NoBudge has partnered with Indiewire, the premiere site for indie film news & coverage, to present a monthly selection of our films. Check out this month's pick, Helberger in Paradise from the collection of films, Intimate Semaphores, embedded below, and stay in touch with Indiewire for daily indie film coverage...
With the short film collection, Intimate Semaphores, director T.J. Misny presents a darkly comedic anthology of three stories unrelated in narrative, sharing no overlapping characters, but each a singular portrait of women on the edge — dealing with old promises, deteriorating vision, and conflicting ambitions.
Helberger in Paradise might be my favorite of the group, owing to a wonderfully shifty performance by one of indie film’s best actresses, Kate Lyn Sheil. Here she plays a drifter named Nora who becomes involved with a cab driver while heading to the funeral of an old friend. At first, the skittish Nora battles with the cabbie because she’s late and he refuses to drive any faster. But as they progress, deeper issues begin to surface.
Nora arrives at the church mid-service with no intentions of sitting through the funeral. Instead, she has planned an elaborate stunt to blast Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise from an old tape player in the rear of the sanctuary. In an ambitious set piece captured beautifully, the stunt unravels in hilarious fashion, sending Nora stumbling away before she gets recognized.
Returning to the same cab to escape for the airport, the film contracts into a talky character study between Nora and Rally, the straightforward cab driver, who emerges as a figure of ethics to play against the anarchist Nora. The result is oddly satisfying, a smartly drawn portrait of two characters at completely different stages of life. Misny explores from a literary framework and succeeds with a sharply written tale of rebellion and living with your past.
In High and Dry, Ariane Labed stars as Laurel, a soul-searching photographer mysteriously losing her vision. She embarks on a series of tests that keep coming back normal while her photographs keep coming back soft in focus. Her musician boyfriend, Clark, has just been suddenly dropped from his label and he’s devastated, but Laurel doesn’t have much sympathy — in the grand scale of human suffering, this doesn’t really register, she accuses.
The lead performances are excellent, Labed as a hardened skeptic, Keith Poulson as an emotional boyfriend who isn’t getting what he needs. They form a completely believable New York artist relationship, more founded on artistic admiration than emotional compatibility. The film is a tightly constructed drama with vivid attention to detail and imaginative visual flourishes.
Watch High and Dry below...
The final short, The Crumb of It, is another incisive glimpse into selfishness. Jocelin Donahue plays a struggling stand-up comedian dealing with her partner’s rising career as a pastry chef. Not quite supportive, she appears intent on drawing the attention back to herself as much as possible, but not quite for the reason she lets on. (15 minutes)
T.J. Misny is a young filmmaker in impressive command of structure and psychological insight. These nuanced portrayals of complicated people are marked by smart shifts in character. He gets sharp performances from some of the best young actresses working today in indie film, and working with cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra, each is visually dynamic, filled with vibrant & ambitious images.