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Rejected By Sundance, Profile #1 - Watch Michael Fequiere's Short Film "Traum"

by Tambay A. Obenson
December 5, 2011 11:00 AM
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Last week, after the Sundance festival committee announced its 2012 slate, I posted an entry requesting all those who submitted films to the festival, whose films were rejected, to email me and introduce themselves and their films, so that I can, at the very least, take a look at their work, and get to know the filmmakers. It's something I've done in previous years since this site's beginnings; and I'm glad to say that, unlike the last 2 years I made the request, this year, I received quite a lot of responses, thanks in part to the site's growth over the last 2 1/2 years, as well as raised awareness since joining the indieWIRE network earlier this year.

A big THANK YOU to those who were brave enough to share their work with me, despite the Sundance rejection; some of you even included your rejection notices from Sundance!

I haven't had an opportunity to look at every single response yet, though I'm getting to them gradually.

As for what I'm going to do with the information I didn't have before... I plan to share the works of those who approve of my sharing their projects on S&A; and since my intent here has always been to *discover* black filmmakers I wasn't already aware of, and, in turn, expose them to readers of this site, I plan to add these filmmakers to my talent contact list, so that I can stay abreast of what they're doing from henceforth.

So, starting today, I'll highlight works by those who allow me to share their work, without any bias; meaning, I'll post them here for you all to see (the shorts primarily), or just know about (the features), regardless of my personal feelings about them. So I'm not sharing those that I think are *good,* *bad* or whatever. I'm just going to post them in the order I received them... again, just those who give me their approval to do so.

First up is a short film called Traum by Brooklyn-based filmmaker Michael Fequiere. It's just his second film, and centers on "an ex-cop who suffers from insomnia after losing his wife. He takes a newly designed sleeping pill that puts him through a series of intense dreams that reveal a terrible truth."

Michael touts works by David Lynch and Andrei Tarkovsky as inpsiration.

Watch Traum in its entirety below:

TRAUM_SCREENER 2011 from Michael Fequiere on Vimeo.

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  • CareyCarey | December 7, 2011 11:56 AMReply

    WOW! But wait, I am not talking about the short (I'll get back to that) I'm talking about the exchange between Lil Nut and my man U of I Alum. Lawdy lawdy, they were cutting long, and deep and low. But don't tell nobody... I'm gonna steal some of their lines :-). Are you kidding me, that was some classic sh*t. Come to think of it, their exchange is worthy of a film short. Seriously, I mean, I can't quite figure out how to define each character but since each (Lil Nut & U of I Alum) profess to having degrees of higher learning, there is an earthy conflict of attitudes, motives and dislikes. Not to mention their distinct differences of vernaculars. Anyway, this film falls in my grove zone. Well, I was alerted to this post by an e-mail. Not because of the rejected film but I was told to check out the aforementioned exchange. So I read the comments first. I stopped viewing the short at around the 3 minute mark because I want to give it my full attention, but it seems to have all the elements I am looking for. I might come back to give a more indepth opinion.

  • Mecca | December 7, 2011 11:43 AMReply

    I enjoyed the visuals, lighting, angles etc. I applaud the filmmaker for his work. It is not easy being an up and coming director and showcasing your work to the public. To be honest I thought he could of developed the story a little bit more it lacked something for me. But other than that, I will support this director and future filmmakers posted on Shadow and Act.

  • James | December 7, 2011 12:32 AMReply

    That's what I'm talking about!! very nicely done.. completely held me from beginning to end.. my first thoughts about his trauma was that he had been a bad cop.. I thought he might have gone political and showed the role that cops play in crime and drugs in the city.. but once he showed the guy who was also missing, I knew what it was.. still.. I love the way it was done.. this is real visual story telling.. that ending is great.

  • John Pickett | December 6, 2011 4:43 PMReply

    The film is okay, but a bit predictable and not based in reality. What I mean by that is, if a person disappears, especially a wife or husband, the first person in line for questioning is typically the loved one. This person is a cop so he would know that. I wasn't too impressed with the acting overall. The voice over is okay, but the fact that the VO and the actor's voices are different is a little distracting. The dream sequence is not bad, but confusing, as I guess dreams are wont to be. I liked that the VO was using the oath of the NYPD? as it's script. Very interesting. I can see why this film wasn't chosen. Tighten up the story. Too many loose ends.

  • mlm | December 6, 2011 11:09 AMReply

    should the comment section be reserved for praise? i welcome all comments on my pieces. I actually love to see a comment on here that isn't just saying it is great. seems like folks are just being nice that way. as long as you give good feedback when you don't like it carry-on.

