FELT

FELT


I’ve been compiling the responses to my partner’s work in FELT, which is currently running the festival circuit.

None of these words belong to me; I’m gathering these reviews, interviews, and announcements in one place to chronicle the critical reception to FELT in real-time. To see Amy’s voice and experiences acknowledged through these pieces has been incredibly moving. I also have a page with all of the Twitter reactions to FELT.

FANTASTIC FEST 2014

BRIEF SUMMARY

A young artist loses herself in an unpredictable alter ego while attempting to cope with past trauma in this gripping sophomore effort from the creator of TOAD ROAD.

FULL DESCRIPTION

Amy is coming unglued. A young woman working a nothing job to finance her artistic endeavors, she has been plagued by nightmares for god knows how long; vivid and horrible things that plunge her into past trauma. Her only outlet is the increasingly outrageous artistic project and alter egos that may very well isolate Amy from her few remaining friends, but at least they also provide some distance from the pain. Then Amy meets Kenny, who’s kind and gentle and understanding, and for a moment, it appears as though life could get better.

A gifted cinematographer who has shot for Jonathan Caouette and Adrian Grenier, Jason Banker burst onto the director scene in 2012 with his debut feature TOAD ROAD. It was immediately obvious that Banker was a unique voice. Heavily employing documentary and improvisational techniques, Banker’s work defies easy categorization on many levels, resisting easy genre and style labels. In another time, he may have been tempted to sign on with the Dogme 95 crew by Banker’s work is more cinematic than Von Trier’s protest movement, with which it shares an emphasis on capturing the truth and essence of the characters and story.

With FELT, Banker proves that TOAD ROAD was no fluke. Banker maintains his fluid balance between intensely uncomfortable intimacy and cinematic flourish, drawing startlingly raw and vulnerable performances from Amy Everson—with whom he developed the story—and Kentucker Audley. We’re witnessing the emergence of a major talent here, and while it’s hard to say where his road will lead him, it’s going to be a fascinating journey.(Todd Brown)

GUESTS IN ATTENDANCE

Jason Banker (Co-Writer/Director), Amy Everson (Actress), Kentucker Audley (Actor), Roxanne Knouse (Actor)

Ain’t It Cool News / Harry Knowles

Harry @ Day 3 FANTASTIC FEST 2014: Some MONDOCON, FELT, EVERLY, SPRING & LOCAL GOD!

Now, yesterday this pair of really  snappily dressed folks approached me – and we took a photo – as we parted they gave me a business card for IFeltYourPenis.Com (FYI that link is very very NSFW btw) This girl Amy that I was meeting makes custom Felt Penises based upon YOUR Penis – and I have to admit, I then assumed this movie would be a documentary about her PENIS Felting empire – and…  ya know, I thought that was kinda fucking amazing.  We live in a world where you can have your penis reproduced in felt form.

That said… that wasn’t at all what the movie was.  First – it isn’t a documentary, it is an amazing narrative film where Amy Everson (the penis felter) acts for her first time in a movie by Jason Banker.  He directed the film TOAD ROAD, which was pretty damn good.  The film was being introduced by Todd Brown, which is always a great sign.  He was declaring this film one of the great surprises for him this year.  He absolutely wasn’t tracking the film.   This was a shoestring production, but don’t let that fool you – this is one of the very best and most involving films I’ve seen this year.

First off, the very shy seeming Amy Everson creates a stunning portrait of a woman at odds with the life she’s living.  Something tragic has occurred to her, but we don’t know exactly what that was.   She’s got girlfriends that worry about her, but really… she’s in her own head space.   She’s an artist, working out the weight on her soul by making costumes and other objects… yes, like a felt penis, but there’s more things of felt than penises here.  There’s a classic little scene where she’s taken Kentucker Audley to her place for the first time and is showing him her life.  She’s painted the ceiling sky blue, so it’s always a beautiful sky in her room.   One of the first creations she showed off was… so fricken funny!

What makes this film so impactful is watching Amy Everson’s character seemingly bloom while courting Kentucker’s character!  Now – this is a FANTASTIC FEST film.  Shit is going to hit a fan at some point.  The film was emotionally involved, had a wonderful sense of humor and tragedy.   I believed this romantic suspense flick.  The characters had souls you could feel from the movie.  This is a woman dealing with trauma in an artistic manner and you just feel incredibly protective of her over the course of the movie.

There’s really two incredibly important things to take from this film.   First, Jason Banker employed some Altman-esque Improv and Documentary coverage, which completely enthralled me.   Jason Banker is absolutely a major talent.   I haven’t seen a film this beautifully tragic since MAY by Lucky McKee.   They’re very different films, but about how the isolated so desperately want to believe in love, they yearn for it, but it so rarely comes to be.

The other is Amy Everson.  She’s definitely got a quirky streak, but oh my god you’ll love her in this movie.  Not just that, but I have been haunted & delighted by her performance for the rest of the day.  My feelings about both of the films I saw after this… well, you see a film that bares a soul like this, you really want everyone else to get their shit together and tell HUMAN STORIES with this blessed medium instead of…  well, I’ll get there.   I’d love to see Amy Everson to start showing up in Indies and possibly bigger films.   She’s for real!

TwitchFilm / Ben Umstead

Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: FELT, Healing Through Art Gets Extremely Human

There comes a moment early in Toad Road director Jason Banker’s Felt which beautifully sets the tone for what is to unfold over the next 70 or so minutes of his second narrative feature: After partying with a few young men in their hotel room, best pals Amy (Amy Everson) and Allana (Allana Reynolds) retreat to the hallway as Amy’s unclear on why she even came. She’s sick. She can’t sleep. Her dreams and reality are one and the same. As she says it: she is a ghost. She’s tried everything. Nothing helps. The two young women hold each other, laughing over the ways in which they could kill men, for a killing spree is perhaps the only thing Amy hasn’t tried to relieve her pain. Allana dreams of strangling a man with her thighs. Amy fantasizes about putting a needle right into the urethra of a penis. Lit by the strange warmth of a bleeding-red hall light, the friends dream together, waking. 

The moment is utterly human and humorous; an intimate moment between knowing friends, striking great clues to an inner pain that we in the audience are only just now starting to understand.

Director Banker started off in the world of documentary, notably with the Slamdance selected feature I Am Faith, which powerfully chronicled a camp for children dealing with early trauma that often outwardly manifested in violence towards others. Amy, in some ways, could be viewed as one of these children who never had the family support or the chance to heal within a community. Amy in that sense had to get creative. Literally. Dealing with the ghosts of her own rape and assault (a trauma we never know about in detail but live with all the same) Amy makes body suites with female and male genitalia, as well as felt penises. She wears the penis-equipped body suit under her clothes: in the woods, at parties, in bed… at a cemetery where she hides behind a stocking mask  she’s crudely painted with the face of what is to be assumed is her rapist. 

Through the hazy Northern California days Amy wanders, she dances, she hides, a woodland spirit shot by an arrow, now wielding that arrow with no target. Her friends set up dates for her to no avail. It is on one fortuitous night that she meets the quietly humorous, gentle-eyed Kenny (Kentucker Audley) that things change for her. Evocatively dancing in front of him in her chicken suit, Kenny baffled as to who this actually is, we know she falls in love perhaps too quickly. Only in the soft embrace of that new love do old scars and secrets go unrevealed, the couple loosing ground and losing trust quite quickly. 

Banker’s naturalistic, improv heavy approach to narrative is sure to be a decisive deal breaker for some audience members, as the film can, at times, meander to paralyzing effect. A film once feeling vibrant with vulnerability and verve, Felt can feel numbed, muted, losing ground for our empathy towards Amy, rather than emphasizing her own mood shifts. But these moments are brief, never fully derailing, merely coming with the loose, find-the-moment nature territory of the piece. As it goes Banker is too sensitive of a director to really lose us, and Amy is far to striking a persona on her own merits to not warrant our attention. What the creative pair ultimately gives us is a non-judgmental, shame free look into a story ripe with judgments and shame. There are no easy answers in Felt, though it may be easy to dismiss Amy’s eccentric, often maddening behavior. With that Banker is asking us to be careful, because by doing so we accept the notion that we live in a culture that largely dismisses rape and violence towards women. And accepting that isn’t the key. It is dismissal in all its ugliness. 

What is paramount is accepting a woman as a person, not as an object of violence and victim of violence. Feeling for the woman who dances on a log, wrapped in stockings and cloth, waving a plastic penis from her groin… Accepting her helps heal.

By this turn, Banker has found and accepted Amy Everson, in all her so-called eccentricities, to beautiful affect. While some could shrug Felt off as horror ala Miranda July (which to me sounds awesome, by the way), it’s again too open of a movie to pigeonholed. What Felt really acts as is a united front of creative forces on a conversation for a subject in our society that needs to get much, much louder. To do this, an artist allows another artist into what is by and large her creative life, and that’s very real. To watch that kind of collaboration unfold on screen often results in pure joy, which is siphoned and given to us in that great sadness of knowing and unknowing, the same which Amy dances through with her felt penises.
 
Banker as a filmmaker is in a unique position to continue this journey between fiction and reality, striking the notion that both are, by and large, one and the same through the eyes of cinema… or well he could do something completely different. Whatever that turns out to be, I await it eagerly.

 

Badass Digest / Devin Faraci

An extraordinary movie anchored by an astonishing performance by a non-actor. 

It is possible that Felt is the first film in a new offshoot of the rape/revenge genre – rape culture/revenge. It is certain that Felt is a beautiful film from one of the most exciting new directors working today, anchored by an astonishing performance by an artist without any previous acting experience.

