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The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival 2016 Report

May 17, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival 2016 Report

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The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival is a film festival that has been in operation, in one form or another, for the last four years. The 2016 edition of BDFFF screened over 100 movies over ten full days, with the first seven days playing at the Dipson Theaters Eastern Hills Cinema at the Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville, New York, and the last three days at the Screening Room Cinema Café in Amherst, New York. I was able to attend the first two days of the festival and managed to see almost everything screened (out of nine programming “blocks” I saw seven of them). The films I managed to see included short films, feature length films, and documentaries.

Day 1

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Finish Line: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting: Directed by Joseph Fusco, this is a fascinating documentary about the creation, rise, and ultimate destruction of Off-Track Betting. It’s also an indictment of the New York state political structure, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and then State Senate speaker Dean Skelos, among others, and it shows what happens when the government is hostile to unions. It’s a heartbreaking story as tons of people lost their jobs, benefits, and retirement as a result of the end of OTB, and some of the personal stories on display will leave you with a lump in your throat. The doc is tightly paced (it runs about an hour) and is chock full of great “talking head” interviews, including several moments with the now late but always great Jimmy Breslin. Nostalgia fans will also get a kick out of several OTB TV commercial segments and still photos of New York City “back in the day.” Great, sobering stuff.

TwoForOne

Two For One: Directed by and starring Jon Abrahams, when I first read about this drama I thought it was going to be like a better made Lifetime movie. I had no idea that it was, for the lack of a better word, an “indie” drama. But then multiple F words were uttered and, yeah, I realized that Two For One was not a “Lifetime” movie. Basically, it’s a movie about a hip and edgy New York artist named James who ends up having to be the legal guardian of his best friend’s children (the best friend, played by Scott Caan, and his wife die in the 9/11 attacks). James is perpetually overwhelmed by the situation, losing girlfriends and art opportunities because of his parental responsibilities, but he somehow manages to make a life for himself and his kids. He manages to get a job as a public school art teacher, but James ends up losing that job due to budget cuts and ends up having to move to Buffalo.

Now, James’s kids aren’t too keen on moving to Buffalo, especially the older girl Alexis (Sasha Frolova) who just despise the idea of moving out of the big city and to the suburbs. This hate leads to multiple discipline problems. As for the younger kid, Grace (Nicole Elizabeth Berger), she’s a piano prodigy of sorts who has issues making friends and adapting to her musical tutor (Grace is proficient in classical music but doesn’t really understand the blues). It doesn’t really matter, though, what their issues are because James can’t afford to live anywhere else. He also has a job in Buffalo, something he doesn’t have anywhere else.

James eventually develops feelings for a new teacher at his school, a British woman named Bridget (Mickey Sumner), and they have a nice arc (they also have real chemistry). Erika Christensen and Christian George are in the movie as Tiffany and Lou Fontinella, who are, I believe, relatives of some sort to either James or the girls (George is Uncle Lou, although I can’t remember how he’s related to anyone. Uncle Lou could be what they just call him). They run a beauty shop and a pizza parlor and, to a certain extent, provide the movie’s comic relief as they’re both hilarious. Lou’s Sylvester Stallone fandom is a hoot and a half (how many indie movies reference Cobra?) The great Annie Potts also appears as James’s mother Ginny and shows why she’s a great actress.

Two For One is a sweet movie. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it will make you smile. I mean, if, for some reason the story doesn’t make you smile, the badass version of “The Saints Go Marching In” that plays at the end will.

I believe this movie is still making the festival rounds, but, really, I have no idea. If it does show up at some festival or whatnot around you, it’s worth checking out. Good movie.

Little Dougie: Written and directed by Steven Cerritos, this is one messed up horror comedy short. It’s about a guy with a small penis who wants to be in porno movies. After being humiliated at a porno audition (one of the producers measures his wang and it doesn’t, well, measure up), the guy makes a deal with the Devil and becomes the owner of one of the biggest penises in the history of time. This short is hilarious and will make you laugh mega hard. And with the way it works out, man, it will make you think twice about asking the Devil for a bigger dick. It just won’t work out the way you want it to. It won’t. It really won’t. Ha.

