Author Archives: jerrica.williams

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Andrea Arnold Creates New Kind of Fear with Oscar-winning film Wasp

There are various opinions of a successful horror film: one that involves blood and gore, the quality of suspense, the fear of death, or one that is psychologically troublesome. But what about a story that in 25 minutes can capture a subject matter that not only thousands of people live through, but that millions of others turn a blind eye to ? The 2005 Oscar-winning short film Wasp, directed by Andrea Arnold, redefines the meaning of horror in a painfully disturbing plot about a day in the life of a low-moral and poor-ridden mother who neglects her children. Without obvious intention, Arnold invites us into the film almost acting as social workers by witnessing the horrific cases they must deal with on a regular basis.

The entire idea of neglect is not the most disturbing part of this short film in my eyes. It is the molded bread she prepares to feed her children, and the pacifier that she dips in sugar to give to her infant child (who at the same time is wearing a too small onesie and no diaper). It is the foul language she uses around her children, including within the argument and fight with another mother around her neighborhood. It is the fact she will put her daughters’ lives in danger just to soak in the attention from a childhood crush who has no intent in having their relationship surpass one night. There are an endless amount of things she does that make every inch of my skin crawl, that make me cringe in disgust. Yet, most of all, what is most horrific about this short film, is the insane amount of truth. Neglect is real. What we witnessed IS life for so many children. Watching this film forces us to consider that so many of us are privileged to never have to go through such a tragedy.

In short, I guess the most obvious feeling I got from film would be: I absolutely love my mom.

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Historical Context of ‘Na Wewe’ Proves Itself as an Oscar Frontrunner

In 19 minutes, the cold-hearted truth of the Rwandan genocide and an almost seemingly non-fictitious tale of an everyday occurrence of Hutus vs. Tutsis in Africa is combined to create a storyline of actual reality and importance. Directed and written by Ivan Goldschmidt, Oscar Live-Short nominated drama film Na Wewe sheds light into an historical subject without the bore, while simultaneously not being painfully gruesome. It presents itself as a typical day, where death is only natural, even in the most horrific terms.

“His short is both critical of the racial situation there and the role Europeans have played in it,” says Maria Garcia of The Film Journal. “The title Na Wewe, or ‘you, too,’ is obviously a direct challenge to viewers to imagine themselves as a victim of racial discrimination.” Na Wewe, set in 1994 Africa, tells of a group of ordinary people traveling on the road when their minivan is stopped by members of the Hutu army. As the leader seeds through each individual searching for any Tutsi enemies, the group fears for their lives. Watching the group beg for their freedom, a Caucasian male foreigner witnesses fearfully from inside the van.

What makes this film Oscar-worthy is the truthful eeriness at hand. The theme of death and children is easily noticeable in this year’s Live-Short nominations. What makes Na Wewe special is its ability to show a child that is the result of an evil environment. The film presents children gun in hand and an expression that would put fear even into an adult’s soul. They have completely lost their innocence, if it was ever there to begin with. From ages 16 to as young as 6 or 7, they are already in the army, ready to kill any person who steps out of hand.

Child Killer of the Hutu Army in Na Wewe.

It’s historical context is easily comparable to the acclaimed 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. Na Wewe almost could have been inserted into the film. Both films engross the audience to feel compassion for the horrible events that took place in 1990’s Africa. What Na We We does however, is attempt to provide a comic relief at the end to lighten the load of the the rest of the film. Rather the viewer found it to be cheesy or successful, it is undeniable that the director attempted to showcase that despite their rivalry, the Hutus and Tutsis had, after all, similar interests.

Through the tool of fear, compassion, and the will to want to help those in the film, Goldschmidt excellently portrays history through a short film, an insanely difficult task. Na We We is definitely a front runner for the Oscar win.

Posted in Independent Film | 5 Comments

Does McDonalds and Short Films Count for Dinner and a Movie?

I was pretty excited to go to the IFC Center, seeing as though I didn’t even know the center existed, plus I’ve been into independent films lately. I decided to bring my friend along, who happens to be obsessed with independent films. When I asked her if she’d liked to tag along, she jumped up and said yes as if I might change my mind. She was excited too, to say the least.

The center which I've passed NUMEROUS times without notice.

Before we headed to see the short films, we made a stop at Urban Outfitters, so my friend could return some things. I couldn’t help but to look around as well, seeing as though it is one of my favorite stores. I came across several books I feel I MUST have, including Fashion Box, which I am still considering buying right now.

Anyhow, we realized the time (4:00 and the movie started at 4:10), so we rushed over across the street to get the tickets. To our surprise, there were a lot of people standing outside and in line. We immediately thought “NO, IT’S SOLD OUT.” Luckily, our theory was wrong and we got in. However, we were on the second row of seats. Bummer.

Seeing as though both of our stomachs was growling through the entire screening, we decided to go across the street to McDonalds. Those fries have never tasted so good. I say that every time, by the way.Unfortunately, a guy sat next to us that smelled like death, so we bounced.

All in all, it was a fun experience. “Let’s do it again!” my friend said. I think we will.

Posted in Independent Film | 1 Comment

Television Has Finally Become Equipped to Our Attention Span With Web Series

As we continue to innovate and come up with more ways to improve our modern and technologically fast-paced society, a new sensation has been born: the web series.

Comprised of “TV shorts,” web series are usually no more than ten minutes in length each and are available online only. These web series aren’t just your casual Youtuber’s that decided to make series either. Major networks are providing web series, such as a personal favorite of mine, NBC’s The Office Webisodes.

Web series give major networks and independents alike the chance to put their name out there in a cool and modern way. However, can independents compete with major networks in this era of TV? Comparing two web series episodes, the first Company in the web series Suite 7, hosted by My Lifetime network, and Neighborhood #1 of the web series Oh, Inverted World, hosted by New York independent company MovieFilm Productions, it seems like a tough challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, Neighborhood #1 isn’t so bad. It seems to be the beginning of a zombie and monster web series. Of course, since it is an independent web series, the make-up was bad, really bad more specifically. The screenwriting was awkward at times and the actors were clearly novices. But it was something about the raw edge of the episode that captured me and made me want to finish the episode. The entire series is in black and white, which ads to the eeriness of the series. The music was extremely nice and appropriate (I am a huge movie soundtrack fanatic). Even the transition from scene to scene was well made. However, with so-so acting and not so good writing, the series fails to deliver. One student, Sabrina Khan, says, “I thought it was boring. It didn’t lure me in enough.”

Company has an upper hand from the start—it stars actress Shannon Doherty. On top of that, it is obviously much better made and the acting is almost cruelly better. Company takes place in a hotel room, when a manager brings a guest (Doherty) an extra pillow requested and becomes a listening ear to her relationship problems. Yes, it’s a little sappy. But the episode was so enticing it made me want to see more.

Shannon Doherty in Company

Overall, rather it be independents or major networks, web series are making a mark on the web. They are giving a chance for novices to make a name for themselves and for major networks to give their viewers something more. I’d say I’m all for quick TV. What can I say, I’m an American, and I’m just as impatient as the stereotype claims.

Posted in Independent Film | Tagged | 10 Comments