Director Jason Banker has a unique way of making movies. In both Felt and his debut,Toad Road, Becker follows real people around with his camera, getting into their lives and then creating a story within that. The result is something so completely naturalistic it’s not clear where reality ends and fiction begins. In the case of Felt Amy Everson, an artist, plays Amy, an artist, who has been suffering PTSD following an unexplained – but certainly sexual – trauma. Amy creates art that takes her out of her identity, fashioning masks and muscle suits and giant penises she wears, seemingly to reclaim the power taken from her by her unnamed attacker.

As the film opens Amy’s friends are trying to get her back into the world, and we follow her, almost vignette style, as she tries to interact with men, and we see how each man is, in his own way, a total fucking creep or asshole. When she meets Kenny, played by always-working indie movie mainstay Kentucky Audler, it seems like she’s finally found the right guy, but then again this is a movie playing at Fantastic Fest…

Felt could be described as a slow burn, but that would be ignoring the film’s true center, which is Everson herself. She’s in just about every single frame of the movie, and if she didn’t work – if she was as irritatingly quirky as an artist who makes felt penises might be – the film would collapse. But Everson is an astonishing presence, a woman who embodies the idea that we’re stronger in the places where we are broken. Everson is equal parts charming and dark, intense and silly, and the way she fiercely shares her fragility makes her a completely engaging protagonist. Everything about Everson, from her toy-strewn room to her voice, makes you love her.

Which makes her mental decay all the more unsettling. For much of its running time Feltcould be just another 20something mumblecore relationship movie, but as the third act comes into focus Banker begins tightening the grip of suspense. We know something bad is going to happen, and that ugliness is constantly on the horizon. Banker infuses scenes with a quiet dread that becomes a thrumming fear by the end.

If I have one complaint about Felt it’s that I would have liked to see the ending go even bigger, and nastier. Maybe that’s just the jaded Fantastic Fester in me, but the climax feels too fast after the incredible build up. Still, it’s a minor complaint because Felt isn’t really about the act of violence at the end of the film, it’s about all the small, almost invisible acts of violence visited upon women every single day of their lives.

All Things Horror / Mike Snoonian

Fantstic Fest: FELT Is A Powerful Rumination On Trauma

Felt is unlike any other movie I’ve watched not only at Fantastic Fest, but anywhere else this past year. Two features into his young film career, Jason Banker (TOAD ROAD) is establishing himself as someone that can deliver very personal tales of horror of those that exists outside the margins. Felt is a movie that delivers a giant “fuck you” to rape culture, and to anyone that would tell victims of the systemic abuse of male privilege to just get over it. FELT achieves this by following performance artist Amy Everson for three months, and allowing to cameras to roll at every opportunity. From there Banker culls together his footage from her everyday life and interactions until he and Everson (credited as a co-writer) found the story they want to tell. The result is a very real, moving and often disturbing portrait of a young woman suffering from PSTD as a fallout of sexual violence. While her friends try to drag her out of her shell and back to the real world, Amy retreats into her homemade costumes. In lesser hands FELT would fall prey to having its own head too far up its ass for anyone to watch it. What makes the film so compelling is Everson’s honesty with the camera trained on her. Every guy she encounters is a complete asshole. Whether it’s her best friend’s verbally abusive boyfriend (who threatens to knock Amy out at one point because he “doesn’t care that she’s a girl.” Yay, equality!) to an OK Cupid scuzz bag that joke about putting roofies in Amy’s drink then tries to justify his joke by claiming roofies don’t exist, they’re just something women make up to excuse slutty behavior. During these confrontations we see Amy at her best. She refuses to back down and eat the heaping plate of shit men are shoveling in front of her. Whether she’s sticking her jaw defiantly in front of the man threatening to knock her on her ass or laying verbal haymakers on a rape apologist, Everson shows she is far more than a scared woman in hiding you initially make her out to be. As the film’s narrative takes a more cohesive shape in the latter stages, Amy meets one man she believes she can trust, and as the relationship unfolds we see her come out of her shell. In he film’s most poignant moment, she tells him that it isn’t just fear that forced her to retreat to her costumes (all of which are males) but also exhaustion. To be a woman is to constantly be threatened with sexual violence, or to be exploited for the whims of men. To be a woman means always having to be watchful and on guard and to have male privilege thrust in one’s face in ways both large and small every day and to have to always face that is just….damn….exhausting.

Since happily ever afters are a rarity at Fantastic Fest, things culminate in a bloody, messy fashion. It’s the lone moment of violence in the film, yet it’s a cathartic one. It’s almost a shame Felt ends when it does, as it would have been fascinating to follow the repercussions, and see if this marked a moment of retreat, or of pushing forward.

Austin Chronicle / Richard Whittaker

Fantastic Fest 2014: How It Felt

Artist Amy Everson on trauma and truth

Amy Everson is not a screen actress by first calling: But that did not stop her taking the Best Actress award in the Fantastic Fest Next wave category for her performance in Felt.

In the new film from director Jason Banker (Toad Road), Everson plays Amy, a somewhat fictionalized version of herself in her own life. Amy creates strange costumes: sometimes grotesque, sometimes caricatured, always highly imbued with subtexts and implications of sexuality and gender roles. Over time, it becomes clear that Amy’s work is tied to deep personal trauma, and the audience follows her psychological unraveling through these body-redefining creations.

Everson’s dress sense had already been getting attention before the awards ceremony. She and her boyfriend, throughout the festival, have worn matching outfits, the exact same clothing. She says, “On the first night, we were just walking from the place that we were staying. We got to the train tracks, and we stopped there, and then the car that was stopped there, the trunk opened slowly. We were like, oh my god, what is happening? It’s completely dark, nothing around, and we’re like, oh, we’re going to die. Then the driver winds down his window and goes, ‘What are you guys wearing, you guys look awesome!’ He ended up giving us a ride here.”

In the trunk?

“We never knew why the trunk opened.”

Austin Chronicle: The costumes are so part of everything that’s going on in Felt.

Jason Banker: That was the thing that first attracted me to Amy, her art and seeing these things that she made. As a filmmaker, you want very strong visuals, and have images that people will walk away [and have them] burned into their brains. The stuff that she makes is so visceral, it says so much, you don’t have to explain it. I wanted to unravel the mystery of what it means.

AC: Where did you first find her work?

JB: I was shooting something else in San Francisco, and me and a friend were hanging out at this bar, Pop Scene.

Amy Everson: I have a tendency of just randomly kidnapping people from clubs. A friend of mine and me, we would just pick up strangers and then terrorize them, and Banker just happened to be one of those people that night.

JB: She was just explaining the things that she did, and we said, ‘We need to see these costumes.’ We went to her house, and then we saw her bedroom, and I just went, you’ve got to be kidding me, this is amazing. Seeing her art, seeing her world, it took me a year and a half not being able to forget it, that I was like, we have to make a film.

AC: Any artistic process can be cathartic, especially when it’s so intimate and personal. Did making the film change how you approach your current work, or how you see your earlier work?

AE: I think the process wasn’t cathartic, per se. I was going through a lot, and the story unfolded organically because of what was going on in my life. It just happened to happen while he was with me. I think the reception has been the most cathartic and healing, in that it resonates with people. I have people, men and women, come up to me and tell me about their experiences, and tell me how they really felt moved and impacted by the film. It was nothing that I ever imagined while going through the process. I was just living my life, just with a camera there.

AC: That makes Roxanne an interesting addition, as the best friend/enabler. How did you come on board?

Roxanne Knouse: I met Jason eight years ago, and he asked me to be in Toad Road. I was going to, but then I didn’t, because at that point it was kind of going to be the same thing that happened with Amy. For separate reasons: I was pretty out of control, and at 21 years old, I couldn’t approach myself and my own demons. But when he talked to me about Amy, because he knows me pretty well, it resonated with me and my experiences, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to showcase women supporting each other. When I come to the film, it’s me going, no, go be weird, and I’m supporting you in that. The other characters in the film are like, be normal, get over it, try to rush your healing – make her fit into something that makes her feel comfortable. Not giving a care about how she’s really feeling. ‘You’re making us feel weird with your pain.’ So I wanted to showcase how someone who would understand that would react, and not shut that down, and actually make it grow.

AC: Let’s talk about your art background, because these suits are an unusual medium to work in.

AE: They originally started as just costumes for fun, and then I would wear them for fun and to freak people out, and then I would meet strangers and make them wear them. That concept intrigued Baker, and he wanted to explore that. But I think the source of why a lot of the art I make is based on genitalia and human bodies is taking control of what hurt me in my life. It’s touched upon in the film, and I think I’m building on my own experiences, and taking control of them.

AC: Was there ever a point where this was going to be a more conventional art documentary?

JB: That’s what I brought to the table, and those are my sensibilities. I like to think that it’s a unique approach to making films. Mixing it [so that] we do incorporate fiction, and we let the fantasy happen. This goes further than what reality is, and it also lets an audience bring a little bit more of themselves into the work as well.

AC: How much did the film shape the costumes, and how much did the costumes shape the film?

JB: We did a lot of workshopping where I just shot with her, and there were things that I didn’t even know were going to be in the film. I knew that I wanted to shoot in the redwoods. I love nature, and the beauty of setting people against these huge trees. That first scene where you see the suit, I said, ‘let’s go into the woods, and you’re going to wear this suit, and we’re just going to shoot some stuff.’ It was like magic. And I didn’t know that I was going to be using it in the film, but making that choice led to other choices. Later on, there’s a repetition of that, but it goes another way. To me, I’d rather work that way than with a script where I know everything that is going to happen. You get to construct something organic that doesn’t feel contrived, it doesn’t feel like you’ve seen it before. You’re just creating, and that’s Amy’s art to me. She’s just creating these very powerful things [and] maybe she doesn’t know how it will resonate.

AC: That puts a lot of emphasis on you, since he was following your lead and giving you an almost quasi-director role.

