Snow Leopard International Film Festival
“Making friends as the World Ends” by Jonathan Pegg is an interesting approach of a story that presented within a single location. Although it may be low budget, it brings emotion and conflicts of people’s personalities, which is way more important.

Just like «12 Angry Men», the story revolves around different people at one table to make a decision nobody wants to make. Since all the characters would never interact with each other outside of the situation that are in, here comes the most important conflict with humanity: to accept, to listen and to respect each other without any judgment.
Fascinating thing to note that every character brings both positive and negative emotions, and it is almost impossible to pick a favorite nor sympathize anyone. Just like in life, each character of the film is made of good and bad, fun and sad, angry and love.

There is not much to say about the set or camera approach since audience would focus only on acting. I believe it is the crucial idea of such film: to capture a performance that revolves around a very specific story. Actors do a pretty good job of portraying each character. There is a plethora of emotions each actor brings and creates an ensemble.

In my opinion, Jonathan Pegg is on a right way to creative success by creating art within boundaries that might happen naturally or not. As a true artist, his desire to create a story is bigger than budget, timing and other problems many artists deal with every day.

"Making friends as the World ends" by Jonathan Pegg
“Skinnex” by Sebastian Gross is a drug-related short film that has a pretty unique twist in it. Within 9 minutes, Sebastian creates a very original imagery that combines drugs and vampire/epidemic horror film. Which makes a lot of sense.

The entire film feels dirty, as it should be. There nothing glamorous regarding drug-infused society, and the director executed it perfectly. There is something catchy yet nostalgic having the most cathartic scene in the subway’s bathroom. Also, the coloring adds another layer of grime to the film too: colors are dark yet juicy, it creates very toxic and unhealthy atmosphere, which works perfectly with the theme of “Skinnex”.

There is a lot of music in the film. To my personal taste, it is too much. Sometimes it feels like the director is trying to fit a certain kind of soundtrack in every pause possible. Which can be delusional to the audience; not every pause or quiet moment should be filled with music.

I have a feeling that Sebastian has not told the entire story yet, and there is more to explore in it. If that assumption is correct, a full feature film can be a major hit that can attract audiences around the globe. Film revolving around such topics, especially combined, can create a major hit film, if it will be executed well.

"SKINEX" by Sebastian Groß
“Lajjawati: A Love Story from India” by Sumathy Ram and Charles Leopardo is an exquisite script that is full of depth in terms of a story and cultural environment where the story os plotted.

The beauty of Lajjawati comes from layers the script has: it has historical and cultural aspect that shows immense heritage country of India has. Besides that, the story deals with love and passion, dignity and truth – all these layers are crucial for such big project as Lajjawati.

Also, the story feels timeless to me. It feels like parable: it could be told in any time, there are no boundaries, despite the involvement of historical events. I believe this story is about about people in certain circumstances, but about humanity and rich culture humanity brings into this world.

However, it does need some editing in favor of not losing the tempo of a plot. Since it is set in past era, it is crucial to lose certain scenes in order for the story to flow effortlessly. I am sure a mature director will acknowledge it.

Overall, this is a very promising project with a lot of potential. I am absolutely sure it can become a hit since there is so much depth in every word of the script. I am exciting to see Lajjawati in near future.

"LAJJAWATI: A LOVE STORY FROM INDIA" by Sumathy Ram & Charles Leopardo
"Best Television Script" October - November 2022 Program

Forest Island by Ryosuke Handa is a full of incredible images film where the story builds up by nature and simple human’s movements. Full of vivid shots to create depth and ambiguity, it tells a simple yet powerful story.

Although the plot is not linear comparing to traditional approach of film storytelling, Forest Island is not exactly about the story. The film captures a plethora of emotions, feelings and meanings behind nature and human interaction within natural environment. Nature becomes a character of the film, having its own story and characteristics. Such approach is not presented too often these days, and it makes the story to become timeless.

The director of photography did an amazing job by capturing nature in order to create such atmosphere. A lot of shots have a classical film approach to it, without unnessecary movements of a camera. Shots are steady, full of slow motion, mature and unique. It is indeed art of capturing the right thing, and it was executed perfectly.

