Betty Williams: Contagious Courage (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Betty Williams:  Contagious Courage (Straight Shooter Review)

Contagious Courage CoverDirector: Dawn Gifford Engle
Production Company:
Gravitas Ventures
Genre:
Documentary
Running Time:
67 min. 9 sec.
Budget:
$490,000
Expected Rating:
PG for realistic violence
Website: 
peacejamfilms.org/
Trailer: 
Click Here
Online Rent:
TBA
Online Purchase:
TBA
Reviewer:
Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 
7.5 – worth a watch at a festival or at home on streaming!

Chaos filled the streets of Northern Ireland in the 1970s.  Shootings, car bombings, and civilian death became the norm for citizens living through a time known as “The Troubles”.  The strife stemmed from fierce disagreement, both political and religious, between the Protestants and Catholics. No one was safe from this violence.  But for Betty Williams, the firsthand experience of living through violence served as a call to action. She made it her life’s mission to spread peace and protect children in the face of unrest- both in her turbulent home nation and around the globe.  The documentary film Betty Williams:  Contagious Courage, directed by Dawn Gifford Engle, documents Betty’s journey along with the events that sparked her struggle for peace.


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Glossary of Broken Dreams (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Glossary of Broken Dreams (Straight Shooter Review)

Glossary Of Broken Dreams coverDirector: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Distributor: Pace Films
Genre: Political Documentary
Running Time: 97 min 40 sec
Budget: $15,000
Expected Rating: PG
Website: Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBD
Online Purchase: TBD
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 5.2 – Worthwhile for existing fans, challenging for general public.

Johannes Grenzfurthner has grown tired of ignorance in political discourse. Armed with cameras, animation, a two-piece acoustic band, and a very unique sense of humor, he hopes to educate the rest of us on some key topics of political discourse, like “Capitalism”, “Freedom”, “Privacy”, “Identity”, “Resistance”, and “The Market”. The result: A kinda-sorta-documentary called Glossary of Broken Dreams.

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The Happiest Place on Earth (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, MicroFilmmaking, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 2 comments

The Happiest Place on Earth (Straight Shooter Review)

When Jonah (Tom Kemnitz Jr.) and Maggie (Jennifer Faith Ward) move into their dream home in Orlando to start their family, things take a sudden turn for the worse when Jonah loses his job at the local paper. Then, as they’re trying to figure out how to make ends meet to survive their mortgage, Jonah is lost at sea in a mysterious camping accident. Now Maggie has to deal with her grief while trying to do everything she can to save money so she won’t lose the anchor that’s drowning everything in her life: the house.

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Forever Under Siege (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Short Documentary) | 0 comments

Forever Under Siege (Straight Shooter Review)

Imagine coming home from war, but finding yourself unable to escape the terror and panic you felt on the battlefield. Feeling trapped, searching for exits whenever you walk into a coffee shop. Forcing yourself into seclusion, unable to go outdoors. And not having the words or the trust to describe your pain to others. In fact, many veterans of the Armed Forces struggle with these demons as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the documentary Forever Under Siege, filmmaker Stacy Stone talks to some of these veterans in order to shine a light on the enormity of PTSD, and to examine potential for healing.

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Oscar Arias: Without A Shot Fired (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Oscar Arias:  Without A Shot Fired (Straight Shooter Review)

Without a Shot Fired CoverDirector: Dawn Engle
Production Company: Gravitas Ventures
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 63 minutes
Budget: $300,000
Expected Rating: PG for war footage & adult concepts
Website:  peacejamfilms.org
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: Not Yet Available
Online Purchase: Not Yet Available
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score:  7.0 (out of 10)

Why is war a constant in our world?  The borders between conflicting nations may shift, and the reasons behind the battles may evolve, but the bloodshed never seems to stop.  Yet, one leader chooses not to let the status quo of violence dictate the future of humanity.

Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica, dedicates his life to the goal of de-weaponizing the world.  Filmmaker Dawn Engle shares his journey to end the cycle of destructive conflict between the globe’s citizens in her documentary, Oscar Arias:  Without A Shot Fired.


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My Own War (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

My Own War (Straight Shooter Review)

My Own War CoverDirector: Stacey Stone
Production Company/Distributor: Pace Films
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 52 min 39 sec
Budget: $15,000
Expected Rating: PG
Website:  MyOwnWar.com
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: Not Yet Available
Online Purchase: Not Yet Available
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score:  9.0 (out of 10)

For many soldiers haunted by the demons of battlefield experiences, discussing them with ordinary civilians may prove unbearable.  Even with their own health and well-being on the line, many would rather stay silent about their struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

MFM Award of Superiority

Filmmaker Stacey Stone brings this struggle to light through her documentary, My Own War.  In it, she attempts to open up conversations and illuminate a path towards healing for all of those who suffer from PTSD.  Her film, consisting mainly of intimate conversations with war veterans and those connected to them, certainly accomplishes this goal.


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Slim (Feature Critique)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Critiques, Critiques (Feature Narrative), Feature Length, Featured, Narrative | 0 comments

Slim (Feature Critique)

Slim Cover

Slim Cover

Director:  Michael Arell
Expected Rating: PG
Distribution: No known distribution
Budget: $0 (Due to Preowned Equipment and donations)
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: August 2017
Official Website: sleepydogfilmsusa.com
Trailer: Click Here
Online Version: Not currently available
Running Time: 82 minutes
Critique Issue: #133 (4/17)
Critiqued By: Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 3.1 (out of 10)

Slim (Michael Arell) is an overweight archaeologist who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in his life… That is, until his boss sends him on a mission to find the mythical Golden Dustpan.