AE: Right. It was a blank slate. He said, ‘What story would you want to tell,’ and I wasn’t completely sure, but I thought about my life and how my experiences have informed my artwork, and I have basically purged everything. I think a lot of the film was Banker’s picking and choosing of what would come together as a story. I gave him a lot of material. I put on every costume, I pulled out old journal entries and read them. I pulled out a lot of ghosts and demons, and somehow through his editorial magic he was able to create a story.

Complex / Matt Barone

Felt

Director: Jason Banker Stars: Amy Everson, Kentucker Audley, Roxanne Knouse

The festival’s best female performance, by far, goes to Felt‘s Amy Everson, though there’s a catch—Everson basically plays herself, albeit with some fictionalized brutality.

I’ll stop right there in regards to the “brutality.” Essentially, writer-director Jason Banker’s (Toad RoadFelt is a fascinating examination of a social misfit, Amy (Everson), whose preoccupations with death and making penises and other knick-knack oddities out of felt (including a “Fetal Hitler” doll) leave her unable to connect to other people. That changes when she meets Kenny (Kentucker Audley), a genuinely nice guy who understands her, loves her, and gets her to open up and embrace romance.

The film is a sappy love story, though—it’s as close to a Kate Hudson movie as something Lars von Trier would make. Adding to Felt‘s intrigue is its unique backstory—Banker randomly met Everson a few years back and casually started filming her, and most of the film comes from that documentary-style coverage. Because of that, it’s an unusually authentic look at love’s darkest sides.

Felt is currently without official distribution. Hopefully that changes with the quickness.

ScreenCrush / Britt Hayes

Reel Women: The Women Were Fierce at Fantastic Fest 2014

The Fantastic Fest film festival in Austin provides us with tons of genre films every year, and as such, we’re often treated to some grim and violent narratives — narratives which can typically include violence perpetrated against women and can sometimes skew a bit on the masculine side of things. But this year’s festival was wonderfully diverse and filled with some incredibly fierce female-oriented features, ranging from smart and terrifying horror to darkly comedic and biting family dramas, and a seriously brilliant satire on gender politics.

Walking around the fest this year, the most talked about films featured strong female performances. ‘Force Majeure’ was a definite favorite, an exceedingly dark comedic drama about a family on vacation in the French Alps and what happens when the father of that family deserts them right when an avalanche almost hits. What follows is an increasingly and gloriously uncomfortable battle between an exasperated mother and a cowardly father, a contemplation on false masculinity — a more sophisticated and female-focused version of the totally batshit ‘Escape from Tomorrow,’ if you will. Lisa Loven Kongsli’s performance as the fed-up Ebba is a beautifully complex thing to behold — even something as simple as a scene in which she brushes her teeth while glaring in the mirror alongside her husband speaks silent volumes to the rattling of her mind. Ebba is intolerant and toys with her husband, testing him in subtle but hilarious ways, pushing him to step up and be the man and father he projects himself to be. The film asks many questions about selfishness and selflessness, but it also posits the notion that women are inherently more ferocious and braver than our male counterparts. Ultimately, men are just big weenies.

Other films which received a lot of praise this year were ‘The Babadook’ and ‘It Follows,’ both of which are horror films with strong female leads, and are helping to prove that the genre still has fresh perspectives and the ability to scare us senseless. I reviewed both films separately, but there’s another film that deserves some serious attention: Jason Banker’s ‘Felt,’ his low-key sophomore effort, which follows a fascinating artist and sexual assault survivor named Amy. ‘Felt’ stars real life artist Amy Everson, who created all the pieces in the film herself. Banker was inspired by Everson, her work, and her story, and collaborated with her on the film. Much of it is shot documentary-style, which allows for us to connect more intimately with Amy, which is especially crucial in the film’s more horrific moments. ‘Felt’ examines the difficult struggle of trying to reclaim your life post-trauma, as Amy tries to take agency for herself using her art in some wonderfully bizarre ways, but it’s also a great, damning exploration of rape culture and sexism, and how that culture can nebulously extend past the act of rape itself. ‘Felt’ hits on a very specific, personal, and relatable topic in ways that are so poignant. No other film has approached these precise ideas before, and that in and of itself is pretty exceptional.

For all the dark and grim stuff we see at a genre festival, a movie like ‘Jacky in the Kingdom of Women’ is a breath of fresh air. A joyous satire on gender politics starring Charlotte Gainsbourg? Yes, please. The film takes place in a fictive land where women rule as a militant faction, led by a dictator and her daughter (Gainsbourg), who is soon to be wed off before she can succeed to the highest ranking. But first she must choose her “Big Dummy” to marry, so her mother throws a ball, inviting all the eligible boys in the land to buy a ticket to attend and vie for her affections. The boys in the film wear burqa-esque garb and are treated as housewives and do all the chores, the people in the kingdom eat mush that looks like semen and comes out of their plumbing, and everyone worships horses — because what’s girlier than horses? ‘Jacky in the Kingdom of Women’ is like a gender-swapped ‘Cinderella’ set in a place that’s like North Korea meets the French countryside. It’s riotous and joyful and weird, and its gender politics are very tongue-in-cheek. This isn’t a film that’s trying to cut deep into something — it’s just gleefully making a jerk-off motion and rolling its eyes while saying, “Yeah, well, how do you like this crap?” The delightfulness of the film could probably best be embodied by a scene in which our young male protagonist is accosted by female militants in the woods, who masturbate in front of him and force him to suck on their breasts — a strange sigh of relief at a genre festival where we’re so used to seeing the roles reversed.

There were so many more great films and women at Fantastic Fest this year that it’s hard to discuss them all — ‘Darkness by Day’ was a neat but minor take on an old horror convention, one that had us empathize with characters we never would have in a worn-out narrative. The lead actresses in films like ‘Alleluia,’ ‘Spring,’ ‘Blind,’ and ‘Goodnight Mommy’ were all so vital and so lovely, and really anchored those films with amazing performances.

Each and every year Fantastic Fest delivers some surprising films, but this year more than any other year, there was a real prevalence of great women on screen — so much so that I didn’t even get around to seeing all of their work. So often with genre films we think of action, violence, and horror, and these things can typically not be kind to their female characters, but Fantastic Fest really proves that there are some great female-centric genre films being made every year.

FilmBizarro / Ronny

Plot: Amy is an artist who spends her spare time dressed in a costume so that she can feel like someone else. Her past has screwed up her view of men and now she’s attempting to get through the traumas.

Our thoughts: It’s been a year since we “Toad Road”, a previous indie hit by filmmaker Jason Banker, and nearly 10 months since we decided it was one of the best movies of last year. Obviously “Toad Road” wasn’t just luck – it was well beyond that – but would his next feature be able to reach the same heights? I decided to not get too hyped up for this one, and kept my “research” vague, to be fully invested once I finally got to see it.

Where “Toad Road” took some liberties and became a very creepy, eerie experience, “Felt” keeps us much closer to reality. The movie is about Amy, a young artist (or weirdo, if you were to ask the people around her), and her struggle with life, her body and men. She seeks solace in homemade costumes, to emotionally feel like she’s not herself anymore. Her most common costume to put on is that of a naked man. When Amy meets Kenny she finally feels as though she can trust a man and be herself around him.

“Felt” feels like it’s somewhere between a quirky indie comedy and an early Ming-liang Tsai film. There are many funny moments in the movie, but it’s not really a comedy though. It is weird and quirky though. From the opening sequence and up until the finale we’re treated to a very somber journey of an emotionally scarred woman. She dreams of putting a needle up the urethra of a penis, so it’s easy to reach the conclusion that she has a strange past involving men. But the movie goes further than just showing that she has unresolved issues with men – we see her insecurities and we see her change her “skin”. But we also see strengths in Amy, though they manifest themselves in her power to be herself.

The movie takes a while to fully introduce us to Amy, and for a while it seemed like the point was to just experience what Amy experiences. It’s when Amy meets another woman, at a photo shoot, who seems like an outsider herself that we finally get to the meat of “Felt”. It’s when we see who Amy is when she’s with someone who gets her, but it’s also when she finally gets to face her traumas. Later that same night she and her new friend meet Kenny, and the movie takes a turn into a quirky romance. Except, the good kind. One where we’re rooting for the lead because we’ve been through her miserable existence, and we want it to change. But Amy’s scars are too deep to heal, as the ending might show.

I’m positive that if you enjoyed “Toad Road” then this is a movie for you. It might be just as good, at times even better, than the wonderful “Toad Road”, and that’s huge. I think that “Toad Road” was more unique, but Jason Banker teamed up with Amy Everson have created a much more relatable and grounded, but also an even darker, movie. We become one with the lead character in a way that “Toad Road” didn’t quite succeed with.

Jason Banker’s cinematic style is to let us witness the mental state of a person. We feel it and become part of it. In “Toad Road” it was more of the existential atmosphere surrounding the characters and the events, and in “Felt” we’re becoming part of Amy and her struggle, following her into the darkness. He has managed to take full advantage of his style with “Felt”. Before it’s over, we feel as crazy and weird as Amy.

“Felt” offers a little bit of everything. It has quirky, somewhat immature comedy bits – sometimes involving farts or graphic nude costumes of gaping vaginas (or paintings of Goatse), it has the troubled young artist angle, it sways between sad and happy – back and forth, it’s visually intriguing and at the same time it keeps a naturalistic style to it. The movie’s title is highly appropriate, it’s a movie that feels. It’s has a bit of ambiguity, but I don’t think the intent was to be ambiguous in the same way that an arthouse movie often tries to – this just left out whatever Amy didn’t feel like sharing. This is not a movie for everyone, but I do think it’s a movie for the Film Bizarro crowd.

Positive things:

– Jason Banker and Amy Everson teaming up proved to be fantastic.

– Filled with excellent actors.

– Beautifully shot.

– It might not always be eventful, but it jumps between moods enough to never bore us.

– Has some weirdly funny moments.

