Best of Lonely Wolf #22LWIFF:Poetic Hysteria, Regret & Dystopian Worlds
Wednesday 4 January 2023 09:00 GMT+1 / 03:00 EST
By Adrian Perez, CEO/Founder & Chief Film Critic
Lonely Wolf have confirmed a record-high volume of 1,804 film project submissions in 2022, with more women directors at the directorial helm than ever before, according to CEO & Founder Adrian Perez, "the male:female ratio (now 70:30) is slowly balancing itself compared to what it was during our earlier days in 2020 (before 90:10). This shows progress and we're thrilled."
Only 67 total audiovisual projects (3.7%) made official selection and virtual exhibition over an exclusive 10-day window (23-31 December 2022).
This 9th season of the Lonely Wolf International Film Festival #22LWIFF has fascinated its jury by a recurrence in the usage of specific symbology, spatial dimensionality and colouration; some independent auteurs from different corners of the globe have gravitated towards a joint thematic intersection of mechanical asphyxia at the hands of psychotic denial and delusional projection. Complex inner turmoil depicted within the claustrophobic interiors of automobiles, basements and often a very helmet or breathing mask. A generation of filmmakers breathing new meanings of cognitive defence into all sorts of headgear within tales set in current day dystopia. These mutual cinematographic deployments are sparking a new wave and have inspired the curation of unique film blocks this season, one titled “Collisions And Dead-Ends In Confined Spaces.”
The paid media campaign behind this season's festival trailer (available to watch here) reached 639,743 people, of which the virtual festival enjoyed 2,261 official attendees in free ticket sales and 8,138 total film streams for the duration of the film festival.
Amongst the most watched titles were the award-sweeper of the season Midday Black Midnight Blue (USA) with its 5 wins and a further 3 nominations, directed by Samantha Soule & Daniel Talbott, produced by Lovell Holder, starring Chris Stack, Merritt Wever, Samantha Soule and Will Pullen, all nominated for their leading and supporting performances, with the latter two winning in their respective award categories.
Deliverance (Hong Kong), directed by Kelvin Shum, another highly praised film this season that stands out in the crowded landscape of modern cinema; the film tells the story of a fractured family struggling to come to terms with their mother's passing, and explores the use of hypnosis to reconnect with the past. Kelvin Shum has masterful control over the film, creating a cohesive and emotionally resonant narrative; highly recommended for its great storytelling, breathtaking mise-en-scene, and masterful direction.
The Sitges acclaimed Unheimlich (Mexico), directed by Fabio Colonna, drew many viewers with its aforementioned popularity; and plenty of the live-action and CGI sci-fi award contenders of the season were amongst the top 5 most watched daily, with The Eye: Calathek (USA), directed by Aaron Sims, Distance - Act I: The Peacock And The Sphinx (Canada), directed by Eddy Loukil, WhatKilledTimmyBenson (Netherlands), directed by Nick Cremers, Transfert (France), directed by Jonathan Degrelle, and Anomaly (Indonesia), directed by Brian Tan, all dominating.
Another selected title to spark discussion was The Duel (USA), directed by Justin Matthews, for its star casting in Dylan Sprouse, also nominated for his leading role.
The music videos of the season also sparked virtual discussion, with the award-sweeper, experimental, and socio-political Enough (USA), directed by Caleb Slain, but more so the music video and original song Jungle Go Dumb (USA), performed by Biscuit, directed by Jonathan Haddad & Nino Graff, featuring the multi-Grammy award winner Will.i.am.
Another of our highest awards of the season is the Outstanding Contribution To Independent Filmmaking Award and we're thrilled this season to present it to Elly Yae Li Cho. The Eclipse: Recognized By The Sound and Sum (Republic of Korea) are two differing, highly-exhibited, multi-award winning audiovisual canvases that share Elly Yae Li Cho's artistic imprint for subtextual richness, narrative silence, experimental and poetic hysteria. Sum is Elly Cho's most complex canvas yet, both on a logistical and psychoanalytic front, ever soothing to watch with its captivating, dreamlike, whilst biblical declaration on personal freedom and existentialism. The Eclipse: Recognized By The Sound, pushes beyond a declaration to an academic text worthy of study and deconstruction, Elly Cho's most transgressive of the two art films, for its trauma-focused psychotherapy via the hands of visual storytelling, its defragmented narratology shows Dziga Vertov's very life-caught-unawares theorem as it replicates real psychogenic amnesia and recurring depersonalisation. Elly Cho's artistic DNA imprint merges both a beauty and trauma for life, Cho finds much sanctuary in untouched natural ecosystems and is a true mental health advocator, but above all here's one of the most talented and innovative film directors of our generation.