  • Nicci7up | December 6, 2011 1:06 AMReply

    Not bad... but I can see why it wasn't chosen; it didn't quite land. Perhaps would have been better with a bit more content and less 'black out' shots (felt a little film school-ish). Did like how I have no idea if the voice was his conscious or subconscious-either he had nothing to do w/ his wifes disappearance or he had everything to do with it.

  • Quentin | December 5, 2011 11:34 PMReply

    I'm gonna say two things about Sundance and most of the top tier film festivals (not including Telluride and Toronto).

    1.) Luke Matheny's Oscar winning short "God of Love" got rejected by almost all of them. ( Nine words: Academy Award for Best Live Action Short of 2010.

    2.) Film festivals like Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, etc. are totally out of touch with what Hollywood as a whole revere. We're not talking about the greedy, all about the green Hollywood. We're talking about sound execs and craftsmen in the industry with film tastes that they don't take to the office. This taste is hungry for good stories with universal appeal and are always disappointed that they don't find these type of films at the aforementioned film festivals. They're bombarded with that artsy fartsy, lazy, mumblecore crap that most people don't want to see, that includes themselves (Hollywood). Some slip through the cracks and each one of these films have the very ingredients Hollywood is hungry for. Films like Pariah, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Winter's Bone, The Kids Are All Right, The Visitor, and Little Miss Sunshine have it. That is on average, 3 films out of the over 100 something films screened at Sundance each year. The rest don't have it sadly, although I think 2012's LUV has it. Luke Matheny said it best in this video, that his film is something that "moms and grandmoms like" and that these types make up the Academy. In other words, "give us more of the same but different." Give us something that a caveman would understand and appreciate. I don't want to see films where nothing happens. That minimalist BS isn't storytelling, it's a nonevent. Bor-ring!!! That is what seems to dominate these so-called top tier film festivals. This is why I dread going. The parties at Sundance though and the vacation rentals, PLEASE BELIEVE ME -- the only reason why I don't put up a fuss about going. :) Like what was said by a guy in this video ( who is chilling on Main saying, "Movies? Not so much..." I digressed but it still helps to make my point.

  • Quentin | December 7, 2011 12:58 PM

    I'm glad you got that off your chest @ BORED (Black Obnoxious Retard at the End of the Day). Now, can you crawl back into your hole and rot away. Thank you.

  • Bored | December 7, 2011 1:36 AM

    Who cares? How many times u gonna drop that you go to Sundance. how many times you have to come on these boards blowing hot air about nothing, but always negative. Negroes like you man, are the worst. Had to write something cause YIU are just boring and annoying as hell.

  • mlm | December 5, 2011 9:45 PMReply

    had to watch it about 4 times. i have a lot of distractions and you had to pay attention to get this. was well-shot.

  • U OF I ALUM | December 5, 2011 3:54 PMReply

    Wow! Simply Brilliant! What A Tour de Force! The writing, acting, plot, cinematography -- Bravo! Amazing! (Hope no one figures out that I too am simply posing, pretending to have enjoyed or understood this senseless, nonsensical piece of proof that occasionally Sundance gets its rejections right!)

  • Quentin | December 7, 2011 1:25 PM

    @LIL NUT... 2 BA's and a Master? I doubt that, not with tthe way you express yourself. Nice try at fooling yourself and the masses though. And as for this gem of yours, "i bet ur films suck as much as u do u psuedo-intellectual-highbrow-film elitist," please don't confused me (dare I speak for U OF I ALUM as well) with any of these people that frequent the S&A boards regular, looking for Tambay and his entourage to tell them what is hot and what is not (completely incapable of forming an honest opinion about a film and sticking to it no matter how unpopular that opinion may be). Don't confuse me with these people who pretend to be extremely knowledgable about filmmaking as a craft. Please don't confuse me with people who want to coddle black filmmakers rather than support them with honest, constructive criticism, an embrassing reflection on the way we parent our children. Please don't. I'm not an elitist. I just know my sh** and get paid for it. Thank you.

  • Quentin | December 7, 2011 1:11 PM

    "yeah, all of u are fuckin bum ass haters. have any of u ever made a film worthy of an audiences attention or any accolade beyond your own self-copulating???" -- LIL NUT. I have, on numerous occasions, whether as a producer or co-writer, etc. Unfortunately, when I come to black threads, when I express my honest opinions about people's work, I am hit with the, "Well what ahve you done?", as if my opinion don't matter because you don't know me. Well, would it matter if I told you I was Steve McQueen or F. Gary Gray? This is the problem witth black people. We wait for people to be established before respecting them. Well, I am established (accolades and all), and I have an opinion and my opinion of this short is just as valid as that of someone who never made a film in their life. You don't have to agree. It is what it is. And I'm with U OF I ALUM, not only on the fact you used the word "condescending" wrong, not only on your colorful wish for our demise by bringing up karma (over a short film made by someone you don't know), but everything he/she said here against you.