– The nude costumes are brilliantly inappropriate.

– The ending.

Negative things:

– Could easily be pushed into the typical indie drama category, but it succeeds in ways that most don’t if you just give it the time to.

– Not really a negative thing, but a small constraint: I strongly believe this is a movie to either watch on the big screen, or all alone in a dark room.

Rating: Gore: 0.5/5 Nudity: 2/5 Story: 3.5/5 Effects: 3/5 Comedy: 2.5/5

We got this movie from: Jason Banker

It can be bought from: N/A

Cinapse / Jon Partridge

FANTASTIC FEST X: DAY 7. KUNG FU ELLIOT, DUKE OF BURGUNDY, FELT & NORWAY

Many can see a piece of art and be baffled by it, not understanding its connections or its intent. Felt shows how profoundly deep a connection an artist can have with their work as form of communication and an outlet, a way to express inner emotions such as joy and pain.Felt manifests this connection in a very tangible way and more importantly than that, it highlights an issue with society about the frequency of violence towards women and its tolerance of it.

Director Jason Banker approaches his filmmaking in a abstract way, he selects a subject and begins filming their lives and together with the subject takes it on a path informed but not led by the reality of the subject to create a story. In Felt, Amy Everson (deserved winner of the FF 2014 Best Actor award) plays Amy, an artist who is evidently the victim of sexual abuse. Through her art, she takes on new identities, making masks and body suits outfitted with male and female genitalia. Often dressing up in these guises and wandering the forest as a man, perhaps as a role-reversal to try and regain a position of strength. Her friends, aware of her history, try to push her into moving past it and her coping mechanism to move on with her life. One evening she encounters the quiet but sweet Kenny (Kentucker Audley) and begins to feel she can trust again.

Feltis one of the most profoundly affecting experiences I had at this festival. Everson is an immense presence in the film, moreso when you know she isn’t a professional actress. She starts out as a weird, damaged character but soon envelops you with her personality: quirky, odd, dark, creative, strong and yet intensely vulnerable. Banker has helped to fashion something very intimate in his collaboration with her, a journey as she copes, heals and is yet again hurt. Tonal shifts and editing issues can cause emotional beats to peter out but these are small issues in a powerful and personal piece of work. Felt offers no real answers or solutions, in fact there is a bleakness in how it seems to show the perpetuation of the cycle of abuse against women and perhaps that is the point. It is a cycle that will continue in a culture that fails to deal with what is termed “rape culture” and informs a plethora of issues towards women.

Felt is a incredible organic collaboration between a filmmaker and his subject that has spawned a very personal piece of cinema. Profoundly affecting work.

WIRED / Jordan Crucchiola

The Sad One: Felt

This one is all eerie mood. It came onto the scene at Fantastic Fest and even though this trailer doesn’t give us much to go on, we’re already shrinking back into our chairs. Our heroine Amy (Amy Everson) is an artist suffering from PTSD after some sort of past trauma. We don’t know what Amy’s been through, but given the stark emptiness and sad piano music we’re given here, safe to say it was somethingreally bad. As Amy isolates herself from friends, she pours herself into her disarming art, and meets a young man who could provide some respite from her pain. Or something terrible will happen. Either way, we want to find out.

Pause At: 0:28 to feel unsettled, and 0:34 to feel it again.

Fangoria / Samuel Zimmerman

Fantastic Fest Report: Horror is Alive, Vital and Varied

Decidedly unsupernatural is FELT, of which director Jason Banker’s empathy is integral. Banker, a doc filmmaker who made his narrative debut with the raw, hallucinatory TOAD ROAD experiments with traditional genre by focusing on a real life subject and building a fictional tale around them. With FELT, he’s turned his camera on Amy Everson, an enthralling artist and first time performer (certainly not last, she is incredible). Fascinated by Everson’s felt art, including full costumes, baby Hitlers and fake penises, Banker’s observational aesthetic chronicles her life of inner anguish following sexual assault, the ensuing trauma and the regularly hostile attitude the world has toward women. For a male filmmaker, or male audience, the latter is inherently impossible to understand, so it is vital it’s met with empathy and belief. Banker and his camera do just that by capturing candid moments that lay bare what women are met with on a daily basis. Banker is just as observational of Everson’s art, giving her the filmic space in which to don her costumes (some of which are cartoonishly muscular) and fake sexual appendages, and explore rural landscape to try and gain an agency or power she feels lacking. The most alive section of the film finds Amy spend an uncompromising evening with friend and similarly frustrated Roxanne (Roxanne Lauren Knouse). It builds and descends to more of a recognizably genre destination, but like TOAD ROAD, Banker’s horror isn’t what you think or want. FELT is indicative of a more artful rape-revenge film (though that categorization isn’t exactly fair or worthy), one that isn’t just a costumed exploitation movie. Thus, what should be its ultimate visceral act is trumped by an utterly haunting final image, one that’s again lensed with empathy.

Ceiling Cat’s Blog

Fantastic Fest 2014 Day 7

Felt got a lot of buzz from its first screening, and it was definitely on my radar anyway so after it won a festival award for Best Actress (Amy Everson, who also co-wrote the script) in the New Wave category, I made plans to see it during the second. It’s the second film from director Jason Banker (Toad Road), and it will sneak up on you. Everson plays a character named Amy (whom I’m told is playing a version of herself), an artistically inclined young woman who is haunted by her past relationships with men. She expresses herself through costumes that she creates out of felt. Then she meets a nice guy who seems to really get her, and she opens up to him and lets him into her world. But he’s not the person she thought he was. I summarized this movie in a tweet: a low-key portrait of feminist angst, until the final scene. You won’t be disappointed when that scene comes. (8/10)

larry411 / Alex White

Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: “Felt” Digs Deep Into the Darkest Depths of the Soul

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.

TwitchFilm / Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg

Fantastic Fest 2014 Wrap: Over 70 Movies Reviewed + Our Top Picks!

Force Majeure It’s not exactly a genre film, but it blew me away with amazing storytelling, great acting, beautiful cinematography and its dark, comic look at masculinity and family. Runner-up: Felt Part autobiography, part fiction, this is a strange and beautiful film that made me cry more than I have a film in a long time. Its sophisticated and raw look at reaction to trauma is astonishing. 

larry411 / Alex White

Alex White’s Top 10 Films Of Fantastic Fest 2014

A week has passed since Fantastic Fest 2014 officially came to a close and I already miss all the films, the fun, and the sleep deprivation.

The festival featured a stunning lineup of 80 different features both new and old including 22 World Premieres which helped create one of the strongest film programs in their 10 year history.

With nearly 50 movies under my belt thanks to eight days of the festival and a week of screener watching, I present to you my best attempt at the 10 best new features of Fantastic Fest 2014. Of those films I watched, only three received poor ratings from me after their screenings. In my four years of covering this festival, that’s the lowest number I’ve rated poorly. This year’s event was simply exceptional.

If you couldn’t attend Fantastic Fest this year, I hope many of you have to opportunity to see some of these films in the near future whether it’s in your local theater or on your preferred VOD service. All of these titles are of the utmost quality and deserve the largest audience possible. The ones listed below are the best of the best.

Here are my Top 10 Films of Fantastic Fest 2014:

  1. Felt – This intense and stunning movie from director Jason Banker and lead actress Amy Everson tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young woman dealing with severe childhood sexual trauma. Felt left me so completely shattered that I could not get myself to write about another film before I could gather my thoughts on this one.

The 13th Floor / Steve Austin

Fantastic Fest 2014 – The Best of the Fest

FELT – A young woman confronts overbearing patriarchy by designing and taking on several alter egos in tandem with tackling some dark issues from her personal life. This is Writer/Director Jason Banker’s second film (the first, TOAD ROAD, is criminally under-seen in New Zealand) and he has cemented himself as an independant talent to watch, with a voice that is always clear and focussed on opening up the truth within characters, I went into this one knowing virtually nothing about what I was viewing and was rewarded ten-fold with an incredible little movie with huge heart, an even greater sense of ferocity and a disquieting, unique visual style. I did not find out until afterward that this film – involving felted realistic looking phalluses, a foetal Hitler and a non-linear sense of story-telling – was derived from the lead actresses own experiences and art. Genuine, beautifully crafted and quite unsettling.

The Film Stage / Bill Graham

Felt – Fantastic Fest 2014 Review

Being challenged and shocked by a film can be both a blessing and a curse. Inevitably it will alienate many, but those that show up to the genre film festival known as Fantastic Fest are game. Mixing slow-building dread and mental health issues, Felt arrives as a needle prick of chaos. This is the kind of film that many will receive the main actress with open arms for giving things like a “brave” performance and more, but will shirk off the film as a whole as a bit too downtrodden to have much commercial or critical appeal. However, any time a film revolves around a creative person’s dealing with trauma, likely sexual in nature in Felt, and the ramifications it can have, you get a sense of who is in for a film that isn’t exactly a pleasure to watch but might offer insight or perspective in a way other directors shy away from.

Director Jason Banker has a tendency to capture events in interesting ways. In this film he uses first-time actress Amy Everson as Amy, a woman who is coping with an unexplained trauma that tends to haunt her dreams and creates an odd tension with her friends. She’s outspoken, honest, but also fiercely loyal and intelligent. She creates alter egos and is a bit of a crafter, creating costumes of various kinds that explore the male perspective in many ways. She creates pants with a fake felt penis that she trounces around the nearby forest with, putting it in places it doesn’t belong. Additionally, Amy fashions muscle suits and seems to be focusing on the male dynamic. Her obsession with escaping through these means starts to alienate her from her closest friends but it also begins to create new and interesting friendships with people who see her as a kindred spirit.

