Top 10 Must See Films From the We Are One Film Festival

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Top 10 Must See Films From the We Are One Film Festival

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Even during unprecedented times, cinema will find a way. For this list, we'll be looking at a mix of features and shorts that will be streaming for free on YouTube as part of this online film festival, which is being produced in partnership with Tribeca Enterprises. Our countdown includes films such as “The Light Side” (2020), “Motorcycle Drive By” (2020), “Crazy World” (2014) and more! Which film do YOU think is a must see from the We Are One Film Festival? Let us know in the comments!
Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Must See Films from the We Are One Film Festival

Even during unprecedented times, cinema will find a way. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Must See Films from the We Are One Film Festival.

For this list, we’ll be looking at a mix of features and shorts that will be streaming for free on YouTube as part of this online film festival, which is being produced in partnership with Tribeca Enterprises. Running from May 29 to June 7, the We Are One Film Festival could be a trendsetter in an era of streaming and COVID-19, and we’re here to break down the festival’s stacked program to tell you the must sees!


#10: “Bilby” (2018)

DreamWorks is one of the biggest brand names in animation, but some of their recent shorts might’ve flown under your radar. “Marooned” centers on the cutest animated robot since WALL-E and “Bird Karma” builds to a hilariously grim conclusion. The most irresistible of the bunch, however, is “Bilby,” which stemmed from a scrapped feature entitled “Larrikins.” Taking place in the ruthless Australian Outback, the plot revolves around a timid bilby who musters up the courage to help an abandoned chick. It’s a familiar setup, wonderfully told through expressive animation, sharp comedic timing, and plenty of heart. Earning the Jury’s Choice Award at SIGGRAPH and getting shortlisted for Best Animated Short consideration at the Academy Awards, “Bilby” is guaranteed to leave you feeling elevated.

#9: “The Light Side” (2020)

Finished binging “The Clone Wars?” Don’t worry, we got some fresh “Star Wars” content for you, although it’s not on Disney+. Technically, this short isn’t even a Lucasfilm product, but as long as it has lightsabers, we’re game! Written and directed by Ryan Ebner, “The Light Side” follows an elderly Sith Lord played by Joseph Ragno, who you might recognize from supporting roles in films like “The Shawshank Redemption” and shows like “Jessica Jones.” Forced to confront his old age and past, the Sith Lord finds that true power may lie in humility. Although we all associate “Star Wars” with revolutionary special effects and sizable budgets, it’s fun to see an independent artist tackle this mythology on a “lighter” scale without any dark overlords interfering.

#8: “Atlantiques” (2009)

Mati Diop’s profile has risen considerably in recent years thanks to her first feature, “Atlantics,” which received a worldwide release through Netflix in 2019. That supernatural romance was loosely inspired by a documentary short Diop made ten years earlier. “Atlantiques” tells the story of two Senegalese friends who must illegally migrate across the ocean to Europe. The perilous journey that ensues is as shocking as it is poignant. “Atlantiques” won Diop a slew of accolades, including the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. If you’ve already seen Diop’s feature debut, this 2009 short is an essential companion piece. Of course, if you never heard of Diop before, now’s as good as time as any to get familiar with this experimental filmmaker’s work.

#7: “Yalta Conference Online” (2020)

In February 1945, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin came together to discuss the prospect of peace following World War II. This short from Japanese director Koji Fukada interprets that historic Allied meeting through a dark satirical lens. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that “Yalta Conference Online” was made exclusively for this film festival. Given our divided political climate and ever-growing reliance on video messaging, this short is definitely in sync with the current zeitgeist, despite being based on events that happened seventy-five years ago.

#6: “Motorcycle Drive By” (2020)

Like most other live performers, Third Eye Blind had to adjust its tour dates due to the pandemic. Even when they aren’t playing live, though, this rock band can bring people together in harmony. “Motorcycle Drive By” often gets lost in the shuffle compared to “Semi-Charmed Life,” “How’s It Going to Be,” and a few other songs that debuted on their first studio album. Since 1997, however, the song has developed a cult following, even serving as the basis for this twenty-two-minute documentary short. David Wexler’s film provides a backstage tour of the eponymous song’s genesis, endurance, and passionate fanbase. This isn’t just a love letter to the song, but also the group that gave us it. Don’t turn a blind eye to this one.