TonightSheComes

Tonight She Comes: Written, directed, and edited by Matt Stuertz, Tonight She Comes is a massively messed up horror flick about people trapped deep in the woods and being pursued by a demonic young woman who just so happens to be completely naked. The run up to the main plot of the movie is a bit convoluted and confusing, but once it gets dark the blood starts flowing and people start dying you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.

Now, do I completely understand Tonight She Comes? No. Tonight She Comes is one of those horror flicks that just begs to be seen multiple times because you’re sure you missed something the last time you watched it. And that’s what happened to me when the end credits were over and the house lights came on. I wanted to watch it again.

Dal Nicol gives the standout performance of the movie, as she has to perform some wacked out stuff while covered in blood. If and when this movie gets a wider release Nicol will, no doubt, get all sorts of notice for what she does as “Kristy.” If she doesn’t, well, there’s something wrong with the horror movie nerd world.

Tonight She Comes also features top notch cinematography, sound design, and a music score for the ages. Some of the sounds and music bits will freak you out, but then that’s what they’re supposed to do.

Now, I will say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with as many wrist cutting scenes as Tonight She Comes. These aren’t “suicide” scenes, mind you, but scenes of people cutting their wrists to draw blood. I’m amazed that, in the story, no one accidentally cuts off their own hand. It’s insane.

Definitely a must see for horror movie nerds. Just be aware that it’s weird.

Day 2

Holiday of Holidays: This is a short documentary about a school near Jerusalem where Arab, Jewish, and Christian children are taught to celebrate all holidays. It’s sweet and uplifting and shows that, with the right kind of spirit and teaching, the peoples of the world don’t have to hate one another. That’s what I got out of it, anyway. You won’t hate life as much after watching it. It’s what happened to me. There might be hope.

Choices Determine Your Life/Sleepover: These two short films were made by adolescent student filmmakers from a local film program that I can’t remember the name of. Both movies are basically about what happens people abuse alcohol or, really, anything. In short, it doesn’t end well for anyone. The acting is a little rough but, then, the movies are populated by non-professional kids. They’re well made, though, and look good and sound good. I liked both of these movies and enjoyed how they incorporated a message. As far as I’m concerned you don’t see enough of that kind of thing.

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Six Guys, 6000 Miles: This is a road trip documentary featuring four members of People Inc.’s Guys Group, a social program for young men with developmental disabilities. With the help of two mentors/facilitators, the four young men travelled in an RV from Buffalo to California and then back to Buffalo. The young men make several stops along the way to see the sites and visit with similar programs. We hear the young men’s stories, current life situations, and all about their goals and what they hope to achieve in the future. We also see what it’s like for six people living in an RV for several weeks. In short, stuff happens in there.

This is a sweet documentary that is uplifting to the max. It could probably use some tightening here and there as it does play a little too long, but the movie is watchable as hell. There are times where some of the “on the road/other programs” segments play as advertisements for those programs, but they’re never annoying or cloying. You will love the scenes in Vegas and the whole “geocaching” thing that goes on.

A word of warning about the movie, though. When it’s over, you will not be able to stop saying “Buddaaaaaahhhh… butts.” You really won’t.

Mind Flip: Two episodes of this web series played and, apparently, all five episodes are available on Vimeo (well, they were available on Vimeo. I’m not sure if they still are). Anyway, these two shorts were funny and inventive and dealt with a mad scientist and his weird as hell work at a biotech animal lab. Both episodes are funny, especially as you spot all of the references to The 3 Stooges. The mastermind of these episodes, Ken Rowe, is attempting to make a full length movie featuring the characters and situations seen in the webisodes. If it happens, it will no doubt be a blast. Track these shorts down and check them out. They’re worth it.