As her friends attempt to drag her out of her morose and languid behavior, Amy goes on a few dates and we learn that without adequate buffering, normal occurrences in in adult relationships often come too fast, too soon. To call most of her male suitors assholes is easy, but why they were ever presented is troublesome as well. If we can’t count on our friends to have a good sense of filtering, who can we trust? But things change for the better when Amy and her friend, who have been using their sexual power in a way to reverse the dynamics, run into Kenny (Kentucker Audley). He’s sweet, charming, and isn’t afraid to let Amy breathe and have her space. He is the ideal guy in many ways, embracing her creativity and unique qualities.

But the film wouldn’t be at a festival like Fantastic Fest if they simply ride off into the sunset, and to be sure, Banker has been slowly building a sense of dread throughout. Amy’s language has become more violent in ways that aren’t rational. She is focused on the male genitalia in a way that makes one feel uncomfortable for everyone around her, even Kenny. By the shocking conclusion, we fully grasp just why a film can affect us so much. People do cruel things to each other every day. Whether this is a revenge narrative or not, the way in which Felt works is truly unsettling.

B –

Anna Hanks

If You Liked “Tiny Furniture” See “Felt”

In the week or so following Fantastic Fest, the film that’s been living in my head is “Felt.”
Directed by Jason Banker (“Toad Road“) “Felt” is the movie I can’t stop turning over in my mind. It’s held onto me the way Lena Dunham’s debut feature “Tiny Furniture” has held onto me, claiming permanent space in my brain the way that few other films have done.

That feels special to me, because this is the week that at least a certain segment of our culture seems to be obsessed with Dunham’s new memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl.”

Of course, pick any week and our country seems to be talking about the 27 year-old Dunham. Dunham discussion topics include: any episode of her HBO television show “Girls,” the $3.7 million she was paid for her memoir and Dunham’s decision to go ahead and pay the opening acts for her book tour—a tour where tickets were beingscalped for 900 bucks each in NYC.

In contrast, “Felt” is a small mumblecore-ish film featuring a women who collects and fabricates multiple depictions of genitalia. In her bedroom, these representations are collected and displayed the way that someone else might obsess over Mickey Mouse charms or china birds. She also makes and wears a homemade “naked man” suit throughout much of the film, which is sometimes replaced by a “naked woman” suit.

The film stars performance artist Amy Everson (who won the “Next Wave” Spotlight Competition best actress award at Fantastic Fest this year for her performance), who made all of the costumes, and the film was created around her experiences. It’s sort of a quasi-documentary, semi-fictionalized film. Read this fabulous interview about theprocess of making the film.
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I’ll admit that at Fantastic Fest I was motived to watch the film by the passionate insistence of my film critic friend Alex White, who wrote a moving personal testimony of what the film meant to him, along with a plea for it to find distribution.

The film explores gender, patriarchy and male privilege in a way that I wasn’t expecting.
Felt is a powerful piece of art, and it needs to be seen by more people.

We Are Movie Geeks / Michael Haffner

Fantastic Fest 2014: FELT – The Review

An uncomfortable feeling hit me almost immediately while watching Jason Banker’s new film. It was a mix of guilt and shame that lasted up until the brutal and heartbreaking ending. This guilt and shame isn’t attributed to anything I felt guilty for in particular, but more as a man living in a world where I acknowledge that there are deep rooted problems regarding gender, sex and violence, and as last year’s popular song illustrates, the “Blurred Lines” that are often trivialized by society. FELT brings to light the effects of “rape culture” in our society and how normal it has become to dismiss actions by saying “that’s just boys being boys.” Banker’s gorgeous looking film highlights some of the not so pretty situations that we as a society have become accustomed to viewing without thinking about its effects on the victim. He turns what would be shown as just a normal party sequence in most films, where a few girls are offered to enjoy in some alcoholic drinks with some enthusiastic guys, as an example of a problem that goes far beyond just male dominance and its psychological effects on women. FELT has a statement to make but not one that takes away from its thoughtful and impressive storytelling.

Amy (Amy Everson) is an artist living in California who weaves a world of dark satire through her knitted creations. When she’s not creating a woven baby Hitler or an anatomical vagina, she spends her days in an alter ego like state where she slips on a nude leotard with an attached plastic penis, draws facial hair on herself and pretends to act like a man. Her problem with meeting guys doesn’t initially fade away when she meets Kenny (Kentucker Audley). It’s only as their relationship slowly develops that we see Amy drop her guard and exist in a happier place. But how long can her personal happiness last?

Like his previous film TOAD ROAD – which I like more in theory rather than the actual experience – Banker employs a mix of documentary and story to form a film that blurs the line between reality and fiction. Apparently the film is based on Amy Everson’s real experiences. Most of the film highlights her natural life as she almost floats through this world in a dreamlike state. She clearly feels more comfortable living in her own headspace, but it is when she encounters strangers or her concerned friends that her odd and occasionally dark sense of humor comes out. She’s an unpredictable character and Banker takes full advantage of this when the film spirals into darker territory.

Amy is dealing with some deep-rooted issues that are hinted at but are never exactly spelled out. Like most people dealing with psychological and possible physical damage, Amy is presented in an imperfect light. She’s not the best at conversations and doesn’t go out of her way to impress any of the lecherous men she encounters. At the same time, you begin to feel there’s a small level of self-infliction that she puts herself through. This may seem like I’m excusing such rude and inappropriate actions at times, but there’s a moment early on when she is on a date with a guy that she clearly is not interested in but continues to go along with. The date wraps-up and he walks her home but not before she shows him one of her favorite trees. She crawls up under the low-hanging tree and sits quietly as her eager date follows. He sits next to her and attempts to kiss her but is met with a turning of her face – clearly indicating she is not interested. Time passes while the two sit there and he attempts to kiss her one more time. Again he is met with the turning of her face. She never says “no” but more importantly she never actually leaves. There are several other times where she places herself in situations that she is not comfortable in but stays as if this is some self-induced torture for her. It is as if that she is waiting to break under the pressure. Like she intentionally wants to snap.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling being a male and witnessing degrading male behavior – things that are too common in our everyday lives – but also because you feel this character that we have come to care for exist in situations that are out of her control while occasionally partially in her control. I’m not sure if the director intended for this reading or not. Given where Amy stands by the end of the film, I assume we are supposed to believe that she might just be a little crazy – which makes her long and hard journey all the more upsetting.

FELT is a compelling and deeply tragic look at an artist that refuses to turn away from the problems she sees in the world. A haunting and melodic score by the band Deaf Center sets the tone of the film perfectly. Your reaction to the film and its effect of you will ultimately depend on your willingness to accept the underlying issues that are at the heart of Banker and co-writer Amy Everson’s story. Sometimes the most obvious problems have been right in front of us the entire time. Most likely FELT won’t be readily available to the general public, but like the message of the film, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5

Paste / Tim Basham

Tripping the Fest Fantastic / A look at the best films of the 2014 festival

As a testament to actress Amy Everson’s ability, for a moment I thought I had misread the summary on Felt and was watching a documentary. Her performance as a traumatized young artist (also named Amy) is that real. Director Jason Banker adeptly pulls us into Amy’s frequent escapes from the real world by creepily dressing like a life-size version of a rape victim’s therapy puppets. Over time, she allows herself to love again when she enters into a relationship with Kenny (Kentucker Audley), a move that leads to more trauma and pushes toward a powerful, dark ending.

We Are Movie Geeks / Michael Haffner

Top 10 Tuesday: Fantastic Fest 2014

2. FELT

FELT is a compelling and deeply tragic look at an artist that refuses to turn away from the problems she sees in the world. Amy (Amy Everson) is an artist living in California who weaves a world of dark satire through her knitted creations. A haunting and melodic score by the band Deaf Center sets the tone of the film perfectly. Your reaction to the film and its effect on you will ultimately depend on your willingness to accept the underlying issues that are at the heart of director Jason Banker and co-writer Amy Everson’s story – male dominance and its psychological effects on women. Banker employs a mix of documentary and story to form a film that blurs the line between reality and fiction. FELT has a statement to make but not one that takes away from its thoughtful and impressive storytelling.

AFI FEST 2014

Amy, a San Francisco artist, is haunted by a recent trauma that was inflicted by men in her life. As she veers dangerously close to a complete emotional and psychological breakdown, she plunges into the world of her art as a coping mechanism. She re-appropriates the male form by creating an alter ego that assumes power and domination. When Amy meets Kenny, a seemingly nice, down-to-earth guy, she decides to open herself up to him, hoping he can restore her faith in mankind. Blurring the line between narrative and documentary, director and co-writer Jason Banker uses the real-life art and experiences of co-writer and actress Amy Everson to craft a feminist film, which confronts rape culture and the micro-aggressions that women face on a daily basis in male-dominated spaces. —Jenn Murphy

In attendance: Jason Banker

Jason Banker’s narrative feature debut, TOAD ROAD, premiered at the 2012 Fantasia Film Festival, where it won Best Director and Best Actor. His follow-up feature, FELT, won Best Actress at Fantastic Fest 2014.

Manganzon / Sergio Burstein

{AFI FEST 2014} Reseña de FELT

Como suele ocurrir en cada edición del AFI Fest, las películas proyectadas dentro del afamado festival hollywoodense muestran no sólo una gran variedad de orígenes territoriales, sino también tendencias muy distintas, ya que van desde lo ‘mainstream’ -aunque no extremadamente comercial- hasta lo más rabiosamente independiente, como es el caso de “Felt”, una arriesgada cinta que combina el drama psicológico, el estilo semidocumental tipo ‘mumblecore’ y el horror para darle vida a un poderoso manifiesto feminista.