I am pretty sure if Ryosuke Handa will continue to work with such approach, it would bring him to incredible results. I am excited to see his next film, and I am curious what stories he would be able to tell without having long dialogs or character-focused storytelling.

"FOREST ISLAND" by Ryosuke Handa

“Kitchen Spaces” by Patrick Bambert is a classic American satire revolving around Thanksgiving and confrontations family member have at such gatherings. Being produced as a cooking show parody, “Kitchen Spaces” touches plethora of touchy subjects and create uncomfortable yet hilarious situations.

In terms of humor, timing is crucial. Jokes need to be executed at the right time and to have a proper response. “Kitchen Spaces” does it well: 9 minute short film flows perfectly. Each topic has certain timing so the audience would not get bored or overflown. Impressive.

In terms of production, there is not much to say. Parody of a cooking show is done well, and there is not much to add to it. There are none memorable angles or camera ideas, and they are not necessary. The focus on the matter and dialogs here, and it is done perfectly.

It also remarkable how uncomfortable certain dialogs feel, there is definitely room for awkwardness in humor. Similar to Eric Andre, it pushes boundaries of what humor and jokes are becoming today, and it is exciting.

Overall, this is a great job on terms of the genre. Well executed, witted, awkward and humorous, “Kitchen Spaces” is definitely something worth watching, discussing and analyzing. I wonder if Patrick Bambert would continue with such approach.

"Kitchen Spaces" by Patrick Brambert

“Rooftop” by Nevena Nikolova and Petar Gerzilov is an outstanding short film that explores the nature of committing suicide. It is a perfect example of how aspiring filmmakers create something hilarious and emotional, yet easy to execute. I believe it worked because filmmakers wrote a great short story, that can be easily told, and wrote it with compassion and humor.

I honestly believe it all what it takes: if there is a great story, it can always be told through film. Hence, Rooftop is outstanding: it is just two actors, a single location, but amount of emotions and feelings audience can receive is outstanding. Characters are great and fully developed, from their clothes to their movements and words they are saying. The location is spot on, and it also gives the idea of how universal this story can be. That’s great imagery.

It is important to point out dialogs. They are easy to comprehend, full of subtle humor and progressive. These are not just dialogs; this is a progressive story that is told through words characters are saying. They do not feel dramatic or out of touch, which is crucial, in my opinion.

Another fascinating thing about “Rooftop” is the ending. It is an open one, and there is a switch in it, which was not expected at all. It adds another level of depth to the narrative, and it create an idea of how precious previous scene was. It feels like filmmakers wanted audience to feel a certain way towards the end, and they achieved it.

Overall, “Rooftop” is full of life, charisma, and humor. Something that can be relatable, but not cheesy or overdramatic. This is an exciting film, and I believe Nevena and Petar deserve to create more stories and develop a full feature film. Obviously, these filmmakers have something to say in their own way.

"ROOFTOP" by Nevena Nikolova, Petar Gerzilov
"Best Student Film", "Best Dark Comedy"  October - November program.

The Kennedy family will forever remain in the history of the United States, like a lucky lottery ticket that could “get rich” America, but was lost ...

John Kennedy was an open personality, and therefore there are many stories and facts about him that are available on various resources, including in the language of cinema. A huge number of films are devoted to the history of the youngest president in the history of the United States, who left us as early as he ascended to his post.

Roger Paradiso's great courage lies in the fact that he undertakes to tell and find new details in a story that only a lazy person has not dealt with. However, as 90 minutes of running time showed, there was still more to tell, and Roger Paradiso definitely found the right approach to the chosen topic. A move away from John's murder, from his political troubles and squabbles to more down-to-earth stories of people whose lives have changed with his arrival and after his death.

“Searching for Camelot” is a classic documentary with elements of interviews and historical pieces that reinforce people's stories with specific video material. A bonus to all this is the reflections of the author, who also witnessed the revolutionary period in the United States. However, the technical elements of this work are hardly the most important aspect because they are executed with dignity, and it is not worth dwelling on them once again.

Of course, I would consider the approach to the historical part of the film to be the main advantage of the work of Roger Paradiso. To find the right people and work with data. “Searching for Camelot” is really capable of telling a lot of new information in a story that is over 50 years old.