#5: “Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records” (2018)

“Motorcycle Drive By” isn’t the only music documentary worth checking out. “Rudeboy” takes us back to the late 60s and early 70s when Trojan Records helped bring reggae, ska, and rocksteady into the British mainstream. Even more significant, the record label helped bridge the gap between two cultures as Jamaican immigrants adjusted to life in Britain. During these trying times, music served as a beacon of hope, comfort, and unity, turning the dance floor into a neutral territory of sorts. As influential as Trojan Records was, it’s impact has largely slipped by unnoticed, not unlike a Trojan Horse. This inspiring documentary feature shines a spotlight on an unsung chapter in music history with interviews from Marcia Griffiths, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and other music legends.

#4: “Crazy World” (2014)

“Crazy World” most certainly lives up to its title, which is to be expected from any movie by writer/director Nabwana I.G.G.. This film mixes elements of martial arts, slapstick comedy, and exploitation, playing out almost like a “Home Alone” movie if it were directed by Black Dynamite. The Tiger Mafia has been snatching children in order to drain them of their supposed “magical properties.” Unfortunately for the mobsters, they just so happened to abduct the Waka Stars, who look small but pack a powerful punch. All the way, their parents stage an equally bizarre rescue plan. The film fully embraces its own insanity, which rubs off on the audience in all the right ways. It truly is a film you must see to believe.

#3: “The Epic of Everest” (1924)

The oldest film on our list, this documentary feature came out almost 100 years ago in 1924. Captain John Noel chronicles the ill-fated expedition of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine as they tried to reach the summit of Mount Everest. This would be the mountaineers’ third and final attempt to conquer Everest, as they vanished somewhere along the northeast ridge. Mallory’s body was recovered in 1999 while Irvine’s remains unfound. In 2013, “The Epic of Everest” was digitally restored by the BFI with a score by Simon Fisher Turner. The footage Noel captured has never been more breathtaking, awe-inspiring, or intimidating. While a film of this magnitude deserves the big-screen treatment, it’ll still give you chills from the comfort of your home.

#2: “Mystery Road” (2013)

“Mystery Road” was nominated for Best Film at the AACTA Awards, which is essentially the Australian equivalent to an Academy Award. It was a worthy nomination for a film that’s gone mostly overlooked in North America since its initial 2013 release. The Outback provides a harsh backdrop for this neo-western, which follows a stoic detective’s pursuit of a little girl’s murderer. In addition to Aaron Pedersen’s stern lead performance, the film’s success primarily rests on the shoulders of director Ivan Sen, who also wrote, shot, edited, and composed this bad boy. Narratively, “Mystery Road” can feel like a slow burn, but Sen’s atmospheric cinematography and intense score will keep you hooked every step of the way.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“A City Called Macau” (2018)
“Eeb Allay Ooo!” (2019)
“Electric Swan” (2019)
“Air Conditioner” (2020)
“Bridges of Sarajevo” (2014)

#1: “Ricky Powell: The Individualist” (2020)

Of all the documentaries making their world premiere at the We Are One Film Festival, “Ricky Powell: The Individualist” has arguably attracted the most attention. Anyone who knows Ricky Powell will understand why. If you don’t know who Powell is, this is the perfect place to start. This street photographer started taking pictures just for fun, but he hit the big time in the mid-80s when the Beastie Boys brought him along on tour. This feature paints a portrait of the Rickster’s rise to fame, as well as the darker aspects of his life. While the doc includes interviews from LL Cool J, Laurence Fishburne, and Natasha Lyonne, among others, it’s Powell’s photos that tell the real story, encapsulating New York at its most majestic.
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