“Felt” (esta noche a las 9.30 pm en el Chinese 6 y el miércoles a la 1 pm en el Chinese 5) debutó en el Fantastic Fest, lo que tiene sentido cuando se toma en cuenta que incluye elementos fácilmente insertables en el género del espanto; pero se trata en realidad de un estudio de personaje tan intenso y descarnado que provocará reacciones contrastadas en la audiencia, sobre todo porque su protagonista, Amy (Amy Everson) es una joven mujer traumatizada por un abuso sexual que nunca se llega a explicar del todo. Pese a que no ha roto su contacto con el mundo exterior y que acepta incluso algunas citas con hombres debido a la insistencia de sus amigas, es evidente que su espíritu se encuentra seriamente dañado, y que su conducta se está haciendo cada vez más extraña.

Pero lo más impactante llega cuando se muestra el modo en que Amy, una artista plástica de San Francisco, trata de lidiar con lo ocurrido, elaborando trajes escalofriantes con senos, vaginas y penes grotescos que luce normalmente mientras se pasea en el bosque, pero que traslada a veces al medio urbano con las naturales reacciones de rechazo que ello provoca. Para decirlo claramente, la chica está en camino directo al desastre, hasta que conoce a Kenny (Kentucky Audler), un tipo de aspecto inofensivo y de personalidad encantadora que podría convertirse en su tabla de salvación.

La presencia de Kenny como sujeto sensible y considerado es importante cuando se toma en cuenta que muchos de los otros varones que aparecen por aquí llegan marcados por actitudes misóginas y soberbias, en consonancia con las críticas al machismo institucionalizado y a la agresividad permanente contra las mujeres que se plantean en el filme dirigido por Jason Banker, quien debutara en el largo con un celebrado documental sobre niños abusados (y que, pese a todo, es un hombre).

Para aumentar el aspecto perturbador de todo esto, hay que tomar en cuenta que el nombre de la actriz coincide con el de su personaje, y que según las notas informativas ofrecidas por el AFI Fest en su página oficial, la misma Everson es una artista independiente sin experiencia previa en la actuación, pero cuyas vivencias personales se usaron en el desarrollo de una obra que, esta vez sí, tiene un final de terror. ¿Será que lo merecemos?

Manganzon / Sergio Burstein

{AFI FEST 2014} FELT Review

As often happens in each edition of AFI Fest , the films in the festival famed Hollywood show not only a variety of territorial origins, but also very different trends, as they range from the ‘mainstream’ but not extremely commercially until the more fiercely independent, as is the case with “Felt”, a daring film that combines psychological drama, the type semi-documentary style ‘mumblecore’ and horror to spice up a powerful feminist manifesto.

“Felt” (tonight at 9:30 pm at the Chinese 6 and Wednesday at 1 pm in the Chinese 5) debuted at Fantastic Fest, which makes sense when you take into account that includes easily insertable elements in the genre of fright; but this is really a character study so intense and gritty causing contrasted in the audience, especially since the main character, Amy (reactions Amy Everson ) is a young woman traumatized by sexual abuse that never get to fully explain . Although it did not break contact with the outside world and even accepted some dates with men at the insistence of her friends, it is evident that his spirit is seriously damaged, and that their behavior is becoming increasingly bizarre.

But more shocking is reached when the mode is displayed when Amy, a visual artist from San Francisco, trying to deal with what happened, producing chilling outfits with breasts, vaginas and grotesque penises usually looks while walking in the woods, but sometimes moved to urban areas to natural rejection reactions that it causes. To put it plainly, the girl is on a direct path to disaster, until he meets Kenny ( Kentucky Audler ), a type of harmless looking and charming personality that will be your lifeline.

The presence of Kenny as sensitive and thoughtful subject is important when one considers that many of the other men who appear here comes marked by misogynistic and arrogant attitudes, consistent with criticisms of institutionalized sexism and permanent aggression against women raised in the film directed by Jason Banker , who debuted in the long held a documentary about abused children (which, nevertheless, is a man).

To increase the disturbing aspect of all this, take note that the name of the actress matches her character, and that according to the briefing notes provided by the AFI Fest on their official website, it is an independent artist Everson no previous acting experience, but whose personal experiences were used in the development of a work, this time it has an end of terror. Is what we deserve?

RoweReviews / Eric Rowe

Felt (2014) – Jason Banker

Amy, a San Francisco artist, is deeply haunted by past trauma inflicted on her by the men in her life.  On the edge of a massive emotional breakdown, Amy becomes engrossed in the world of her art, creating a male alter-ego for herself – a dominate and powerful being, as a coping mechanism.  When Amy meets Kenny, a seemingly nice, open guy, she begins to let her guard down, opening up to him in ways she thought would never happen again.  Jason Banker’s Felt is an engrossing piece of filmmaking that uses the real-life experiences of co-writer and actress Amy Everson to create a poignant portrait of rape culture that captures the emotionally devastating effect it has on those effected.  Felt is a genuine portrait of an individual who has lost all faith in humanity, living a life of cynicism and doubt that affords her very few moments of happiness.  She is a sharp character who distances herself from everyday life, falling deeper into her art as a coping mechanism.  What Jason Banker has created with Felt is a powerful tale of feminism, with Amy eventually taking back control of her life through her alter ego.  In a male-dominated society Amy views the Penis as a symbol of strength, creating this strange alter-ego that comes with its own phallic representation of the male form.  If I had one critique of the film it would be the film’s one-sided viewpoint on gender, with basically every male character in the film being a shady human being.  While I would have liked some type of silver-lining centered around the possibility of a genuinely good male character, Felt works because it is a singular vision of Amy’s point-of-view, displaying a woman who has lost all faith in men as she attempts to live in a male-dominated world.  I won’t spoil the finale but Felt delivers an absolutely devastating conclusion, putting a definitive stamp on this emotional tale of a woman trying to seize back control of her life.

IndieWire / Rachel Bernstein

Amplify Acquires Docu-Narrative ‘Felt’ To Help Shed Light On Rape Culture

Amplify says “You’ve never seen a film like this before”

Amplify has just acquired the North American rights for Jason Banker’s character study film “Felt” in a deal organized by Nate Bolotin and Mette-Marie Katz of XYZ Films (on behalf of the filmmakers) and Dylan Marchetti (on behalf of Amplify). The film follows the real life of co-writer and protagonist Amy Everson, who received a best actress award at Fantastic Fest for her performance.

Banker explores the psyche of a young woman who attempts “to overcome both a past trauma and the subtle aggressions she experiences daily from the men in her world by immersing herself in her art. By-appropriating the male form into an unpredictable alter-ego, she may be pushing away her friends, but the power and domination she feels is the only thing that finally may allow her to heal,” according to Amplify’s synopsis.

The film blends the documentary form and fictional narrative through Banker’s stylized approach. Amplify’s Dylan Marchetti described the film as something that “defies genre in the absolute best way. It’s a baseball bat to the face of rape culture, and that’s something that’s sorely needed. It’s cliche to say ‘I’ve never seen a film like this’, but I’ve never seen a film like ‘Felt’ and neither have you.”

The co-writer and central subject of the film, Amy Everson, explained that the project “is a deeply personal film and the way it’s resonated with people highlights the importance of having serious discussion about how society treats women. I am grateful it’s being distributed by a company that understands this and wants to spread awareness with us.”

“Felt” will be released to U.S. and Canadian theaters in April 2015, with a digital/home video release to follow.

IndieWire / Ryan Lattanzio

Amplify has acquired North American rights to director Banker’s ‘Toad Road’ followup based on the disturbing real-life experiences of cowriter and star Amy Everson.

Fantastic Fest best actress winner Amy Everson plays a traumatized artist who slips into elaborate fantasies to escape her troubles with men, making mischief in the wilds of her imagination under the guise of a bluntly Freudian yet ingeniously crafted alter-ego.

“Felt” sends even a rape revenge movie like “I Spit On Your Grave” running with its tail between its legs as Amy’s psychosexual paranoia produces acts of malice not easily shaken. The film is currently stirring audiences at AFI Fest in Los Angeles and will be released by Amplify (“Kumiko the Treasure Hunter”) in April 2015, with a digital/home video release to follow.

Cinematographer turned director Jason Banker first raised eyebrows in 2012 with “Toad Road,” a psychedelic portrait of teenage burnouts whose drug-taking fuels their pursuit of some mythological version of hell in Pennsylvania.

Fangoria / Samuel Zimmerman

Amplify Takes Jason Banker’s Stunning “FELT” for Spring 2015

Challenging and revelatory, Jason Banker’s second feature FELT is set to leave you silent and stunned this spring. 

Having world premiered to great acclaim this past September at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, FELT is the next step in Banker’s exciting voice (following the unsettling TOAD ROAD), one that smashes doc and fiction together as he builds narrative around a real life subject. Enter Amy Everson, an artist who Banker chronicles and in the process reveals a great talent. Together the two visualize and tackle an overtly and overwhelmingly aggressive world for women. Ours. Having just played AFI Fest in Los Angeles, Amplify has announced its acquisition of FELT and an intended release in April 2015.

Directed, produced, co-written, and shot by Banker FELT stars Amy Everson in a breakout performance as a “young woman trying, and almost succeeding, to overcome both a past trauma and the subtle aggressions she experiences daily from the men in her world by immersing herself in her art. By re-appropriating the male form into an unpredictable alter ego, she may be pushing away her friends, but the power and domination she feels is the only thing that finally may allow her to heal. When she meets Kenny (actor/filmmaker Kentucker Audley), she slowly opens herself up to him, hoping to have her faith in men restored.  Completely blurring the line between narrative and documentary, FELT doesn’t just point a finger at rape culture; it takes a full on swing at it that audiences will be hard-pressed to shake off.”

“FELT is the kind of film that defies genre in the absolute best way,” said Amplify’s Dylan Marchetti. “It’s a baseball bat to the face of rape culture, and that’s something that’s sorely needed. It’s cliché to say ‘I’ve never seen a film like this’, but I’ve never seen a film like FELT, and neither have you.”

