Atlanta Film Festival 2014 | Report #6

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A dark adaptation of a short story by Dostoyevsky and a documentary about the Carter Family bring my viewing at the 2014 film festival to a close. 

 

A dark adaptation of a short story by Dostoyevsky and a documentary about the Carter Family bring my viewing at the 2014 film festival to a close. Well, there’s also the awards to report, but first things first.

Richard Ayoade’s The Double, adapted from the Dostoyevsky story of the same name, stars Jesse Eisenberg as Simon James and James Simon. The first is a hardworking but timid clerk, the kind of person who gets no respect—in fact, people barely notice him, even his coworkers at the company where’s he’s been an employee for seven years. James Simon, on the other hand, is an arrogant bastard who takes credit who gets all the girls and immediately becomes the boss’ favorite, gradually taking over Simon’s life until even he is not sure that he really exists.

The Double is set in a steampunk world that’s both futuristic and Dickensian, and the visual elements (cinematography by Erik Wilson, production design by David Crank, art direction by Denis Schnegg) and music (Andrew Hewitt) are a lot of what makes the film work. Eisenberg is good in both roles (and he’s not usually one of my favorites), and there’s an amazing supporting cast including Wallace Shawn, Sally Hawkins, and Mia Wasikowska.

You can’t talk about American music and not mention the Carter Family, who have been a salient presence from their first recordings in the 1920s. Today, they remain part of our culture not only through the continuing popularity of their songs (“Keep on the Sunny Side,” “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Wildwood Flower,” and so many more) but also through the performances of their many descendants. Beth Harrington’s The Winding Stream is an efficient telling of their story, with well-chosen interviews and music selections, and shows a real respect for their personal values as well as their musicianship. My only criticism is Harrington’s inclusion of some animated sequences that look positively creepy, the only false note in an otherwise well put together film.

And here are the awards:

  • Pink Peach Feature Film Winner: Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo
  • Pink Peach Short Film Winner: GUM
  • Music Video Winner: Lesson #16 for Beastmaster V/Fun performed by Deathcrush
  • Documentary Feature Film Winner: Getting to the Nutcracker
  • Documentary Feature Special Jury Prize: WEB
  • Documentary Short Film Winner: Thomas Bennett
  • Narrative Feature Film Winner: I Believe in Unicorns
  • Narrative Short Film Winner: Mysterio
  • Animated Short Film Winner: Rabbit and Deer
  • Inaugural Filmmaker to Watch Award: Moon Molson, director of the short film The Bravest, The Boldest | Sarah Boslaugh

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