A close tie would exist for second between Kid-Thing and Sun Don't Shine. Both quietly destructive movies, I found Kate Lyn Sheil, who also appeared in The Comedy, brought a layered, incredible performance to the broken Crystal, beached on the decaying shores of a faded Florida in Sun Don't Shine. Equally, the sorrowful whimsy of Kid-Thing continues to echo down my soul much like the walkie-talkie crackle sinking into the dark hole in the woods.
Watching Seluah make Tod Browning's The Unknown even more unnerving and creepy was also a real highlight of the festival. The same goes for those inspiring high school filmmakers, Matthew Riviera and Evan Sennett who shot and screened their Buster Keaton homage, The Executive. And, I have to say once again, how I wish I could watch that purely delightful short, Into the Middle of Nowhere, everyday. I cannot quit saying "Smoke Bloke Island" in a bad Scottish accent.
The festival also contained interesting variations on the same intent. The most notable one came between Detropia and Tchoupitoulas. Though they had different messages, they both generally wanted to present specific cities. I did not enjoy Detropia, and have grown even more critical of it as the days pass. It tried to tell a big, overarching story without giving information, and felt overly manipulative in its reliance on unsourced facts and the commentary of everyday people. Whereas Tchoupitoulas let a small story mostly tell itself, simply following three boys through the night and trying to see the city through their perspective. In this way, we were able to fit the pieces together and understand the lovely city as an audience. The filmmakers of Detropia tried to appear uninvolved, but the charged scenes that they edited together stirred your emotions without telling you the why. I asked the Ross Brothers, after their screening of Tchoupitoulas, about their lack of anything having to deal with Hurricane Katrina. They quickly said they had no desire to tell a story using that, as it was a one-dimensional way to approach the city. I feel that Detropia used this one-dimensional method, showcasing the destruction and turmoil without ever honestly getting close to the story or the city as a whole.
Fortunately, negative reactions like Detropia were rare through the festival. As much as I tried, I could not find the reason to make the My Morning Jacket short One Big Holiday. It was a lovely postcard of Louisville, but I failed to find it anything more than self-congratulatory and couldn't see any other city showing it.
I suppose my biggest disappointment landed in Pilgrim Song. I did not necessarily dislike it, I merely had high expectations from the wide buzz circulating it; I don't have any numbers, but I believe it brought the Festival's biggest attendance. It saddened me to be unable to really click with the sprawling, clumsy portrayal of an unlikeable protagonist as he happened through the hapless residents of rural Kentucky. At least the music, the scenery, and Timothy Morton's performance kept it somewhat afloat.