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Saudade – A Kemal Yildirim Film

Over the years I’ve had the honor to review Indy films from several different production companies.

Kemal Yildirim was one of the first producers to approach me. I remember wondering if I was up to the task of reviewing.

My first love is music and although I do watch a fair amount of stuff, I certainly am no film guru. But maybe that gives me an edge. I’m just an average guy when it comes to film and my response to it. No great, learned film school cred to boast of. So maybe I can speak for the common woman and man and not just Indy film buffs.

A few of the low-budget films I’ve considered in the past were, at first sight, pretty challenging. But I always wait before writing, trying to see things through the producer’s eye instead of simply reacting. From being flexible I’ve learned a lot and have come to appreciate how the mix of images and themes indirectly fit into my own life.

It’s a fine line, being an amateur, untutored reviewer like myself. You have to strike the balance. Give the film a positive spin, if possible, while not compromising your integrity.

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Alice (Holly-Rose Durham) and her father Wilhelm (Sean Botha) – Used with permission

Today, after watching the latest release from writer, director, and actor Kemal Yildirim, it’s easy to find words of praise.

I enjoyed Saudade, named after a word alluding to a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia. It’s one of the first films I’ve seen in a long time without clicking Pause. I do that a lot…

So what’s this film about?

Well, on the surface we have a troubled couple making out, slapping each other around kind of film. Essentially flashbacks of a stormy romance with fairly straightforward images of coffee grinding and cleansing (Lady Macbeth?). But the camerawork, pacing and strong performances suggest more.

Not wanting to give a spoiler I won’t go overboard on the details. I’ll just mention a certain ambiguity running right up till the end that kept me hanging in.

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Alice and Tris (Kemal Yildirim) – Used with permission

In one hazy shot, we don’t know if the attractive but distressed Alice is going to hang herself on a tree outside her window or if that is her dead mother dangling on a rope. We can’t tell if we’re looking into the future, an imagined future, or a grim memory. And what of the night scene toward the end where Alice walks outside and starts digging. Is that her own grave? Someone else’s?

A phone call in the closing scene could tie it all up. Make Saudade clear. But I was still trying to put things together after the credits.

Some might find this deliberate mystification lacking and others, satisfying. There is no definite epiphany; instead, we’re just left with lingering questions.

If we were to compare this short film to music, someone like Erik Satie might come to mind. The tight edits are reminiscent of the parsimony in Satie’s work. And the overall feel is atmospheric and somewhat ambiguous, again like Satie.

I’ve been reviewing Yildirim’s films for almost a decade, and Saudade is a definite step forward or perhaps a shift in direction. The film deals with memories, emotion and is infinitely subtler than the director’s earlier projects.

Saudade is an open-ended drama that will probably speak to more moviegoers than we realize.


Saudade was produced by Kemal Yildirim and Mol Smith. Before writing this I looked at, where one can find an excellent screenshot of the digging scene and more info.

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Review – Tales of the Dead (DVD)

Image courtesy Reality Entertainment

Title: Tales of the Dead!
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Distribution: Reality Entertainment

Originally posted 2010/09/08

Just in time for Halloween. Tales of the Dead is a vivid introduction to the realm of horror as envisioned by the independent UK filmmaker, Kemal Yildirim.

Not being a huge horror fan, myself, it took me a while to get past my biases and crack open the DVD case, let alone watch this film.

On first try I just reviewed snippets to prepare myself for what I’d be in for. This allowed me to get my proverbial shields up and watch the entire film, later that evening. And yes, this definitely is a movie to be watched after dark. You might want to take it to a Halloween party. Maybe not!

Tales of the Dead is not for the weak of heart. It’s pretty shocking, contains brief nudity, and isn’t shy of presenting graphic violence.

Without serving up a spoiler, the basic story is about five friends who gather for a private Halloween party. This convincing part of the film is replete with drinking, smoking and profane language, as many of the younger crowd no doubt carry on in these days of global recession and the war on terror.

The film quickly shifts to the surreal as the revelers begin telling ghost stories and grim tales of urban horror. Several the five party guests bring short horror videos to share with their friends, which effectively leads into and unifies different shorts.

The first video, “Less is More” calls to mind several classic horror themes, aptly synthesized to make it difficult to trace a particular influence to a given scene. A bit of Edgar Allen Poe here, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle there. The plot involves a severely troubled woman who desires a mysterious surgery that she believes will cure all her problems. Her decent husband tries to understand but, as her obsession mounts, he can only take so much. A social worker suggests she try a psychiatrist, but a coincidental encounter in the night takes her entirely somewhere else.

The result? Well, let’s just say that this kind of film making is certainly not for everyone.