“From the beginning I knew that Amy’s unique and powerful story needed to be told,” said director Jason Banker. “It was important that FELT ended up being released by a company that understands its pressing cultural relevance. I am indebted to Amplify for being that company.”

“FELT is a deeply personal film, and the way it’s resonated with people highlights the importance of having a serious discussion about how society treats women,” said co-writer and star Amy Everson. “I am grateful it’s being distributed by a company that understands this and wants to spread awareness with us.”

For more on FELT, I wrote of its merits and tremendous effect in my Fantastic Fest report here. If you’ve yet to see TOAD ROAD, it’s streaming on Netflix and Hulu now.

The Moveable Fest / Stephen Saito

AFI FEST ’14 INTERVIEW: AMY EVERSON AND JASON BANKER ON WEAVING AN INDELIBLE EXPERIENCE WITH “FELT”

On their stirring psychological study of a young woman confronting abuse with her art.

Amy Everson wasn’t feeling well as “Felt” came close to wrapping production. To say she gave her all to the film was an understatement, drawing upon a deeply painful personal past for the story of a young woman who keeps the world at arm’s length by creating costumes for herself that allow her to be someone else. But after lending her unique and inventive crocheted creations – often related to genitalia – to the film, not to mention some of her experiences and even her name, Everson was spent, feeling “shaky” and unable to eat because of a mysterious bug. Still, whatever was left, she was ready to give.

“She was a trooper, because I knew she was hurting,” recalls Jason Banker, who directed “Felt.” “When somebody is not feeling well, you don’t want to force them to do something, but she stuck with it…and some of the best things that she does in the film, I think, are in that final day’s worth of shooting.”

There’s no doubt that such commitment was necessary to make “Felt” as extraordinary as it is – for her troubles, Everson was honored with a much-deserved Best Actress Award at Fantastic Fest where the film premiered earlier this fall. But what’s beautiful about the film is how Everson and Banker combine their talents to create a one-of-a-kind horror film that’s intimate yet bold, offering an arresting study of recovering from psychological trauma at the hands of men that’s as visually potent as it is cerebrally stirring, particularly once Amy is shown to open herself up to the possibility of finding a connection with someone she meets at a bar (Kentucker Audley).

Shortly before the film made its West Coast debut at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles, Everson and Banker, along with Roxanne Lauren Knouse, who appears in the film as a model who befriends Amy, described how their own watering hole encounter led to the making of “Felt,” the immersive filmmaking process that led to such an indelibly moving experience, and what it’s been like to have people share their own experiences after seeing the film.

How did this collaboration come about?

Amy Everson: We just randomly met at a club and I introduced Banker and his filmmaker friend to some of my art.

Jason Banker: [Amy] was telling us about her art and we went back to her place. She took us through all the costumes and we were blown away. Me and my friend, who is a director as well,
just randomly shot something with her that we turned into a music video.

Amy Everson: Yeah, it wasn’t really intended to be a music video. I was just putting on some random costumes that they shot a bunch of footage.

Jason Banker: Then, a year-and-a-half went by and I kept thinking about her and making something more than just this video. One day, I just called her and asked, “Do you want to make a film with me?” She wanted to. That’s how it happened.

Amy, why was this something you wanted to do?

Amy Everson: I really liked [Jason’s] work from the music video and he basically proposed it as, “If you wanted to say anything to the world, what would it be?” I never really felt like I had a story worth telling. This story wasn’t even at the forefront of my mind. It just unfolded based on Banker following me with a camera and learning more about my life and how I interacted with people. I was at a point in my life where I was aimless and voiceless, and I was willing to just go along for the ride. I’m glad I did.

Was the art developed specifically for the film or did it already exist?

Jason Banker: I’d like to say it was made for the film, but it totally wasn’t. It was her world and when she opened it up and let us in to see what she was doing, it just resonated with me visually. As a filmmaker, you’re always looking for somebody that inspires you to want to make something, at least I do. Her artwork was super compelling, so I knew I had to do something with her.

Was it interesting for Amy to see how that art of yours fit into a narrative?

Amy Everson: Absolutely. We shot over a year or so, and [Jason] would fly out to San Francisco and shoot a little bit here and there. I really didn’t see where any of it was going. We had actors, of course, and there were scenes that we created and we played out, but in terms of exploring what my art meant to me, I don’t think I really had a clear understanding until I started getting in touch with “Why do I do it?” and how it fits into my life and how I interact with people. Even after seeing the end product and hearing people’s analysis [of it], it’s really hard to see objectively what it all means. For me, I’m just watching myself, like a home video and it’s through other people that I’m like, “Yeah. That is what it’s about.” I’m glad it makes sense.

If you weren’t that self-conscious, did that make it easier to act naturally on camera?

Amy Everson: I’m not sure if it’s harder or easier.

Jason Banker: It was. We started it with just [Amy] being herself. That’s the way I like to start as a documentary where you’re not interrupting anything that’s really going on and just let the person just be who they are. We’ll use a lot of that stuff, but then we slowly introduced what could be a story. Then there were scenes where she had to adopt a different persona for some of it, but it was a slow process. It wasn’t like, “Okay, now you’re going to act.”

Amy Everson: It’s a good introduction because Banker makes me feel comfortable in front of the camera. Then it just comes naturally.

Jason Banker: I knew she could pull it off because when we shot this music video, she was great on camera. I wasn’t worried. It was just putting in the work to go further with it.

Roxanne, how did you get involved in this?

Roxanne Knouse: Jason asked me to work with him a while ago, but it didn’t really work out and when he explained this project that’s going on with Amy, I really got behind it when I found out more and more what it’s about. I was really interested to see what was going on with her and her story. She seemed like a real person and [the subject] is something hugely important in my life as well, and wanted to showcase because I don’t think it’s really showcased that much in films. I thought [Amy] was a great voice to take that bull by the horns and do it up.

One of the great things Jason does as his own cinematographer is to shift perspectives within a scene or focus on different elements with the frame. Does that take a certain amount of planning or do you just do what’s instinctual?

Jason Banker: I prefer not to plan anything. That’s maybe my biggest flaw and my biggest strength at the same time. At certain times, Amy was like, “What are we even doing?” But I can see what’s working. I’m figuring it out as I’m shooting it, which is what the adrenaline rush for me is. It’s like, “We don’t have a plan. We’re going to throw elements together and see how they interact.” The scene in the hotel with the Australian guys was completely [improvised]. We just went to the hotel and we were like, “Let’s make something happen.” To me, that scene feeds into the style of the way that I like to work. Amy is great at just working with that. Even though it may be frustrating sometimes, she always pulls off miracles. Then when Roxanne came in, she brought that too.

Amy Everson: Everybody brings a part of themselves. It’s like the stone soup where everybody brings an ingredient and it becomes a whole. Of course, there’s the main chef here, but it works.

Jason Banker: The first scene with Roxanne, I just knew that I wanted a scene with a photographer and I had my ideas about the way that it could go, but they brought something way better than I was even thinking. That’s what I love. I enjoy that conversation you have in real time about what we’re making and people being like, “Well, I have this idea…” There was a couple different versions of that scene, but the one that’s in the film was the magic.

Given the nature of the story, was it interesting to have the two main creative voices here be a man and a woman?

Jason Banker: I was totally out of my depth on many occasions making this film. But I enjoy somebody throwing something back at me. I set things up the way that I think, then the people I’m working with might say, “Oh, that’s totally bullshit.” I’ll listen to it and be like, “Okay, actually, you do have the better idea.” It was frustrating for me at times, because [Amy] would tell me I was wrong, but then there were things that I was just so happy that she inserted in the way that she did. That’s why I do give [Amy] a huge amount of credit for the voice of the film, because my voice is definitely present and it’s creating something that she didn’t realize was going to happen because she trusted me. At the same time, I was really trying to get her story out there and I wanted her to be as collaborative and as giving with that as possible. I’m really proud of the way that it worked out.

Amy Everson: Yeah. We butted heads plenty of times and we had different opinions, but that was a healthy discussion. That’s what made the film. It’s this struggle and conflict within my life that made me that much more fierce in the film. I’m dealing with someone who may not recognize immediately what it feels like to be a woman, but …

Roxanne Knouse: …is willing to learn.

Amy Everson: … is willing to learn and follow the story and document it. It’s that conversation that unfolds within the film more.

Does this film mean something different to you than when you first started it?

Jason Banker: I like not knowing necessarily what I’m going to get at the end of the day. That’s part of the reason why I’d prefer not to work with a script or really with any plan. I just wanted to discover what the film would be with [Amy]. That’s part of what I like about filmmaking is having a conversation with somebody, usually somebody who’s really lived something that they can reflect on and and say, “This is what I feel.”

Amy Everson: I had ideas when I started about what story I wanted to tell, but then as we were going along, I wasn’t sure if that story would translate. Seeing the product at the end has been completely different from what I had imagined from the beginning, but I’m glad it came out that way. During the course of filming, a lot of things were happening in my life that really blended into the story.

The reviews from Fantastic Fest elicited quite a few deeply personal responses to the film. What was it like to be embraced in this way?

Amy Everson: It’s been a huge honor because it’s a personal story, but then having people really understand and empathize and analyze it and really get what a struggle I’ve been through in my life and what a lot of women go through has been really moving because so much of our lives are built around silence and shame. For me, to have a voice and share it, then for people to say, “This is important. This is good” is just mind-blowing. The reception has been the most wonderful part of the process. Having people even approach me and say, “That really moved me personally,” and telling me about their personal stories has been an amazing experience.

Jason Banker: There is also this thing about me being a male director and telling this story that really touches women because Amy’s story and life resonated with me on a level that I don’t even know necessarily. I could connect with it and at the beginning, there was a lot of need to say, “Trust me. I’m going to do the best that I can to honor your story.” I’m just glad that it came out. To me, that’s the most important thing is that she’s happy.

