Tumbleweed film lineup brings best of international cinema

Still from Strange Beasts.

Still from “Strange Beasts.”

OROVILLE – This year’s Tumbleweed Film Festival is just around the corner, and the film lineup is complete and ready to wow.

The two-day event will feature an array of short films, with different lineups on both Friday evening at Vicki’s Backdoor Club and Saturday evening at Esther Bricques Winery. Between the two events, 24 films in all will be screened.

A driving vision of Tumbleweed through the years has been to bring the world of international cinema to a small-town festival, and the 8th annual film fest will be no exception. This year’s films have been chosen from nine different countries across four continents, representing broad swaths of the world’s finest filmmaking – from Russian thrillers to Dutch love stories.

Still from Bandito

Still from “Bandito.”

One of Friday’s featured films, “Bandito,” dives into a coming-of-age story through the lens of rural American crime. The film’s titular protagonist is a young boy who idolizes his older brother, yearning to be accepted as an equal amongst his brother and his brother’s friends. When the group plan the heist of their lives, our young hero comes face-to-face with morality – and mortality. The film, directed by Evan Ari Kelman, is both an engrossing character story as well as a taut thriller, ramping up towards a heart-pounding conclusion.

Still from "Mobile.

Still from “Mobile.

“Mobile” is one of the festival’s international selections, coming out of Germany. The animated film, directed by Verena Fels, takes place on a mobile, the sort of hanging toy that might sit over a child’s crib. In the film, the mobile is home to a menagerie of adorable animals, each with colorful character – from the beret-wearing Scottish puppy, to a snooty pair of pink sheep. Alone on one side of the mobile is the film’s hero, a bright flowery cow. All by her lonesome, she longs to connect with her friend, a little mouse across the mobile. In her quest to reach her friend, the cow creates flinging, swinging chaos on the mobile, and hilarious slapstick antics ensue. The film is free of dialogue, its emotions communicated entirely through expressive animation and a raucous soundtrack. The film feels reminiscent of Pixar’s short films, in its gorgeous animation, delightful emotional content, and wonderfully executed humor and heart.

Tumbleweed-11x17-poster---front-only-with-blank-backOne of the festival’s sci-fi selections is “Strange Beasts,” a film out of England by director Magali Barbe, which explores the possible future of augmented reality. The film, whose realism feels almost like a documentary at first, introduces the hottest new app, Strange Beasts. The program lets you create a customized fanciful pet – flying jellyfish, cuddly monsters, a soaring phoenix, or whatever else you’d like – and syncs with implanted “nano-retina technology” to project your digital pet right onto the world you see. Think Pokemon Go, but without a phone. The film gradually edges into the more unsettling aspects of such advanced technology. What does ‘real’ mean in a world infused with virtual reality? Will genuine human connections survive in an increasingly digital world? If you’ve ever enjoyed The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror – or Pokemon Go, for that matter – you’ll love “Strange Beasts.”

The Tumbleweed film lineup will take viewers on a journey around the globe through the wide world of cinema. Taken together, the selected short films have amassed hundreds and hundreds of awards, representing the very best of short films. Tickets to the festival are available at www.TumbleweedFilmFest.com – tickets are $10 for a single evening, or $18 for a two-day pass.

If you have an event or program that you’d like covered in this column, you can email Daniel at Daniel.Klayton@gmail.com.