The second short, “Wolf Cry” is surprisingly clever at places, even if you’re not into horror, per se. We see into a young man’s incredibly delusional, amusing and horrifying imagination. This is probably the smartest segment of the DVD, sociologically speaking. Some scenes turn out to be ingeniously fresh vignettes about systemic hypocrisy and, as the sociologist Max Weber once put it, the Protestant work ethic.

“Penance,” the third short, also plays on several existing horror themes. In the DVD’s special features, Yildirim explains that he wants to pay homage to some of the great directors within the genre while still making his own cinematic statement.

And this he does.

In this short, a boozy British police inspector is called to investigate a disturbing homicide. The inspector apparently has links with the killer, and sometimes we wonder if he, himself, is the maniac.

The fourth short, “Missing” plays on the fabled Cromwell’s Curse, which in urban legend is linked to the historical Northamptonshire witch trials of 1612. This portion contains some haunting street and good library scenes, but I found it the least engaging of the lot. We hear lots of “Oh my God… did you see that?” but don’t really witness anything for ourselves.

Oh yes, it’s all fiction and archetypal fun. I forgot. But if so, a few actors running through the night in white sheets might have helped.

The final tale is told by the only woman at the Halloween party. Like her guy friends, she’s trendy and hip. But unlike her groovy pals, she doesn’t bring a video to the party. Her story is apparently real…

Special features for Tales of the Dead include “The Making of Wolf Cry” and “The Making of Penance.” These sneak peeks show how an indie horror film is actually made. They reveal the hard work, camaraderie and technology that goes into independent film making—ironically humanizing our experience of an, otherwise, totally “out there” film.


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Mistified – Upcoming indie film about the Maori, self and spirit



We now have Part 2 of an interview about the upcoming indie film called Mistified, a story about the Maori living in New Zealand (Here’s Part 1, if you missed it).

Kathy Wilson, producer of the film, has spent much time among the tribes and has dived full-heartedly into making this project a success, not just for them, but for what they stand for; their relations to the earth and spirituality.

Why do you see Mistified as a movie and not a book?

Why a film: because there is no other media that provides the opportunity to immerse a group people into an experience. Words, sounds, and visuals can create an inspiring and sometimes transformational experience that an individual may carry with them for the rest of their life. Films are the quintessence of “sound” and “light,” the transformative frequencies we humans resonate with.

I believe Mistified will trigger ancient memories that will encourage viewers to embark on their own epic, magical journeys. Hopefully, the heroine and her journey will trigger you down the “yellow brick road” of your own creation.  What the movie has done for me, I believe it will do for others.

How have you changed spiritually after your time in New Zealand?

It is hard for me to evaluate my spiritual progress into words. I can still get overwhelmed with all the things I think I need to be accomplished each day, however, I do have more of an awareness that things seem to happen in their own divine order when I stop trying to control everything.

Did you experience a phenomenon while spending time with the Maori? If so, was it life changing?

Yes. On my first trip when I journeyed with my friend, Barry. I went to explore some rock formations by his home. There are three distinct groupings of very large boulders. When you enter there is a rock that resembles the Mother Mary. The legion is that each area represents a different lineage of tribe: the water, stone and air peoples. When we hiked into the area I had no idea where we were. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was enjoying the majesty of these huge boulders. I wondered off onto a ledge overlooking a valley. I sat on the edge totally engulfed in the beauty, the warmth of the sun and soft, gentle breeze were glorious. I’m not sure how long I stayed, as time seemed to stand still, but when I got up and turned to go back, all these beautiful giant boulders around me now looked very different. They appeared to be in the shapes of sea animals. Everyone I looked at resembled a different sea creature and the biggest shock was when I turned and looked at where I had been sitting. It was a huge whale and I had been sitting on the tail. I was then told I had been in the section of boulders that represented the water people. I don’t know what others see when they go there, but that was my experience and for me, a very awe-inspiring moment in my life.

How do you expect to be changed after working on this production?

I can’t say for now, however, I know it will be a grand adventure with possibilities beyond my wildest dreams.

Lastly, how can we follow the project?

There are five ways we would love you to connect with us:

  1. Join our mailing list at
  2. Like our Facebook Page
  3. Chat to us on Twitter (don’t have as yet)
  4. Donate at http://www.indigogo  (link coming soon)
  5. Read our blog at

Haere mai, welcome…..come on in and join us.


Mistified – Upcoming indie film about the Maori, self discovery and the beyond


Courtesy: is happy to post Part 1 of a recent interview about the upcoming indie film called Mistified, a story about the Maori living in New Zealand.

Kathy Wilson, producer of the film, has spent much time among the tribes and has dived full-heartedly into making this project a success, not just for them, but for what they stand for; their relations to the earth and spirituality.