  • U OF I ALUM | December 7, 2011 5:36 AM

    Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

    Malcolm X, 1965

  • U OF I ALUM | December 7, 2011 4:48 AM

    Uhm, actually, no, I'm not not 5'5 -- nor do I believe you have me beat on the grounds that you have a BA and 2 Masters -- two Masters? Who was your academic adviser? A wise one would've most likely instructed you to get a Doctorate instead of another Masters. And how's all that education working out for "LIL NUT A/K/A THE MOST IGNANT NIGGA"? Judging from your "ignant" posts, quite well, I'd imagine. I knew you sounded like an Ivy Leaguer. Who knew the self-proclaimed "Most Ignant Nigga" loved fine literature.

    In closing, as you go back and check your sources, I'm going to adhere to my belief that I've instead got you beat: even before I earned my degrees (albeit one less than yours), I knew, (through good parenting, etc.) I wasn't a nigga!

  • lil nut | December 7, 2011 3:36 AM

    ok, you're really a pro at putting your foot in your mouth. i bet you're short. like 5'5 maybe? hmm. you have got to be the most ignorant and pompous ass on this blog. i'm done playing. now close your mouth, d. i got you beat by the way: try a BA in literature and 2 MASTERS!!! #damn-you're-dumb!

  • U OF I ALUM | December 6, 2011 11:05 PM

    LIL NUT: Did you refer to me as a "dweeb"? Surely, you don't use that term on the regular, do you? I'd at least given you more credit than that! And why select the worst part of that movie scene, disregarding Laurence's (I stand corrected) riveting and relevant retort ("You're not N*ggahs!"--? And why use the negative term to describe yourself? Clearly you have no schooling and are the product of a dysfunction, single-parent home where your perpetually-sexually used and most likely physically abused, like-minded, similarly mis-educated and semi-literate mother -- who no doubt had you at 15 -- most likely refers to herself with demeaning affection as an "ignant b*itch" -- (and not to say she's not on to something!); therefore, I was offended by someone of your caliber attempting to correct me. As a result, I was going to make corrections to your posts. However, the task was simply too daunting for even me, with my BA in English and Masters in Education; there were simply too many errors, grammatically, logically and otherwise, to waste time attempting to correct. But hey, in closing out for good, I will leave you with another movie quote, this one even more close to home (and please, don't embrace it as a compliment; it's meant to be an insult (you know you're sad and sorry when someone has to notify you that they're insulting you so that the negative remark doesn't elude you) -- it's from "Menace to Society" -- the Korean store owner says it to Larenz Tate's character O'Dog: "I feel sorry for your mother."

  • lil nut a/k/a the most ignant nigga | December 6, 2011 9:51 PM

    "you a nigga! just like us" is the quote, u dweeb. lol. and it's laurence not lawrence. be careful now. never know who you're talking at. #stealth

  • U OF I ALUM | December 6, 2011 9:00 PM

    LIL NUT, oh, I see, you are kinda crazy -- I mean, the "ignant" part was obvious from the start -- but this latest threatening rant makes clear that you are also battling some profound psychological challenges. Please, go back and read my original post; you'll, hopefully, understand how it doesn't warrant such stress on your part -- and, too, in all seriousness, I will try to be more constructive and less sarcastic with my critiques in the future (that doesn't mean I'll jump on the bandwagon of blanket praise to any filmmaker of color who is merely making a mediocre effort to be creative (such as Michael Fequiere with the project for which you've become so riled up). I will continue to call 'em as I see 'em, good or bad, but will do so more constructively in days to come, as stated. Additionally, I'm not your "nig" or anyone else's -- and in the spirit of Lawrence Fishburne's character in Spike's "School Daze (the scene in which he and his crew confronts the backward locals on the KFC parking lot -- remember? oh, never mind -- I probably should've referenced a Tyler Perry movie!)," please be reminded that you're not one either. (Oh, and regarding your ridiculous "i can find out who you is" comment, please be not confused: despite my "psuedo-intellectual-highbrow-film elitist"-ism, I will not hesitate to stoop to f*cking a self-admitted "ignant" person -- regardless of the sharpness of the empty internet threats made -- and regardless of the presence of obvious psychological challenges -- up!) :-')

