Weinstein Lexus Short Film Series Three Review – Attention Grabbing, Comedy, and Mysticism Make the Cut

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Four films, Game, Friday Night, Messiah, and The Nation Holds its Breath, selected in Series Three of the Lexus Short Films competition continue to raise the bar in what has become an extremely successful partnership.

Each of the four films are unique in that while produced by Joey Horvitz, the Directors are selected from nearly 4500 submissions and narrowed to the final four. With the prize partnering with Weinstein Company on making the film, budding filmmakers everywhere are creating unique and poignant stories.  

Rising to the top in Series Three Game, Friday Night, Messiah and The Nation Holds its Breath. Four uniquely different and deeply resonating films that cover a range of topics including gender equality in the award winning Game, mysticism in the aborigines spiritual comedy Messiah, a mother searching in Paris for her daughter in the very personal Friday Night and the family comedy sports drama, The Nation Holds its Breath.

Game -  Solid, A Sure Winner

Game, produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company, presents the story of gender equality and the desire to be the best, the drive and skill to prove it. Written by Jeannie Donohue, Game stars Rick Fox and newcomer Nicole Williams.

The fifteen minute short film is solid, engaging and maintains the attention, not simply as it is clearly an underdog story even before the plot is revealed we see an androgynous, possibly transgender basketball player, a shrimp of a guy, suddenly showing up and exhibiting star qualities.

Nicole Williams, plays AJ Green, she comes to acting by accident as casting for the role was a challenge, an androgynous female, who could seriously play basketball, I mean play competitive basketball as the former LA Lakers Rick Fox was cast to play the coach. Ball players everywhere showed up and no female.

As production neared, casting were pulling females from anywhere, malls, church, the grocery store, and finally found Nicole at Urban Outfitters and she could hold her own. Having the chance to speak with her the interview will follow separately.

Game is more than 15 minutes of basketball tryouts for the high School Award winning Varsity team. As confidence in Collins, played by Ty White, the MVP three years in a row, begins to wane the young AJ moves up hitting from the line, plays point as a team leader, not afraid to pass, not a ball hog, AJ plays to win. Collins plays to showcase himself and destroy AJ.

Ty White stars as Collins, Jamie McShane plays the Assistant Coach, Charles Parnell plays as AJ's father with Jeff Bee, Dominique Columbus, Josh David, Norman Johnson, Christian Pierce, and Michael Purdie.  

Game has won eleven awards at various film festivals including a Bronze Lion Award at the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity.

Friday Night – A Heartfelt Tribute

Friday Night, produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company, tells the story of a mother searching for her daughter, in a foreign country, after the news of a succession of terror attacks have  crippled a city leaving many dead.

Written and directed by Alexis Michalik, Friday Night Stars Adria Tennor, David Coburn, Alexys Gabrielle, Charles Lelaure, Raphaelle Agogue and Regis Valee.


Celebrity Interview: Weinstein Producer Joey Horvitz Talks on The Lexus Weinstein Short Film Contest, The Process, and Partnership


Friday Night, while is not intended to be based on the Paris Attacks of November 2015, has a unique story as the director, Alexis Michalik original script, a Sci-Fi submission, won him a place in the final four, he was in Paris, his home, and barely managed to arrive at the Napa Valley Film Festival announcement, on the plane home he wrote this script and petitioned The Weinstein Company who petitioned Lexus and they permitted his new script to be made.

Friday Night begins with Claire, played by Adria Tennor, who barely speaks French, attempting to have conversation with a French couple who intermittently speak in French to each other while she stars blankly unable to comprehend when notifications are coming across everyone handheld.

Suddenly all conversation has stopped and the room is silenced by the news which parallels the November 13, 2015, coordinated Terror Attacks, clips of sound and we can fill in the blanks.

Claire, who is in the middle of a divorce, in unable to reach her daughter Tess, played by Alexys Gabrielle, has nearly zero French language skills, manages to contact her estranged husband, David, played by David Coburn, who is the U.S. and between the two they spend the night attempting to regain contact with their daughter, whose Facebook page has her right in the middle the night of horror.

Friday Night is an expressive, emotional reminder of the heartbreaking attacks.


LEXUS and The Weinstein Company Present Short Film Directors Jon Goldman and Satsuki Okawa


 

Messiah - Comedy in the Outback

Messiah, produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company, presents the story of a hapless Irishman who while on vacation in Australia's Outback believes a chance encounter is the transcendental experience he's longed to find.

Directed by Damian Walshe-Howling, Messiah stars Stephen Hunter, Chloe Boreham and Mark Coles Smith and David Gulpilil, the most acclaimed Aborigines actor globally.

Messiah opens as the sun is rising on the outback and an aborigine is walking, in what appears to be a spiritual journey, kneeling at a pool of water, he makes a sound, and the hollow eyes of an alligator rise to the surface.

The scenes fades and we meet Moylan, played by Stephen Hunter, traveling with his Parisian girlfriend, played by Chloe Boreham, in the Outback, in an old VW mini-van. The sounds of Van Morrison, the Irishman's soul and poetic compass, plays softly and Moylan, a ruddy teddy bear is grooving on the master's tunes.

As the two argue over the Camel races or the outback experience, our Aborigine appears in the middle of the road, and the suddenly the two are jumping out of the van believing they have run over an Australian treasure.

Stunned as they are sure the car collided with him, the man has moved past them and is continuing his journey. Moylan, believes he has had an encounter with the Messiah, and there is no other explanation.

What follow as Moylan sets off following the Messiah is good fun as he treks across the outback looking for his miracle.

The Nation Holds its Breath – One Amazing Day

The Nation Holds its Breath, produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company, presents the story of the single most important day in Irish History, as the footballers are playing for a birth in the quarter finals of the World Cup.

Directed by Kev Cahill, The Nation Holds it Breath, stars Barbara Brennan, Kate Gilmore, Eva Hein West, Sam Keeley, Lorna Larkin, Ally Ni Chiarain and Myles Purcell.

The Nation Holds it Breath opens with our young couple played by Sam Keely and Kate Gilmore, practicing Lamaze breathing as they are two weeks away from the due date and today is the BIG day as the Irish footballers play for a chance at the World Cup in Soccer.

Just as the game is about to start, a second big day is about to start as our young couple suddenly begin to feel the pangs of labor. She is quick to explain we can wait, and then finally are two minutes, they decide heading to the hospital is best.

When they get to the deserted hospital as everyone is "gone to see the game" Mrs. Bronson, played by Ally Ni Chiarain, lets our young couple know "it's only a waiting game now." And she's off to see the game.

On the order of his wife, our expectant father is searching the halls of the hospital for a room with a Television. He finds one and what follows in the next twenty minutes are an hilarious look at football fever, the frustrations of cable and sudden comradery. Not forgetting our expectant mother, the ending provides an emotional wake up of what really matters.

A Nation Holds its Breath, a favorite with the audience at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, took the Audience Award.

Nearly 60 winners of the Lexus Short Film competition can be viewed here.