Father & Daughter Film Report
In only its second year, the Twister Alley Film Festival is already considered the premier film festival in Oklahoma by film makers and audiences around the world.
Great films? Twister Alley has this in abundance thanks to the careful selections by creative directors Josh Hope (writer/director of the critically acclaimed The Life & Death of an UnHappily Married Man) and TJ Treece (writer/director of Hitchcockish Dead Weight) who have such a large selection that our report can not be done in simply one report - hence the "Part I" at the top of the page.
Great Festival? One has to come here in order to experience why this is the film festival that most film makers really want to come to...this is truly a festival by film makers for film makers...great films, great food, and wonderful possibilities to network with other film makers all during the festival. But one where the audience gets to enjoy these treats as well.
Contributing to this fabulous experience is the Woodward Convention & Visitors Bureau, that under the direction of Jennifer Newton-Madara gives film makers a wonderful first impression by picking them up at the Oklahoma City airport, then driving them 140 miles in comfort to Woodward (built in the panhandle of Oklahoma, almost precisely midway between Amarillo, Texas and Wichita Kansas).
What film festival does anything near that?
But there's more...lots more. One gets to experience unrivaled Oklahoma hospitality by arriving in town to the music of a marching band, a special BBQ for film makers before the opening night film at the absolutely stunning Woodward theater, then several after parties and get-togethers before finally arriving in your luxurious - complimentary hotel room - yes, that's right...you get selected into Twister Alley and you're already a winner, they take care of nearly everything for each film maker & screenplay writer the entire festival.
The magnificent downtown theater in Woodward, Oklahoma
by Walker Haynes
Finally we got to see this film! This was (and still is being) selected at film festivals all over the world, and by clicking the image below you'll see why simply from the trailer. We missed this at several past festivals where it has been collecting award after award (for example, at the International Family Film Festival, where they had three screening rooms going on all at once, it was totally impossible to see everything even as a Father/Daughter team). Seen the trailer? Then now you perhaps can imagine what a great story this film reveals, and why we are so happy to finally see it!
Besides being beautifully filmed, the acting was simply superb, one rides the roller coaster of discovery into the mysterious unknown plot & time paradox right along with the characters.
Walker Haynes (Samuel Adams, CSI: NY) not only writes & directs, but gives a stunning performance as a time traveling actor, along with with Glen Mac (Law & Order: LA, Unforgettable), Ida Anderson (Love Shack, Hawaii), and Creagen Dow (The Big Bang Theory, CSI: NY).
You've all seen lots time travel movies, but not one as refreshing as this in how the paradox is in play, which is revealed at a perfect pace. Make sure you see it when it comes to a theater or on-demand or however it comes out near you...it will be very easy to see why this won Best Sci-Fi Feature at Twister Alley, and is racking up similar awards all over the globe.
A must see for science fiction fans, or even if you're not...something exciting for baby boomers, millennials and all generations in between...
It Had to Be You
by Sasha Gordon
Amanda likes a good romantic comedy, and was totally in agreement this unique approach to describing a relationship being chosen Best Comedy Feature Film at Twister Alley. However, to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of this genre, even the 'good ones' are somewhat predictable. Yet this film had me at the edge of my seat in suspense...and laughing all the way!
Both Amanda & I LOVED IT, and that's saying a lot, not only in the fact that this is a real winner of a film from a senior citizen like me and a savvy teenager just out of high school, the psychological and philosophical depth in the writing covers something that should be studied at universities....in PhD level classes.
Yes, it's that good...in the same way Bob Dylan illustrated in his poetry & songs to an entire generation in the early 1960's as to why many were unhappy in their society, Sasaha Gordon dissects the concepts of 21st Century love for this generation in a way that has not been seen since the mid-1800's when Søren Kierkegaard contrasted preferential, agape, & erotic love for existentialists.
In other words, every couple hundred years we need to reflect on how we conceptualize and approach love, and writer/director/composer Gordon contributes to society most relevantly with It Had to Be You....and has us laughing in do so.
Unfortunately we don't have a trailer to show you, however the website's synopsis does an excellent job to give you an idea of the delightful story:
"Sonia is a neurotic jingle writer who’s always dreamt of a big and exciting life. Surprised by a sudden proposal and subsequent ultimatum from her easy-going boyfriend, Chris, Sonia has to decide whether she’ll join the ranks of her married friends or take a leap and pursue her fantasies. A whimsical romantic comedy that’s raunchy and yet gentle, IT HAD TO BE YOU explores the choices women face today while satirizing cultural expectations of gender and romance."
