1. IN THE WAKE ^ San Francisco filmmaker Erica Jordan’s devastating drama of a sculptor’s emergence from a state of emotional inertia is the ultimate rarity in contemporary cinema: a work of art and a work of intelligence. Beautifully acted and graced with a subtle charm that ultimately proves both devastating and invigorating, this is a major work from a highly gifted artists and it is nothing short of criminal that this haunting feature has not yet received a theatrical release. ^ STATUS: Currently on the festival circuit; no theatrical or home video premiere announced.
2. DRIFT ^ Writer/director Quentin Lee skated the rough edges of a gay love triangle in this uncommonly mature and sensitive drama. The subtle performances by the talented ensemble cast provide some of the finest acting presented on screen this year, while Lee’s witty screenplay and stylish direction mirror inanities and frailties of the human condition with an accuracy that is rare in most movies. ^ STATUS: US theatrical and home video release slated for early 2002.
3. WIRED ANGEL ^ Sam Wells’ brilliantly avant-garde celebration of the life and legacy of Joan of Arc offered a masterpiece of experimental filmmaking. Using the most stunning black-and-white cinematography imaginable and an inventively layered soundtrack, the film presented a wild challenge to the mind and soul while questioning how the doomed saint was misperceived both in own her day and in today’s hero-hungry environment. ^ STATUS: Currently on the festival circuit; no theatrical or home video premiere announced.
4. CAPTURED ON FILM: THE TRUE STORY OF MARION DAVIES ^ A superior show biz documentary which rescued the reputation of the much-maligned actress with an astonishing line-up of rarely-seen film scenes offering irrefutable proof of her considerable talents in comedy, singing and dramatic roles. For those who long dismissed Marion Davies as a talentless footnote in Hollywood history, this stunning film confirms her extraordinary talent on-screen and her peerless warmth and generosity off-screen. ^ STATUS: Currently on home video from Milestone Film & Video.
5. HARSH LIGHT ^ This gritty noir-style short drama of a fading boxer’s stumble into a drug ring turf battle presented a knockout calling card for rising filmmaker E.B. Hughes. Brilliantly photographed and blessed with a gifted ensemble who responded perfectly to the subtle and twisty screenplay, this is one of the finest short subjects to come along in many years. ^ STATUS: Concluded festival circuit run and played in a New York theatrical engagement this fall; no home video premiere announced.
6. THE TURKISH STAR WARS ^ The retro discovery of the year is this astonishing 1982 endeavor which liberally “borrowed” FX footage from the George Lucas landmark and grafted it into a no-budget free-fall where two middle-aged space jockeys and a foxy faux-blonde save the world from an army of mummies, a battalion of gladiators, and a big blue robot with an ambulance light on his head. This one needs to be seen to be believed! ^ STATUS: On home video from Shocking Videos; to be screened in New York on January 14 at the Two Boots Den of Cin.
Get the rest of the list in the next part of THE 10 BEST UNSEEN FILMS OF 2001>>>