Fans of historical cinema and those who know that every story will always have new facts, probably “Searching for Camelot” will seem like a relevant work, but it is worth remembering that this is a mundane and measured project, without an emphasis on political showdowns, the search for murderers, conspirators, and so on. Further. This work is about people, the simplest ones, whose lives are also changing after such large-scale events.

"Searching for Camelot" by Roger Paradiso
"Best Historical Film" August - September program.

The work of T.J. Morehouse - "New Madrid" is a script with a simple structure that hardly stands out for its non-standard plot but would definitely be very effective for a film or serial adaptation. The story of the "ghost town" is not new, but it always makes sense to be interpreted, and with a responsible approach to film adaptation, it will definitely gather fans of the genre at the screens.

“New Madrid” is a well-written script that focuses on one main character, without getting into the jungle of her personal history, fixing the character “here and now”. A mystical project that will be very convenient for film adaptation due to its accessibility and ease of understanding. T.J. provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the original story, in an already well-known setting, such a movie has a backlog for a good box office, or for a large number of views on streaming sites.

The script available to us seemed to me light and dynamic. The plot develops quickly but manages to slightly reveal the main character and show us a large number of second-rate, mysterious characters.

Can we say that this screenplay lacks something? Depths of characters and story, but only if we are talking about a full meter with a claim to something “new”. If the project is perceived as the foundation for a short film or series, then this script is close to ideal. If we take the concept of the read as the basis of one series of a multi-part project, then this is really a very interesting work.

"New Madrid" by T.J. Morehouse
"Best Television Script" August - September program.
War changes people and generally leads everything into a psychological jungle, from which it is very difficult to find a way back. The horror of war has always been and will destroy the lives of all people who take part in senseless bloodshed. Zahir Rashed knows firsthand what war is and how destructive it can be. The Afghan-born director certainly put his personal feelings and emotions into his debut short film “In Peace”.

How good is the directorial debut of a man whose story is riddled with the aftermath of the war? First of all, "In Peace" is a distinctive and low-budget film that emphasizes a solid script and confident acting. It is in these two aspects that the picture looks convincing and attractive. The protagonist, played by Max Carpenter, is a young war veteran who has completely lost the threads of life, got hooked on drugs and went with the flow of life. What should be the character with such a story? Probably ambiguous. Max Carpenter perfectly conveyed the two-sided state of his hero, which is difficult to sympathize with, but he does not cause negativity either, because his life has been very battered ...

An emotionally complex character - perfectly embodied by the actor, and the psychological portrait is well spelled out by the director, what is this if not excellent teamwork? You can also note the actors playing supporting roles, because their game does not lag behind at all - perfectly complementing the picture.

Technically and visually “In Peace” is also a solid project. The camera work, the "military" color palette, the sound and the simple yet necessary props all play their part and make it very convincing.

Of course, the picture also has weak points, in my humble opinion, this is not a very well-staged action scene, as well as the lack of dynamics in the plot, which in some places suggests itself very much.

It is worth remembering that we were lucky to see the debut of Zahir Rashed, which means that this is only the first project in which the director of Afghan blood managed to try himself. The first work is rarely perfect, and often even weak, but "In Peace" definitely belongs to the category of successful undertakings. With a small budget, the true talent of the director and actors is revealed, who demonstrate their creative skills, bypassing the issue of investment.

"In Peace" surprises with creative direction and potential, as well as excellent acting. This movie is a pleasure to watch!

"In Peace" by Zahir Rashed
Official Selection August - September program.
“A metaphorical story of life and labor, the meaning and the folly of all”- that is how Kim Saarinen and P.J. Piippo describe there work “The Ditch”. How good is this metaphorical story? Let’s figure it out.

First of all, “The Ditch”- is a well done job from a technical point of view. From the first frame, a harmonious and very natural color correction is striking. This gives the picture catchiness and instantly attracts the attention of the viewer. Further, the authors surprise us with a very high level of cinematography, which allows you to feel like a part of the story and be close to the lonely main character. Every frame looks technically flawless.

The technical side is a big plus for “The Ditch”, but we also have to notice the silent but flawless acting of Nuutti Nikula, Jussi Otra-Aho and Janne Vitikkala. All three embody the image of the same character at different stages of his life, and they all did it perfectly, conveying every emotion.