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Clicking on the storyboard below will take you the film's website, which as you can see, offers a variety of entertainment in and of itself:
Writer/Director Sasha Gordon notes this is a very personal film, stating when her husband proposed to her - or tried to, as she puts it - rather than "seeing hearts and hearing violins, I was filled with panic and terror..."
The film's main character, played brilliantly by Cristin Milioti (Wolf of Wall Street, 30-Rock, Fargo, The Sopranos, and was chosen Best Actress in a Feature Film @ Twister Alley) is certainly a personal representation of Sasha, for the jingle writer in the story is indeed a view of the director's early work as a film composer, scoring award-winning works for features, commercials, documentaries, and shorts, the latest being the soundtrack for the Academy Awarding winning short, God of Love.
Look for our interview with Sasha in a later report, but in the meantime, check out her impressive site at: www.sashagordonmusic.com
How to Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps
by Benjamin Berman
Speaking of Award Winning Comedies, Benjamin has award winning credits working as a producer, director, editor, camera, lighting, cinematographer, sound, writer, visual effects...well, you get the idea, and when you check out his short film below, you'll see excellence in each one of these areas, which is probably why it won Best Comedy Short at Twister Alley.
No need to tell you about the film, just click the image below & see the entire film for yourself....we think you'll love it too...
...now, wasn't that hilarious? But somehow, painfully pure, profound, and precise too. In making a social commentary, that is...don't you think so too?
A Way Out
by Jason Tostevin
Two killers. Two secrets. Only one is getting out.
That's what's on the poster (which won Best Poster at Twister Alley, by the way) and is actually an excellent tag line to introduce you to this intense story.
Being a short, and the extreme delicate reveal of the story, just about anything more we say here will probably be a spoiler, and we certainly don't want to do that...so we'll just share with you the logline Hands Off Productions has for you:
"For aging gangster Vic, a ride with his upstart protege becomes a twisted game of cat and mouse when both killers discover the other has been keeping a deadly secret."
With basically just two characters to carry the entire film, plus being set mostly in a moving car, a director must have some master-class actors to draw you in and make this work, which happens in spades with Robert Costanzo (Total Recall, Saturday Night Fever, Die Hard 2) as the aging Vic, and Adam Hampton (Rough Cut, The Celler, When I Find Bin Laden).
Did I mention the story was intense and took place mostly in a moving car? Besides acting, another powerful element of film-making that added to the drama was the lighting. Not since The Great Escape (1963) with Steve McQueen or Orlando (1992) with Tilda Swinton have we seen a film where the lighting did so much to set the mood or add another element of character to the film....and again this was all done with basically two guys in a car....a moving car at that. Pretty impressive feat, visually.
However, read on and it will become clear how director Jason Tostevin has not only pulled off this impressive feat in lighting to set the mood AND tell the story, but in many other areas of film production as well...
Jason also won Best Emerging Artist at Twister Alley, but if you check out his IMBd page and demo reel there, you'll see he has tons of credits as a producer, writer, director, just to name a few, plus has some pretty impressive productions for companies such as Acura, McGraw-Hill, Newell Rubbermaid, Victoria's Secret, Honda, The Discovery Channel, and even his alma mater, Ohio State University.
He is also no stranger to winning at films on criminal matters - which the poster clearly indicates - so we won't be giving too much away when we tell you he has also won Best Crime Short at Lionshead Film Festival (Dallas) with his 2015 film I Owe You.
We're certain you're going to be hearing about this young film maker, and seeing a lot of his work many times in the future...
Well, we're not even close to showing you a tip of the iceberg of all the great films at Twister Alley...yet. So check back soon for Part II, where we will cover the clever films from local Oklahoma film makers, an interview with the student film winners, the weird, dark, and/or twisted films at the Midnight Showing, as well as some items from the Twisted Toons section.
Can't wait? OK, we know how you feel, so we'll give you a sneak preview of a Twisted Toon below:
Click on the image below to see the ENTIRE Film
Warning - in some states this film would be rated "R"
...come to think of it, perhaps the name Twister Alley, which we thought was a geographical reference (the city of Woodward does have historical association to a devastating tornado, and is right in the heart of what is known as Tornado Alley), however, it could also be a double-entendre to some of the twisted films found in the festival we are so thankful for...
Hopefully, now you are starting to get an idea of what type of wonderful films, events, and hospitality that goes on at the Twister Alley Film Festival, and with the map on the right to illustrate its location, now you know where it is.
So there's no excuse not to start making plans, and get your film or screenplay submitted for next year to experience one of the best film festivals around, and that's not just our opinion, just ask any film maker who's been here...