Directed by Grace Harper and Kate Stonehill, The Family Statement is a 15 minute compilation of WhatsApp messages exchanged by the Sackler family during the time of their lawsuit. The Sackler family is particularly notorious for their company Purdue Pharma, which marketed and distributed OxyContin and is considered the root cause for the deadly opioid epidemic. Its alleged that the Sacklers filed for bankruptcy during the lawsuit as a means to shield themselves from financial loss.
The WhatsApp message, released in December 2020, are shown against images of your typical American suburban landscapes. The messages appear in small white text making it difficult for the viewer to read. This, and the fact that the messages aren’t that revelatory, strips the film of any real shock value. Throughout the film there are also snippets of pre-court interviews with the Sacklers. Will appeal to anyone interested in getting more insight into the opioid epidemic.
The Family Statement was part of the 2022 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival.
Since the Iran-Contra Affair, US presidents have taken a firm stance that the government does not negotiate with terrorists. This stance leaves the families of those kidnapped and held captive by terrorists in an impossible situation. Directed by Sofian Kahn, Sealed in Blood examines this issue through the lens of one story, that of the family of journalist Steven Sotloff, who in 2014 was kidnapped and killed by ISIS terrorists.
The documentary effectively evokes a sense of helplessness and brings back to light a dark time in recent history.
Sealed in Blood was part of the 2022 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival.
Directed by Meg Shutzer and Rachel Lauren Mueller, 8 Days at Ware is a sobering exposé of the inhumane treatment of minors at the Ware Youth Center in Louisiana. This 27 minute documentary tells the story of two troubled youths and the juvenile detention system that failed them. In one case, a 13 year old is put in isolation and commits suicide after just 8 days at the facility. Another case follows an investigation into officer abuse when a youth suffers a head injury after an altercation.
8 Days at Ware offers viewers insight into a damaged system that ultimately creates a vicious cycle of abuse for anyone who gets trapped in it.
8 Days atWare was part of the 2022 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival.
Directed by Gosha Shapiro (they/them), cosboi is a short film that follows the story of a genderqueen teen who goes on a journey of self-discovery through TikTok and anonymous Uber-type rides. Through the power of the For You Page on TikTok, the teen is inspired by advice and wisdom to venture out and practice new forms of themselves in conversation with rideshare drivers. This film beautifully demonstrates a pivotal time in a teen’s life when they are discovering who they are through self-reflection, media consumption, practice and rebellion.
cosboi premiered at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.
A middle-aged man (Dennis Levant) sees workers line up for a day job. Not knowing what the job is but eager for some paying work, he lines up with them. He signs in and is asked to remove all of his clothes and dress up in an old military uniform. A make-up artist puts a fake scar filled with blood on his forehead. A prop guy gives him a holster and rifle. The group of men head out into a field. The man’s scar begins to bleed and the shots begin to fire. What exactly did he get himself into?
“Short film is a full-fledged format that can capture and point out something that would not work on a feature scale.”
Directed by Jan Vejnar, Figurant is a short drama from Czechia about curiosity, expectation and disappointment. It’s 13 minutes and 45 seconds long and holds its mystery long enough to engage the audience even though we figure out pretty quickly what’s going on. It’s expertly choreographed, especially the battle scene where we witness a POV shot that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before in a film.
Figurant was set to have its US premiere at the SXSW film festival. You can get updates on the film over on the official Instagram page.