While Slim gets himself into far more trouble than he expected on his quest, he ends up learning about himself and who he wants to be in the world.

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The Barren Pine (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 0 comments

The Barren Pine (Straight Shooter Review)

The Barren Pine CoverDirector: John Boggi
Production Company/Distributor: None
Genre: Horror/Drama
Running Time: 69 minutes 39 Seconds
Expected/Actual Rating: PG-13 due to language & adult situations
Website: Facebook
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBA
Online Purchase: TBA
Reviewer: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score: 5.0 (out of 10)  – A first feature film which may appeal to folks who like Lynchian experimentalism.

When Jake (Ken Sandberg), Byron (Owen McCuen), and Jack (Glenn Mercer) come to a forest reserve for a weekend retreat at a cabin, they’re surprised to meet an over enthusiastic forest ranger (Brian Holcomb) who warns them about the dangers of a mysterious area known as “Apple Island.”

Upon arriving at their cabin and getting settled, they are further surprised to meet Angela (Jacqueline Holloway) and her sister, Nora (Heather Cole), two young women who need a place to stay for the night—and who are mysteriously linked to a dark part of Apple Island’s sordid past.

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Smile Again, Jenny Lee (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 3:15 am in Feature Length, Featured, Narrative, Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 0 comments

Smile Again, Jenny Lee (Straight Shooter Review)

Smile Again, Jenny Lee Cover

Smile Again, Jenny Lee Cover

Director: Carlo Caldana
Production Company: Marguery Films Production
Genre: Drama/Mystery
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Date: December 2015
Expected Rating: PG-13, due to language
Website: Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Rent/Purchase: TBD
Novel: Click Here
Reviewer: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score: 8.0 – Worth seeing with an audience at a Regional Film Festival!

In 2013, Carlo Caldana released an independent novel called, Smile Again, Jenny Lee, about a world renowned tennis player with a personality like Tonya Harding, who got her leg messed up like Nancy Kerrigan. (Only in this tale, she actually was knocked out of her sport for good.)

Two years later, in a feat of moxy that’s truly impressive, Carlo Caldana translated his novel into a script, directed the film, and cast himself as the colead alongside Monique Hafen who played the titular Jenny Lee.

The tale of the film revolves around Jenny’s attempt to find her place in the world after losing her spot in tennis. Low on funds and about to be cut off by her wealthy mother (Linda DeMetrick), she agrees to help a lawyer named Charles Landale (Carlo Caldana) track down her absentee father, hoping that he will float her some cash. However, when the mystery of her father’s disappearance grows more ominous, she and Landale will have to keep their wits about them to unravel the mystery.


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Rigoberta Menchu: Daughter of the Maya (Straight Shooter Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Rigoberta Menchu: Daughter of the Maya (Straight Shooter Review)

Daughter of the Maya PosterDirector: Dawn Engle
Production Company: Gravitas
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 61 minutes
Release Date: June 2016
Expected Rating: PG-13, due to adult imagery and testimony
Website: PeaceJam.org
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: Click Here
Online Purchase: Click Here
Review Issue: #125 (07/16)
Reviewer
: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score: 9.5Definitely worth watching at a festival or with a community!

I grew up believing the Mayan Indians were a long lost civilization, like the lost tribe of the Maori. I knew about their amazing science and their calendar, but, at some time in my childhood, had come to believe that they’d been slaughtered by the Aztecs and no longer existed.

MFM Award of SuperiorityAs often happens with Dawn Engle’s films through PeaceJam, I learned a lot about both people groups and people that changed my perception through this film—not the least of which being that the Mayan Indians still exist as the indigenous people of Guatemala (as well as a number of other Latin American countries), despite genocidal attempts of a 36 year civil war.


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Traceroute (Straight Shooter Film Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Documentary, Feature Length, Featured, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Documentary) | 0 comments

Traceroute (Straight Shooter Film Review)

Traceroute PosterDirector: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Production Company: monochrom Propulsion Systems
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 120 min
Expected Rating: R due to language and some sexual imagery
Website: Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBA
Online Purchase: TBA
Reviewer: Jeremy T. Hanke
Final Score: 7.5 (out of 10)

Austrian filmmaker Johannes Grenzfurthner is on a mission to find all the nerdiest spots and people in America—at least, all the spots associated with the nerdy people he connected with online ahead of time.

With a roadmap that takes him 7,000 miles (from California to New York) and an agenda of communist apologetics to share, he sets out to explore everything from creature effects companies to sex-geeks to massive caves to cyberpunks to alien researchers—all from an outsider’s perspective.


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LessLOST (Straight Shooter Film Review)

Posted by on 7:00 am in Featured, Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews, Straight Shooter Reviews (Feature Narrative) | 0 comments

LessLOST (Straight Shooter Film Review)

LessLOST CoverDirector: Chase Conner
Production Company: Out Of The Barrel Productions
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 77 minutes
Budget: $20,000
Expected Rating: R for language and situations
Website: Click Here
Trailer: Click Here
Online Rent: TBD
Online Purchase: TBD
Reviewer: Manuel Crosby
Final Score: 8.0 (out of 10)

For soldiers who have survived the horrors of war, coping with the psychological trauma back home can be its own battle.  LessLOST, directed by Chase Conner, follows Luke (Shane Fike), a medically-retired U.S. Army soldier who must now readjust to civilian life.  However, his mental stress continually worsens, so much that he becomes a threat to his wife, Jen (Heather Dodson), and young daughter (Leisa DeGeorge).  Will Luke spiral downward under the burden of what he went through in combat, losing his family in the process?  Or can a fellow veteran, Darien (Brandon Alexander), help him come to terms with his pain and begin to heal?


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