slasher with an interesting concept and a lot of laughs. 7.5/10. (available now on all video on demand services)
"Julieta" - Directed by the incomparable Pedro Almodóvar, "Julieta" is an honest, character driven story about a woman writing a letter to her daughter about all of choices she has made in her life that put her where she is right now. Full of excellent acting, breathtaking visuals, and a compelling story, it's no wonder why Spain has chosen this film as its submission for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award race. 8.5/10. (released in the US on Dec. 21st, 2016)
"Moom" - A deeply moving story told within a very short time period, "Moom" packs so much emotion into such a little box. Brilliantly created and beautifully animated, we both found ourselves touched by this fantastic animated short, one that we hope gets noticed come Oscar season! 10/10. (n/a)
"Partners" - It's truly incredible what filmmakers can accomplish in well structured, well made short films! "Partners" is both relatable and honest in the way it displays a fight between lovers, but it also has a wonderful underlying humor to it all as it ends with a simple display of affection even through bickering. 8/10. (n/a)
"Snake Bite" - Though we have no way of knowing if this short film will ever be released, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention "Snake Bite," one of the most daring things we watched during the San Diego film festival. As a group of young friends searches the woods for snakes, one of boys is bitten, but instead of risking the time it would take to get an adult, drastic measures are taken to save his life...and it may not end how you'd expect. We loved this tense short film. 8.5/10. (n/a)