The metaphorical part of the film looks not only interesting, but also makes you want to reconsider what you saw in order to fully understand the intention of the authors or dig up a new truth. Yes, in the end it’s hard to fully understand and realize what you see, but this work makes your brain work, think and follow the routine actions of the protagonist in order to find a hidden intention in them. The key, stone, lock and door, all these are particles of one metaphor, now you have to connect them together.

In summary, “The Ditch” is a beautiful project, created by people with a deep vision of the world, which is technically flawless and script-fully mature enough to be considered as a big film and claim the most serious awards.

"The Ditch" by Kim Saarinen and P.J. Piippo.
ANNUAL EVENT participant.
First of all, “In Spain” is a truly experimental story. Walking the streets of Spain has never been so cinematic. Ahn Sangwook gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the reflection of a mysterious girl who’s past and future will always be a mystery to the viewer, and the present is just her wanderings through the streets of Spain, in which she is lost in her thoughts, emotions and dreams.

Each of us sometimes needs solitude, just to walk down the street, think about the past, dream about the future, and analyze the present. Each of us sometimes needs to surrender to our step, to go without a goal, just enjoying the moment. It's hard to call Ahn's work anything out of the ordinary, something that makes you shudder.

However, we can say that “In Spain” is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in your own thoughts and emotions with a stranger. The opportunity to feel on the streets of Spain and feel the moment in which the main character found herself. Without any script, dialogues and other nuances inherent in the classic film.

We would like to note the excellent color correction and decent camera work, which make a walk-through Spain so cinematic. An enjoyable experimental work.

"In Spain" by Ahn Sangwook.
Official Selection December - February program.
In this 7-minute-long film the director Shaun T Pulsifer took a chance to tell the story about election in Canada. I would call it more of a teaser than a full documentary as it is way too short to depict the whole process election. On the other hand, this piece of work includes mostly Shaun’s experience in election. There are just 36 days after prime minister of Canada calls the election and candidates must show their best and fin the supporters.

This documentary is valuable for showing and leaving on tape the moment of unique election, happening in pandemic. Most of time director shows his fellow-candidates, tells the story of their experiences, of how they decided to become candidates. This documentary also can be a great promotion for the party as it briefly describes values of particular political party.

Technical methods of commercials also are used in this documentary. Strong and independent people are shown debating on socially acute topics, they declare their opinions, ready to lead people from different social classes to the best future. Also, this documentary can be used in educational purpose for younger generations to educate them on whole process of election. It can be used for foreigners to teach them about Canadian political system in addition.

There were minor issues with editing, when shots were abruptly cut without any smooth transition, it is not a feature film, but the quality of transitions is not excellent, although it can be quickly fixed.

"36 Days" by Shaun T Pulsifer
Official Selection March - April 2022 program.
Shadow of apocalypse. This is the right naming for the movie. It is a black and white piece of work telling a story about scientists who developed some deadly weapon. As it usually happens the scientists were working for a good purpose; they were trying to study aggression and the reasons it can be caused. They were successful but what happens after that is a big mystery and something the viewer will have to guess and try to find out by themselves throughout the whole movie.

This is thriller shot in black and white style which gives it more suspense and mystery. The director uses different techniques of this genre to create the fitting atmosphere: there are some shots with splashing blood, there is a main thing in the genre of horror movie – disturb and paranoia when characters are following someone or trying to find escape. Darkness enveloping the characters, long passages through deserted hallways, carefully combined noises in the soundtrack become the main techniques of fear technology. The sound effects should be discussed too. The moviemakers paid a lot of attention to sounds in this movie and it is also one of most essential parts of horror movie, when the anxious music immerses you in the state of fear and anxiety alongside the character.

Speaking of technical parts of shooting I can point out that the director has his own unique style. This is not plotless horror, this is story with elements of horror movie, there are also a detective and dramatic part in this movie. To understand the whole idea the viewer will have to follow main characters through the labyrinth of different information their consciousness is putting them through.

I liked the depth of the idea in the movie, I think it was inspired by rioting, where ordinary people take an action against government and its’ ideas. It is not something common for horrors and suspense movies.

