Film and TV

No Festival Required Brings "The Best Of The Rural Route Film Festival" To Town

A NYC-based film festival created in 2003, the Rural Route Film Festival is an annual showcase for indie films that deal with rural folks and places.

Their definition of "rural" runs the gamut from the Wild West and Canada to Siberia and the harsh deserts of Argentina. In 2008, the organizers of Rural Route put together a collection of some of the best shorts that played during the first five years of their show, and on Friday August 13th No Festival Required will be bringing their best-of-collection to Metro Arts.

Our advance-screening review of the 110 minute show and and a trailer are after the jump ...


Before the Rural Route show began, NFR started things off with a brief video thanking Stinkweeds for sponsoring the event. And their way of thanking the record shop was by playing an old song from the 1930s that was exhorting folks to buy local and not in chain stores. A song about the evils of chain store commerce ... recorded in the 1930s!

"The Best Of The Rural Route Film Festival" has a selection of 13 films from 2003 to 2008 that have played at the festival. It's a pretty diverse set of films, ranging from comedic shorts to documentaries to narrative films and experimental shorts. Some of the experimental pieces, like the 10 minute long "High Plains Winter" can drag a little bit but are redeemed by some really lovely imagery. But almost all the films are worth seeing. Each takes an interesting spin and interpretation on the festival's "rural" theme.

The documentaries in particular are the most poignant parts of the festival, since they take subjects that are often reduced to cliché in our culture and give them depth and complexity. A case in point is Mary Robertson's documentary "The Bear Hunter", which follows devoted Pennsylvanian hunter Bob Chase and his lifelong quest to hunt a bear, a film which takes a very surprising turn when we see Chase's unexpected reaction after he finally kills a bear. There's also more light-hearted documentaries about lawnmower racing in Saskatchewan and a town in Iowa that choreographs dances performed by tractors, as well as the closing film of the show, "Dental Farmer," which focuses on a man who opened a farmhouse dental clinic to serve his rural community.

Other highlights of the show include "Mimes Of The Prairie," a mock-Ken Burns style documentary about the tense relationship between settlers, Native Americans, and mimes in the pioneer years. The festival has a music video entry -- Alan Webber's take on the Silver Jews' "I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You," which features the best use of a toy cowboy since "Toy Story." Also featured were films about farmers fending off alien invasions in-between chopping firewood, a man road-tripping with his invisible friend, and an Appalachian man coping with a prescription drug addiction.

As quality goes, "The Best Of The Rural Route Film Festival" is a very well programmed set of films. Even though some of the films aren't as strong as the others and drag on a bit, they're sandwiched inbetween such strong work that their presence is forgivable. Lovers of good cinema, you should go see this while you can. "Scott Pilgrim" and "The Expendables" can wait a day or two.

"The Best Of The Rural Route Film Festival" will be playing Friday, August 13th at the Metro Arts Theatre inside Metro Arts High School (1700 N. 7th Avenue). Show starts at 7:15, tickets are $7.