  • lil nut | December 6, 2011 7:32 PM

    i bet ur films suck as much as u do u psuedo-intellectual-highbrow-film elitist. lol. i bet u got bullied as a kid and now are playing payback with this technology. lol. i bet ur films suck butt. lol. you sound like an S&A reject, you bottom feeder. lol. i'mma find out your IP address and hunt you down you spineless coward. lol. real talk; whenever you push work into the world it's serious. let's try and support anyone daring enough to put pen-to-pad and action-to-vision. to viciously critique someone else's effort aint shit. this film has some obvious challenges, yes. yet, i'm sure someone was kind to you in your filmmaking aspirations at some point. you owe paying it forward. think not? support black film and filmmakers! and as a warning to any haters cruising S&A with a random axe to grind on any unsuspecting filmmaker who may be looking for a little support, i'm cutting ya ass and may curse ya mother! i'm kinda ignant like that. lookout for me! back to you, u, you alright with me. i'mma raise up off you this time. just know that i got friends in high places. i can find out who you is. in fact, i may already know, my nig. i'm done. ;-) #behappy

  • U OF I ALUM | December 6, 2011 3:51 PM

    LIL NUT, I'm sure karma's gonna leave you completely unscathed, right? If you call what you do -- attempting to insult dissenters of a bad short film --heckling, you've obviously never been to a black comedy club. Your profanity-laced ("vagina-bastards," "fuckin bum ass haters") attempts at insults were more confusing and laughable than offensive. And do you even know what the word condescending means; because, in this context, you didn't use it correctly; perhaps you meant pretentious -- it's more fitting. You say, "go make a movie" -- but I told you I'd made several: 1 feature and a few shorts. And in closing, because your replies were far more "vitriolic" and "mean-spirited" than my original remarks, I would indeed be reluctant to encounter someone like you face-to-face -- you come off as kinda crazy, my friend. It ain't that serious. You must've been rejected a lot in life. Oh, Lil Nut, you poor little thing -- you'll be okay, I hope (now that's condescending).

  • lil nut | December 6, 2011 11:30 AM

    karma's gonna eat your raggity ass alive. and no, i'm not the director or star. don't even know the director. i just like heckling condescending-mean spirited-vagina-bastards like you that would never have the heart to come with such vitriolic bullshit to a person's face. go make a movie! and pray that the public deals with you more constructively than you have this emerging filmmaker just as worthy of our support as anyone else. #bum!

  • U OF I ALUM | December 6, 2011 6:07 AM

    @LIL NUT -- yeah, all of us are indeed f*ckin' bum ass haters -- haters of bad and mediocre short films. And yes, to answer your question: I've made a film (1 feature and a few shorts, actually) that were worthy of an audience's attention (whatever that means) and accolades beyond my own self copulating (???) And regarding your suggestion that we find a better way to volunteer our opinions: no, I think I'll continue to volunteer it by praising the quality, well-made films on S & A, and critiquing the ones, such as "Traum" (great title, by the way) that Sundance, and inevitably, other film festivals will -- just as we did -- deem unworthy "of an audience's attention or any accolades." (Sorry, I can't help it if "Traum" sucked. Are you the director, the star or a relative? No, I guess you're just appropriately called LIL NUT, huh?)

  • lil nut | December 6, 2011 2:16 AM

    yeah, all of u are fuckin bum ass haters. have any of u ever made a film worthy of an audiences attention or any accolade beyond your own self-copulating??? find a better way to volunteer your opinions.

  • mlm | December 6, 2011 12:47 AM

    I was thinking to myself I must be a hater cause so few of these seem great. I did think the same thing I can see why it didn't get picked. Not because it was garbage but some quality issues and it wasn't moving. The voiceover could have been left out. Certainly not a fail though.

  • Quentin | December 5, 2011 11:46 PM

    LMAO!!! I thought the same thing. Sundance got right it. As I watched it, I thought, "I see why this didn't get in and I thought I was the only one." Not to mention the terribly distracting sound.

  • Tamara | December 5, 2011 3:47 PMReply

    Pensive. Quiet. Tension.

    I like it. I can see the influence. I like the premise also, of the drug that plays on memory and a deeper consciousness. I like how it plays with an ambiguous timeline. What's past, what's present, what's future? What's real, what's dreams? I am left wondering, what next? The short ends, but it doesn't really 'end', does it? Thanks for sharing these. I look forward to viewing more and being even more inspired. :-)

  • Fab | December 5, 2011 12:52 PMReply

    This guy Michael is BRILLIANT! I particularly enjoyed the cafe scene, and the ending shot, great film. Keep them coming.

  • Terence Nance | December 5, 2011 12:09 PMReply

    I love it when a filmmaker has a voice. It's also how weird that it felt refreshing that it was shot on Film. Can't wait to see what this guy does next.

  • UncreditedRewrite | December 5, 2011 12:05 PMReply

    Great film! I can see the Lynchian influence in tone also a hint of Aronofsky's early work too. Michael Fequiere is one to watch.

  • Ray | December 5, 2011 11:25 AMReply

    i can dig it

  • tony clomax | December 5, 2011 11:14 AMReply

    well done

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