As much as we at Film Threat like to consider ourselves an outlet and advocate for independent filmmaking, we all have to laugh at ourselves on occasion. Laugh you will, with Alex Ferrari’s On the Corner of Ego and Desire. If you’ve ever been to the Sundance Film Festival or ever wanted to bring your movie there, Ferrari will give you a much-needed slap of reality with this 74-minute comedy.
On the Corner of Ego and Desire follows a trio of filmmakers on their first trip to Sundance. Our team is there to get their film in front of famed producer, R.B. (Richard Botto), who “invited” them to Sundance to pitch their trailer. The team consists of director Julia (Sonja O’Hara), who also wrote the feature; Johnny (Rob Alicea), the producer and writer; and Lorenzo (Randy Ramos Jr.), the actor, who is also the editor.
Our trio navigates the festival from one mishap to the next, including an AirBnB reservation that fell through at the last minute, climbing a massive staircase in the high altitudes of Park City, and how your IMDb Pro membership gets you into nothing. Misadventures aside, the real story is about the relationship between the three filmmakers. Each one has their own personal advantage to gain by selling the film at Sundance, and these selfish desires begin to tear down the team as the “vision” of the trip deteriorates. The first conflict being who is the real writer of their movie?
“…to get their film in front of famed producer, R.B., who ‘invited’ them to Sundance…”
Shot in a pseudo-documentary style, On the Corner of Ego and Desire adeptly pokes fun at not only the Sundance Film Festival but also at the lofty dreams of independent filmmakers and artists. Julia is probably the one who suffers from this the most when she misinterprets her team being “invited to Sundance.” Her approach to making pictures feels like it comes from “The Secret,” where all one has to do is envision what you want, and the gods of Sundance will somehow manifest it into being.
The cast deserves a lot of credit for the film being so good. I’ve met people like Julia, and Sonja O’Hara is brilliant. First, as she goes on these long rambling tirades about her vision and vision boards, she believes every word she says without a smirk or a flinch. Randy Ramos plays Lorenzo as a fanboy, just glad to be there, and prefers to avoid any conflict with Julia and Johnny. Rob Alicea has the most challenging role as the producer who appears to have everything put together but slowly losing control throughout the movie. As a trio, I couldn’t help but love their bold naivete about the business of filmmaking and the inner workings of a major festival.
What makes Ferrari’s story as a comedy work is how he pushes everything to the extreme for the joke but finds the right balance between farce and reality. The set-ups are familiar, and the punchlines come through akin to Christopher Guest and company without ever feeling overly improvised. If I had a complaint, the ending has a few too many talking-head “what I learned about myself” moments.
I love comedies, partly because it’s one of the most challenging styles of storytelling to pull off. On the Corner of Ego and Desire works because every aspect of the narrative and joke is grounded in reality, and as silly as the jokes are, they are told earnestly. It works because of good writing and acting from start to finish.
"…finds the right balance between farce and reality."