Are you excited about getting this campaign off the ground?

I am very excited about getting our Indiegogo campaign off the ground. It is our opportunity to start creating our community, to let people know about our project, and to create the initial funding needed to move the project forward.

Is this film only for the spiritually educated?

Not at all; it is a universal story. I believe we are all spiritually educated, yet some of us might not have learned how to listen to the part of us, the inner guidance, that speaks to us, whether we listen or not.

You seem to be dedicated to this project. How is this different from your past endeavors?

I am a very persistent person when it comes to seeing something through. In my corporate and business life, I have accomplished things I would have never deemed possible.  Although I have questioned my sanity on many occasions in regards to this undertaking, there is something within me that just won’t let it go. At times it seems if I were to listen to the experts and statistics, common sense would say “turn and run.” Yet, for whatever reason, logic is not what is driving this project. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I do know one thing: I will see it through to the end.

What can we learn from watching the film?

How life takes us on unexpected journeys that we could never have predicted. Whether you believe there is a guiding force in your life or not, each road you take can have a purpose for preparing you for the next fork in the road. That sometimes embracing the unknown and having a willingness to go down the rabbit hole just might result an experience beyond your wildest dreams. Life sometimes takes great leaps of faith. Those that learn how to take those leaps, start to find their way through the maze. The trick is not to get stuck in always having to know. Sometimes the power is in not knowing and being open to all possibilities.

How can we be a part of the Mistified community?

We would love for you to go to our website at and join our community. Our blog will keep you updated on our progress. Please also check out our Indiegogo campaign which is running from Nov. 13th until the middle of Jan. 2014.  We have some amazing “Perks” and all donations are tax deductible.

» Go to Part 2 of the interview.

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Review – The Turning (DVD)

Title: The Turning
Genre: Action Thriller, Horror, Urban Legend
Language: English
Director: Jason Impey

A monstrous murder and murderous monsters. That pretty well sums up The Turning, a new zombie thriller by British Indy filmmaker Jason Impey.

It took me a few weeks to get my head into watching this film. I’m not a huge fan of zombie flicks. I don’t even know if I’ve seen the Night of the Living Dead from start to finish.

But the deeper I got into this one, the more I enjoyed it. The acting is surprisingly strong. And the cinematography is quite creative.

Also noteworthy is the extensive use of black-and-white flashbacks. The reasons behind some stark and ugly situations are gradually explained as the story jumps, several times, between past and present. And the switch from color (for the present) to B/W (for flashbacks) makes the film a cinch to follow. This is good for folks (like me) who tend to pick up on a film’s atmosphere and environment, sometimes at the expense of remembering every storyline detail.

There are some graphic images of violence in this film (although the sex scenes are surprisingly tame). And its repeated use of the “F”-word didn’t do much for me. This kind of fare certainly is not for everyone. But, gruesome zombies aside, The Turning doesn’t conjure up anything that doesn’t already exist. So we could say that it merely points to some aspects of society that, for better or worse, are out there.

As for the stiff and twisted zombies, some are a bit more convincing than others but, on the whole, these scenes come off pretty well.

How can you tell a real zombie from a fake one? you might ask. Well, if zombies belong in the realms of urban legend, folklore and myth, some depictions just hit the nail on the head better than others.

Scholars of folklore and myth have written countless pages about the close connection between love and death. Joseph Campbell devotes an entire chapter of his The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology to what he calls “The Ritual Love-Death.”

Campbell talks about the same kind of mythic themes that crop up in The Turning–themes like love, infidelity, jealousy, violence, death and resurrection. The only difference is that this raw shocker flick brings to life what many ‘respectable’ researchers also delight in, but only under several layers of institutional varnish and, sometimes, shoddy obscurantism.

Now, being an open-minded person has its pros and cons. One pro is that you keep growing by not shutting out those things that could be upsetting. A con is that, well, sometimes you just get totally grossed out.

Toward the end of the movie, I instinctively threw up some psychological shields to guard against some icky props and abject imagery that I’ll never like. But, to be fair, the film treats these vile images responsibly. It’s just the images, themselves, that make me squirm.

An unexpected ending involves eugenics and reminds me of that warped, sadistic scientist played by William B. Davis in The Outer Limits episode “Worlds Within.” Only this time, the wacko is a woman.

Some may find this film unpleasantly dark and creepy. Others might take it as a bizarre freak show or, depending on your outlook, a tongue-in-cheek lark. Whatever you make of it, The Turning calls to mind Shane Carruth‘s sci-fi sleeper, Primer. Both films are proof positive that you don’t need a bloated production budget to push boundaries and, in so doing, make a statement.