"Max : Shadow of apocalypse" by Mr. Bouhaik
"Best Thriller" March - April 2022 program.
The movie touches upon several important eternal human problems - religion, rejection of those who are not like everyone else and different, and worst of it all, rejection by a person of himself in the context of the society in which he lives and from which he differs. What could be worse than not accepting yourself the way that you are?

What does a guy who comes out as gay fell? Fear. It is fear first and foremost. Because in our society when we are moving towards tolerance and being open minded there are still place for hatred and contempt. A simple human desire to love and be loved, a simple human need for warmth and tenderness stumble upon a blank wall of misunderstanding, alienation, condemnation, callousness, and indifference.

The movie is based on a monologue of a young man who is religious. He talks to himself while also asking God and trying to find answers to existential questions.

Growing up in that kind of a society main character grows to struggle to except himself to the point where he tries to take his life. The God’s answer helps him to start cherishing himself. He finally understands that people are born the way they are, we do not choose whom to love, we do not choose whom we get to be. That means that our lives are equally valuable, our experiences are priceless.

The short movie touches a topic of religious intolerance that we seem to conquer every day little by little. It can be shown in different churches and a few other organizations with strange ideas about human beings who might learn something. The film is a good one as it especially comes to grips with the church's condemnation of the gay lifestyle and the use of the bible to distort this way of living.

"The Nobody Prayer" by Shaun T. Pulsifer
"Best No-Dialogue Film", "Best Original Score" March - April 2022 program.
This short piece of work is about spirituality and energies. In the reviving era of believing in karma, energies, and manifestation this video can be consumed by a verity of social groups such as astrologists, numerologists and tarot readers.

The whole work depicts a woman doing some sort of a ritual while telling 42 ideal of Maat – Egyptian Goddess. These morals that are being preached can be also seen in Buddhism, different pagan religions where person is just a tiny grain of sand. This work can be used as calming and soothing mantra for people looking for salvation and rescue from their daily life difficulties.

Also, it has a pleasant soundtrack that is said to be healing and to be honest at some point it really seems that it calms your nerves and relaxes body after a tough day. You get faded away by the pacific, serene voice of a storyteller, your thoughts are far away and don’t bother you anymore. You are trying to rich harmonic state, to become one and united with nature, with your surroundings and to feel the energies around you.

Locations change and you get taken to different places in that miraculous condition. The woman telling the story has great costumes that represent the topic she is talking about. They match the whole vibe of the visual representation of that belief.

Unfortunately, visual effects were made not that good. They are more theatrical and sometimes overstep the main representation. They are made way too obvious and magical, like they belong to the cartoon. In this case I am not sure if the visualization of those is needed at all as the movements of Heather and music in the background are more than enough to immerse the viewer into the action.

"42 Ideals of Maat" by Heather Regal Salmon and Donny Regal.
Official Selection March - April 2022 program.
A British drama that is inspired by classic movie “The red shoes” it tells a story about ballerina Moira Shearer and her career.

Moira is a young girl who has spent her whole life learning ballet, trying to become a successful dancer got an offer to be in a movie. Director expects the young girl to take the offer as it is a great opportunity in his eyes, but does the main character thinks the same way?

The following scenes portray doubts and concerts of ballerina. She is being torn between her willingness to devote herself to dance and her desire to become a star. A great scene to depict the main character’s emotions was the spinning scene, when Moira is spinning while being surrounded with director Mr. Pressburger and Michael Powell. This scene is written with light. Red lights are changed with white ones creating an illusion of flashing beacons that cause an alarming feeling. Big shadows are created with those lights, and they are heavy, they pressure on Moira as the weight of difficult decision pressures her.

The actress Shannon Davidson splendidly manages to portray a complex character, she was weak and tender while also being fierce while fighting of grown men while stating her borders. She also managed to dance, sing, perform and act at the same time, moreover she did it very persuasive.

This is a movie with big attention to details. Let’s start with the opening credits, they are put in the beginning of the movie to honor everyone who participated in creative process. The name of the movie comes from Scottish Gaelic and translates as “Song of the Swan” and it is a symbol to her inner struggle in making a decision of her life.

"Òran na h-Eala" by Steve Exeter
Award Winner May - June 2022 program.
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