Our awards of honour, our Outstanding Achievement awards go to...
Guide On (USA), directed by Paige Compton, with its frequent nods in up to 7 category long-lists, proves a short film with a simple plot and clear message, masterful direction, brimming with emotion, exciting and inspiring in equal parts. Much credit goes to its Hollywoodian scenography and character depth in Halle Varro, played by the plethoric Shawntelle Lee, who, under the direction of Compton, manages to bring out her full potential and to whom we predict a bright future in the film industry.
Once Upon A Time Tonino Delli Colli (Italy), directed by Paolo Mancini & Claveriano Salizzato; superb directorial job of not only showcasing Delli Colli's stunning work but also delving into the details of his career and the impact he had on the film industry. Delli Colli's work is nothing short of artistic genius, with every frame of the film feeling like a subtextual, poetic masterpiece. The way he captures light and emotion on screen is simply breathtaking. The directors' research and attention to detail in presenting this thesis were evident and added depth and richness to the documentary. Magical documentary, a must-see.
Blind Truth (USA), directed by Laura Burnett with a masterful equilibrium of tension-building, character depth and vulnerability, and to top it all off impeccable performances. An impressive short thriller demonstrating Laura Burnett's extraordinary talent as a director.
Method (Canada), directed by Vincent Di Lella; delivers genuine scares and tension. Much to admire in its experimental resourcefulness, Daniella Alexis's standout performance and Di Lella's directorial poise, only iconic horror directors like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg can create the sense of dread and unease that lingers long after this film is over, it's a very impressive horror short film.
Languishing (USA), directed by Mike Mytnick, exhibits a cohesive and immersive world, with Mytnick's creative imprint all over it from experimental aesthetics and its many bold, and innovative, approaches to visual storytelling. Mytnick is not afraid to take risks, and that's what makes him such a compelling director. Languishing's a powerful reflection on the global feeling of isolation and uncertainty many of us have experienced in recent years.
Hindi Mama (Taiwan), directed by Wei Yang Chen, also missed the mark ever so slightly, and proves a micro-short film with exuberant potential. A sharp critique of the extortionate work schedules and other shortcomings of the US filmmaking system. Chen displays a strong understanding of pacing and how to keep the viewer engaged, and his use of visuals and sound design is impressive for such a short film. With a little more experience and practice, he has the potential to join the ranks of the elite in the film industry. We encourage him to continue honing his skills as a director and look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
ZomB&B and Misery Man (USA), both written by Harrison Myles; both differing multi award-winning scripts but with Myles' dark comedy imprints omnipresent throughout. Making the top shortlists, these are sure-bet scripts for their commercial appeal, especially ZomB&B, for its bright and diverse ensemble of lead protagonists, and many thrills and scares; it's the zombiepocalypse hysteria we've come to love in Marc Forster's World War Z (2013), merged with the masterclass in multi-strand narrative storytelling and character depth that marks James Cameron's Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022). Misery Man is a different level of poetic hysteria, regret and psychopathology, unlike anything ever written, about a kind man who loses his way in the brink of success, a sure award-sweeper to bet on, remarkable narratological structure and character depth.
Shooter On The Grassy Knoll (USA), written by a true veteran in the multi award-winning James Schlicker, makes 2nd Place Best Historical Drama, and the top shortlists for Best Thriller and Best Feature Screenplay. A compelling thematic exploration into relapsing psychosis (schizophrenia), dementia praecox and inferiority complex; but most fascinating character arc behind the sniper responsible for President Kennedy's death. A sure investment that's on the RED LIST.