Consider this a mission or statement of purpose for next year’s film coverage. The seed of the idea began at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where I decided to go, as I stated, where the frames took me. I wasn’t interested in chasing the potential mainstream hits and misses. Instead, I wanted to wander into strange new worlds, exotic places with familiarity embedded not in fanfare and star power (despite my nomenclature), but rather, in the intimacy of exchanges — between characters in scenes and between the story/storyteller and the audiences — because I wanted to be truly and richly engaged. Tommy Rueff over at Happen Inc. in Northside defines his non-profit’s programming intent through a desire to entertain, educate and empower the kids and families who participate in their activities and events. Well, I went out seeking films focused on doing the same for audiences.
And so, we will boldly go into 2013 with this in mind and heart. Star Trek Into Darkness may blind us momentarily or the moving frames of Marvel’s second phase may pummel and assault our senses, but we — you and I — will scour the frames for our own next phases, the next steps in our journey down the yellow brick road of discovery.
This year forced me to reconsider a few philosophical notions I had carved in mental stone. The first signature adage being that film is for the big screen. For as long as I care to remember, the movie-going experience centered on a trip to an art house or multiplex (whether first, second or retrospective viewing) and settling down for an exclusive encounter with the projected frames dancing on the screen.
I haven’t completely given up on this, but I am willing to concede that film is a part of a larger state of mind.
Futurestates.tv produces short films for the Internet that challenge audiences to stare into a dark future lens and presents reflections that more than pass the eye test. More than tapping into our sense of things to come, these features, now in their third season, offer a prescient vision rooted in the tense present situations and realities that we refuse to confront. The mirror that they hold up to us is what is to come, if we do what we’re doing now — nothing.
Beyond the narratives though, Futurestates, which I’ve written about previously in The Alternative, serves as a forum for what could be the next wave of visionaries (both indie and mainstream), the training ground for them to experiment with story and style. And the thought-provoking shorts produced are ready-made calling cards to initiate Kickstarter campaigns for bigger and better projects, in essence allowing the Internet to become a de facto studio with the audience as producers and executives with the ability to greenlight new works.
This is the reel Brave New World — far more intriguing than Huxley’s, because the tools put us in charge, if we are willing to assume a reasonable degree of responsibility. So often, film helps us look back (docs have been fascinating for their cold case takes), but let’s see them take us forward.
Let’s look for the next It-Girl, like Tracey Heggins, who has lurked along the indie margins thanks to her leading role in the 2008 Barry Jenkins black bohemian rom-com Medicine for Melancholy and, in 2012, was featured in the indie shorts The Last/First Kiss (as a soon-to-be married woman momentarily sidetracked by a handsome stranger) and Cherry Waves (as a female underground fighter trying to make a living for herself and her pregnant lover) as well as the Sheldon Candis urban drama LUV. Of course, she gained the most attention for her brief appearance in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, a role that relegated her to little more than arm and eye candy as an exotic rainforest vampire who comes to the aid of the Cullens.
Heggins, and many others like her, should be on our radars. Most of the truly fascinating work out there is available thanks to the Internet and the new movie streaming sites and devices on the market. Film and the theater experience will not die away in 2013, nor will it suffer a deathblow due to technology. Film can’t and won’t die as long as filmmakers and performers like Heggins exist and continue to have the opportunity to tell their stories, their way.
If we approach the new year as seekers, then we will realize that there is much to find and celebrate.
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