By Ted Hope | Hope for Film August 12, 2011 at 3:00AM
Truly Free Indie Film lovers get a rare treat this weekend; that is IF they are in NYC. I got to screen MIke Ott's LITTLE ROCK for my HopeForFilm series at Goldcrest earlier this year, and am pleased to see that it opens today at Cinema Village. Mike will be there in person on Friday and Saturday. Don't let his modesty mislead you: this kind of thing is not easy to achieve -- as natural as he makes it look.
When we screened it at Goldcrest, I wrote the following:
I have something I would like you to consider: How do films defy expectations? They have to create such expectations first, right? And then still surprise you but also ideally make everything feel inevitable and part of the underlying concept. It is no easy task and so few films are able to do it these days. But we have one for you that does.
Mike Ott's LITTLE ROCK was all of that -- right up and through its end. I suspected things to come that didn't and was given consistent pleasures that I didn't even know were on the menu. Road trips seem to have become uncommon ground for indie films for some reason, but Ott's trip was all about taking me to somewhere unknown and doing it in a very quiet way. We are brought into the world, almost becoming one of the characters in the process, so personable is the filmmaking approach.
Winner of the Gotham Award for Best Film NOT Coming To A Theater Near You and the John Cassavettes Indie Spirit Award, the film has has had no shortage of acclaim. Ott's tale follows a brother and sister from Japan to Little Rock; we are never quite sure where they are heading or what they are looking for, but getting lost has always been part of the journey--and maybe all of the plan. Perhaps it's improv'd, perhaps scripted, it all seems real with a deep connection to place. Cast with locals, unfamiliar faces, and non-professionals, Ott's actors, like all other aspects of the film, feel entirely authentic, forever beckoning you into their circle.
It may not seem like a lot goes on in Little Rock, but Ott and his characters walked away with some part me, leaving me glad for the giving and happy for having been able to dwell there for each and every minute.
Please see it this weekend. These are rare films. We must vote for the culture we want with our dollars.