Welcome to the Larry411.com Guest Columnists! April 27, 2013
In my travels to the best film festivals in…
by Alex White
Oftentimes the most difficult films to think, talk, and write about are the ones that affect us so personally that they open up old wounds. Wounds that you thought were closed or wounds with scars that you never ever wanted to be ripped open. These films cause us to look at ourselves in a new light and invoke certain memories that we struggle to once again hide in the back of our conscience.
One of those films is Felt. The film, which had its World Premiere at Fantastic Fest, is a startling semi-autobiographical story of a young woman named Amy (Amy Everson) who struggles to deal with significant emotional trauma from her childhood. As director Jason Banker (Toad Road) noted after the film, Felt serves as an example of an “extreme case” of what could happen to someone who experiences severe trauma and what that trauma does to the psyche of the victim and those who surround them.
Banker’s haunting second narrative feature finds a way to perfectly illustrate the distorted world victims of trauma live in for the years after whatever ordeal they suffer through. In Amy’s case, this trauma is of the sexual variety and sets off what would be perceived as an odd fascination with both male and female genitalia to those who may not have experienced any sort of significant sexual or childhood trauma in their lives. Amy also wears several homemade costumes (made by Everson herself) in the film to help her create several alter egos to hide her true self from the world or the world from her. To Amy, her fascinations seem justified and perfectly normal. To the commoner, she seems insane or weird at the very least.
Everson, a full-time artist, won the Best Actress award in the Fantastic Fest Dell Next Wave category for her performance and the award couldn’t have been more deserved. For example, when we first see Amy’s bedroom in the film, it’s covered in homemade sexual paraphernalia including countless felt penises (which Amy also makes herself in real life along with her partner Michael). Despite that bizarreness, the scene that develops in the aforementioned bedroom burns on the screen thanks to Everson’s performance as she conveys the incredible sense of the pain someone like herself and others like her feel every day when dealing with their trauma.
That overwhelming sense of pain is what makes Felt resonate within somebody who deals with the struggles of experiencing any sort of childhood trauma like Amy did in the film. Throughout the film, Amy struggles with any sort of relationship whether the relationship is platonic like with her friends Alanna (Alanna Reynolds), an ambiguous relationship like with Roxanne (Roxanne Lauren Knouse), or a romantic one like with Kenny (Kentucker Audley). Basic social functions and norms are not easily attainable. This is quite evident with Amy and something I can identify with completely.
The depiction of these relationship and social struggles allowed Felt to find a place in my heart forever. I have long dealt with a childhood full of bullying, adolescent relationship failures of the most disastrous kind and even some cases of severe bullying that caused some deep emotional trauma that I haven’t told even my own parents about. Not until I saw Felt during Fantastic Fest did I feel that someone else was out there that I could really relate to and identify even the darkest pain I’ve felt with. When you see the film, you'll realize that real life Amy has obviously not gone to the absolute extremes that the film version of Amy ultimately goes to when dealing with her pain. Despite that, I was able truly connect and empathize with a character on an intimate level for the first time in years. I felt I was seeing a bit of myself on the screen. I wasn’t alone.
Jason Banker’s Felt is simply a deeply moving emotional tour-de-force and one of the most fantastically intense films you will see all year. In fact, Felt is not only my favorite film of Fantastic Fest 2014 but my favorite film I’ve seen this year. The film takes risks and is not afraid to go where it needs and wants to go. Rape, sexual trauma, and bullying all have consequences and those consequences do not and will not go away. Ever.
Felt is raw, honest and beautiful. Perhaps most importantly, Felt is unabashedly real.
As of publication of this piece, Felt is without distribution. Let’s get some distribution for this film already. If any film out of Fantastic Fest 2014 deserves to be seen by the masses, Felt is that film.
The official teaser trailer is below, along with a poster and still.
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In my travels to the best film festivals in…