Friday, November 13, 2020

San Antonio Film Festival unveils Zeus Kontoyannis' clever, creepy short, MR. SAM

I don't usually cover film festivals (there are simply way too many of these, with many of them simply unnecessary, to boot) but one of the short films currently being screened at the San Antonio Film Festival (running now through November 15, and again from December 9-13) sounded worth catching, and at only 28 minutes in length, not a deal-breaker should it have sucked. It doesn't, and in fact it's rather good.

MR. SAM, written and directed by Zeus Kontoyannis, turns out to be a bit less of a typical GLBT movie and much more of a necrophiliac's dream film -- a mix and mingle of Kissed, Bernie, and Six Feet Under, with a little Autopsy of Jane Doe tossed in for good measure -- but possessing a viewpoint and outcome all its own. 

Mr. Kontoyannis (shown at right) introduces us to an unusual mortician (played very well in a subdued fashion that still manages to register charisma, sadness and a bit of menace by Christropher Piccione, shown below), his mom, dad, therapist and family friends, a mother and her young daughter whom he is tutoring in math.

The filmmaker's visual style is beautifully composed and shot (the cinematographer is Joshua Echevarria), while the writing, directing and performances are, across the board, very nicely handled. 

Our titular hero, if you can use that description, lives in a near-complete fantasy world, and the most interesting thing about the film may be that he appears to be making this world work surprisingly well. (Money clearly helps matters, as usual.)

To its credit, Mr/ Sam -- neither the character nor the movie itself -- goes quite where you will expect. It is mostly quiet, graceful and relatively subtle, considering the genres its melds: mystery, horror, psychological thriller and character study. At a near-half-hour in length, it is perfectly satisfying, but it might be, too, were it expanded into full-length. Box-office-wise, that would mean concentrating on those first three genres. But content- and success-wise, it's the last of those genres that will end up counting most heavily, TrustMovies should think. 

You can find more information on the San Antonio Film Festival here, and on the movie itself and how to view it here

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