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  • Don’s Favorite Undistributed Films of 2013 | Part Three

    Best of 2013

    By | December 22, 2013

    It seems as though every year we have been presented with an increased quantity (and quality) of independent films. So many of these films end up having strong festival runs, then disappear into cinematic limbo; but as more boutique distributors pop up, more of these films are ending up getting some sort of a theatrical and/or VOD release. With this year coming to a close, I want to highlight some of the best films that I saw in 2013 that — to the best of my knowledge — have yet to announce a U.S. distribution deal. I say that, however, with total confidence that they will be distributed one way or another in the next 18 months.

    Rather than ranking these films, this is an alphabetical list that has been broken up into three posts: Part One, Part Two & Part Three.


    Pearblossom Hwy

    At this point, I think Ott is one the most fascinating young American filmmakers. He has a simple, yet unique approach to filmmaking that hinges heavily upon the tenants of neo-realism and non-fiction filmmaking. As I mentioned an the onset of this review, Pearblossom Hwy echoes many of the same sentiments as Littlerock, but that is not such a bad thing. Ott simplifies and streamlines what he did with Littlerock, creating a new film that is both more mature and meaningful. Ott is clearly still growing as a filmmaker, but I sense that he has truly hit his stride with Pearblossom Hwy. (Check out my full review of Pearblossum Hwy.)



    Co-directors Karl Jacob and T. Arthur Cottam approached this project with story points, then developed the characters and dialogue during a six month rehearsal process. The result is a foursome of fully realized characters whose actions are all backed up by motivations. That is not to say that the script is saturated with expository dialogue, because whenever characters are interrogated about their feelings or past, it is done so with the utmost level of naturalism. (Check out my full review of Pollywogs.)



    Pervertere delves into the dark and dirty recesses of relationships that cinema usually hesitates to touch. This incredibly sexy film plays with the sloppy and haphazard honesty of an early Jim Jarmusch film. The narrative jumps around with the loose logic of a surrealist fantasy, but the underlying purpose of the film provides us with three novel perspectives of one man’s sexual journey. This is an existential saga of a man who tries to uncover the meaning of life beneath the sheets of his sexual conquests. (Check out my full review of Prevertere.)


    The Retrieval

    As the one continuous character from beginning to end, writer-director Chris Eska’s The Retrieval serves as Will’s coming of age story. There is no denying that Will’s experiences during this journey will weigh on him greatly for the remainder of his life. Like the subject of a well-told proverb, Will is forced to learn about loyalty and trust while he navigates the dense moral grayness between society’s definitions of right and wrong. All the while, Will also explores the notion of family, contemplating whether blood is more important than someone who seems to really care about him. (Check out my interview with Chris Eska for The Retrieval.)


    Swim Little Fish Swim

    Equally influenced by New York independent filmmakers of the 1970s and French New Wave directors of the 1960s, Lola Bessis and Ruben Amar develop a unique cinematic language that is both gorgeously stylistic and intensely dramatic. Then, in a perfect mesh of sound and vision, Toys and Tiny Instruments provides a soundtrack that works perfectly for Leeward’s persona. (Check out my full review of Swim Little Fish Swim.)



    Test perfectly encapsulates the uniqueness of the mid-1980s, place and culture. From the production design to the soundtrack to the overall mood and tone, Johnson nails it. For some of us, the mid-1980s may not seem all that far away — that is until we see just how archaic the Sony Walkman and rotary telephones seem in comparison to modern technology. (Check out my full review of Test.)


    Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

    Within Vic + Flo…’s plot, Côté is takes a long look at two women and a man living in a wooden cottage with pale blue walls and roof covered with rust. It is important to imagine Bestiaire’s visual qualities in order to notice that Côté most likely has some kind of comparison between two films on his mind. Vic + Flo… seems to be a really peculiar, but brilliant sequel to Bestiaire. Last year we were watching animals in the zoo; this year, we glance at women in prison for a short while and then we follow one of them far into the woods. (Check out Anna Bielak’s full review of Vic + Flo Saw a Bear.)


    Video Diary of a Lost Girl

    While I love the visual aspects (and soundtrack!) of Denniberg’s film, it is the way that Video Diary of a Lost Girl deals with feminist issues that really stands out to me. This is an incredibly unique perspective on the horrors of the female menstrual cycle and gender dynamics. (Check out my full review of Video Diary of a Lost Girl.)


    Return to Part One / Return to Part Two

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