LetHerOut

Let Her Out: This was the first of a Black Fawn Films double feature on day 2. Let Her Out is a stylish horror thriller that will slowly freak you out. Basically, it’s a movie about a young woman who, after suffering injuries in a bike accident, ends up experiencing weird blackouts. I don’t want to give away the twist of the story because, while it isn’t wholly original, it still packs a punch when you find out what’s really going on.

The movie isn’t all that gory at first, but the blood picks up quite a bit as it goes on and you will cringe at all of the throat slitting going on. And the performances are all top notch, especially star Alanna LeVierge. When this movie gets an official release of some sort, be sure to track it down and check it out. You should actually do that for all Black Fawn Films, actually.

BedOfTheDead

Bed of the Dead: Based on the plot description for this horror movie, I thought it was going to be ridiculous. Not in a bad way, but, come on, the movie is about a bed that’s possessed. How is that not going to be ridiculous? Well, Bed of the Dead is not ridiculous. At all. In fact, it’s kind of genius.

Much like Let Her Out, the movie has plenty of weird twists and turns and isn’t what you expect it to be. I didn’t see how all of the story threads connected ahead of time, and when the movie was over I couldn’t believe that the idea worked at all.

Man, it’s difficult talking about this movie without spoiling the whole thing. When it gets released, just like Let Her Out, see it. It’s worth it big time.

Check out the Black Fawn Films website for more information about everything Black Fawn Films.

O Christmas Tree: Yet another messed up short horror flick, this one written and directed by Greg Kovacs. Basically, it’s about a sweet old woman who isn’t what she appears to be. It will make you think twice not only about going around singing Christmas carols, but also accepting anything from a sweet old woman.

Goddamit, man, this short freaked me out and made me laugh. It’s sick. It’s sick.

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Massacre on Aisle 12: I wrote a full review of this tremendous horror comedy movie, the best movie I saw in 2016. Check out the full review here and then head over to Amazon where you can buy or rent it or you can go check it out on YouTube. The movie is well worth either. You won’t regret it.

Out of the Box: This horror short is all about two people trapped in a room with a strange box. There’s an experiment of sorts afoot, as the two trapped people have to see how long they can each stay in the room without opening the box. There’s a cool sort of twist at the end, although, to a certain extent, I don’t think anyone is going to be that surprised by what’s actually in the box. Cool stuff.

StreetTrash

Street Trash: This was a 30th anniversary screening of the 1980’s splatter classic directed by Jim Muro and written by Roy Frumkes, who was in attendance for a Q & A after the screening. I hadn’t seen Street Trash in twenty years or so before this screening, so it was cool to see the movie again, and it was damn cool to see it projected on a big screen. I will say, though, that it was kind of surreal to watch Street Trash with Frumkes sitting a few rows down from me. I don’t really know why but it was. Anyway, the movie is a must see for horror nerds of all generations, as it’s still one messed up movie. Offensive, gory, and thoroughly disgusting, it will make the gorehound in you smile wide as various characters melt and explode in gooey glory. If and when you get the chance to see this on a big screen, do it. It’s an experience for the ages.

Other Movies That Screened

Dead Bullet

Dances With Werewolves

Midnight Delight

They Want Dick Dickster

The Dark Tapes

#Screamers

Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time

Conclusion

I had a great time at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival. I saw a wide variety of movies, some of them truly great, and hope that more people get to see them as they move around the country (and world) playing at other festivals or on home video or TV or whatever. It would have been awesome to attend more than two days, but it just wasn’t in the cards (probably need to win the lottery to make that happen. Ha). I’m sure the people that were able to attend the entire or other parts of the festival had a great time, too. Festival directors Gregory Lamberson and Chris Scioli did a fine job putting the show together, and they are no doubt hard at work putting the 2017 edition of the show together.

If you’re in the Buffalo area in early November of 2017 and you’re in the mood to check out some cool movies, or if you’re looking for a place to go to go do something, be sure to hit Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville, New York and or the Screening Room Cinema Cafe in Amherst, New York.

The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival 2017 will run from Friday, November 3rd to Sunday November 12th. Check out http://www.buffalodreamsfantasticfilmfestival.com/ for details.