“Felt” plays AFI Fest once more on November 12th at 1 pm at the Chinese 5 in Los Angeles. It will be distributed next year by Amplify.

Travelorette / Jennifer Schlueter

“Felt” movie – “I felt your penis”

Yesterday at the AFI Fest, I was so sure that I was about to watch a movie about French Hip Hop, but my friend reminded me that tickets had been sold out and instead, we were about to see a movie about a rape victim’s approach to cope with the assault and her revenge on men in general. The plot is based on one of the actresses’ life experiences.

Since Amy, the protagonist (and the name of the actress as well), had been raped, she feels the need of revenging men. She barks at them when her friends are trying to introduce her, is often distant, and snaps pictures of their penises in bar restrooms. She enjoys situations in which she has control over the other sex and even fantasizes about killing someone. With her art, Amy expresses her darkest fears, secrets, the anger, and hatred she feels since she was raped. She forms penises out of felt, sticks needles in them, draws a man pulling his rectum apart onto a plate, or builds a Hitler fetus that she claims to have aborted in order to save many lives. She also wears nude body suits with either huge breasts and a vagina or a plastic penis and testicles. When things start to finally lighten up for her after meeting Kenny, a man who seems to love her and who gains her trust, he tells her that he hasn’t been completely honest with her. Since I do not want to spoil the ending completely, I will just say, I was shocked by the brutality of it; however, I knew it was coming because the film repeatedly alluded to it.

After the movie, the actors and the producers came to talk about their film. It didn’t surprise me that the movie was based off the real Amy Everson’s experiences, but I did not expect that she actually creates art as depicted in the movie. Her art was the inspiration to the movie. She has an actual website (www.ifeltyourpenis.com) where she forms felt penises according to clients’ wishes.

At first, I thought the movie was another depressing Indie film, and I was bored, however, not bored enough to leave the theatre, because I really wanted to know how it ended. And, I have to admit, the weirdness also intrigued me. There were a lot of ridiculous moments which made me laugh, but feel bad for it right after. I felt the most disturbed when Amy put on her men suits and walked through the forest with it – that was just WEIRD.

Once the real Amy started talking about her movie, however, I emphasized with her and I could feel the immense pain that she must have been through and must still be dealing with. She was very brave putting out a movie that shows her unique ways of coping with rape, letting people see her art, and opening up her soul. And when one of the female viewers thanked her for her honesty, realness, and inspiration, I figured that these were Amy’s intentions – next to making the audience very uncomfortable.

An underlying question of the movie surely was how much power women can execute over man, how uncomfortable women can make them, and if this feeling would ever come close to the experience of rape. I came to the conclusion that no matter what a woman does to a man, nothing would compare to the feeling of powerlessness of rape, unless a man was raped himself by a stronger person.

As weird and disturbing as the movie was, I was able to relate to its protagonist and felt her unbearable pain. I only had to feel uncomfortable during this movie, but I cannot imagine what she has to endure daily.

Sound on Sight / Bo Yun Um

AFI FEST 2014: ‘Felt’ Shows the Jarring Effects of Rape Culture

It’s a rare discovery when a film can materialize the internal terror that women experience on a daily basis so disturbingly close to reality. Blurring the lines of documentary and narrative storytelling, Felt truly is a film that demands to be felt. It accomplishes its goal by penetrating the deepest, most harrowing aspects of trauma to tell one of the most powerful and jarring stories about the female experience and rape culture ever put on screen.

Director and cinematographer Jason Banker follows his 2012 debut film, Toad Road with Felt, co-written by Amy Everson who stars in the film as Amy, a San Franciscan artist recently plagued by a trauma (not explained but certainly sexual) inflicted by the men in her life. As her ordeal unravels emotionally and psychologically, she plunges herself in the world of art as a coping mechanism.

“My life is a fucking nightmare” are the first words out of Amy’s mouth, a vocal confirmation of her trauma, usually reserved for her performance art. From there, we see her as she caves in on herself, crawling so deep and beyond, it’s unknown where the real Amy starts and ends. She re-appropriates the male form by frolicking in the woods, wearing an anatomically correct muscle suit and trying to re-enact the dominance demonstrated by the men she’s encountered. But it doesn’t stop there, as she continues to embrace their stereotypical brash, lewd attitude outside of costume form. This outlet to reclaim the power taken from her by an unknown attacker is only the beginning of how her mental disintegration manifests. Witnessing her inner battle materialize in outer form further conveys the delusion and terror that Amy struggles with every day, heightening the grim realities and the harsh effects of our gender warped society.

As Amy, Everson is equally charming and quirky yet brutally dark and intense. With these contradicting polarities, Amy is a compelling character who thrives in her darkest moments. Her egg-shell thin fragility only evokes the uneasiest tensions and like a ticking bomb, she’s bound to go off with a bang! When she isn’t creating art, Amy goes on dates with grade-A assholes for reasons unknown considering the obvious or toys with photographers who primarily want to shoot female nudes by dressing up in her costume. Even as much as Amy is drowning in her palpable vulnerability, she makes bold moves and is aggressively courageous in moments of potentially looming danger. Things take a turn when she meets Kenny, a genuinely good guy. But this isn’t the type of film that caters to happy endings, and naturally with escalating jabbing tension, tragedy strikes. Still, regardless of it’s unexpected and shocking ending, it’s Everson who is at the center and keeps the film in orbit with her haunting performance.

Banker utilizes his signature documentary style to create the suffocatingly intimate and teeth-clenching uneasiness that is Amy’s nightmarish world. But this style of filmmaking goes even deeper considering it’s meta-textual underpinnings (Everson is a real life artist and all the art we see in the film is hers). Instead of resorting to a traditional art documentary, Banker’s collaboration with Everson tells a story that resonates skin deep no matter what gender. Felt is a rare gem that shows a unique female perspective trying to seize back control of her identity without preaching overt misandry. As the film proves however, it’s hard to be a woman in a man’s world.

Movie Mezzanine / Dan Schindel

AFI FEST REVIEW: “FELT”

Felt might be more vitally of the moment than any other film that people aren’t likely to see. Right now, a very necessary conversation about rape culture and the myriad ways that society is hostile to women is taking shape. Felt isn’t a piece for conversation, though. It’s an experience. It’s an unvarnished, unpretentious, and seemingly unassuming portrait of what it’s like to be a woman and feel the world crushing your throat under its heel.

Amy Everson is a San Francisco experimental artist who’s experienced sexual trauma in her recent past. In Felt, she plays… Amy, a San Francisco experimental artist who’s experienced sexual trauma in her recent past. Everson co-wrote the script for the film with director Jason Banker, contributing her characteristics, her art, and real incidents from her life to the project. The result is a queasily fuzzed line between fact and fiction. Amy (the character) is in a place of tenuous emotional stability, and the movie makes her heightened, prey-animal viewpoint vividly real. The everyday monstrosity of men who harass her in bars or on the streets is mundane yet terrifying.

Felt is about finding a way to reclaim one’s sense of power and self-security. Amy’s art incorporates felt and yarn recreations of male iconography, including many, many phalluses. She builds a suit with bulging muscles and poses in it in the sunset. She has a penis voodoo doll, and sticks a pin up its urethra. It could be too quirky or come off as shallow hipster eccentricity, but Everson sells every aspect. She is weird and offbeat, not in a cute Hollywood way, but off-balance, gritty and unsettling. She seems like the kind of person you’d inch away from if they sat next to you on the bus, despite the fact that she’s clearly in desperate need of some kind of comfort.

That empathy is the cornerstone of the film, which builds its plot, such as it is, around Amy meeting what seems to be a nice guy. Kenny (Kentucker Audley) is sweet, considerate, gentle, and almost perfect. Too perfect, even. Perfect enough that, while Amy grows to trust him, a ball of unease burrows itself deep into the audience’s collective stomach. Having established how fragile Amy’s sanity is, the movie builds spectacular dread out of waiting for the shoe to drop. #NotAllMen? #YesAllMen.

Felt is a pair of scissors thrust into the gut. If films came with trigger warnings, this one would be plastered with them. It’s not that it contains graphic depictions or even descriptions of triggering content (with one very notable exception). Rather, it makes gender-based micro-aggressions uncomfortably front and center. It uses empathy as a weapon against the audience, forcing them to confront this aspect of our culture in all its ugliness. It’s unshakeable, as it should be.

Grade: B+

The Hollywood Reporter / Justin Lowe

‘Felt’: AFI Fest Review

Writer-director Jason Banker and artist Amy Everson collaborate on a borderline bizarre psychosexual drama

Filmmaker Jason Banker’s second narrative feature relies heavily on his prior documentary experience for this disturbing portrait of a young woman struggling with the debilitating psychological effects of sexual trauma. The film’s largely improvisational style and DIY production values signal limited art house potential when Amplify releases Felt next year, with marginally better opportunities in digital formats.

As Amy (Amy Everson) tries to make a highly uneven recovery from a series of very bad relationships that may or may not have involved sexual assault (much is left undisclosed throughout the film), she attempts a variety of dysfunctional techniques to resolve the trauma. Initially withdrawing from even her roommate and best friend Alanna (Alanna Reynolds), she spends much of her entirely idle time lost in melancholic reverie, ensconced in her bedroom or aimlessly wandering the streets of her San Francisco Bay area neighborhood.

As an artist, she naturally tries to channel her efforts into one of her projects, creating homemade body suits from sheer beige material. Adding a fake phallus to her outfit, she play-acts some violent revenge fantasies alone in the depths of a redwood grove, but apparently these antics provide an insufficient resolution to her increasingly complex psychological conflicts. Unexpectedly veering in the opposite direction, she begins hanging out with Kenny (Kentucker Audley), a random guy she meets one night playing pool in a neighborhood bar. Their blossoming relationship seems to provide some stability as her behavior temporarily normalizes, but then Kenny’s own secrets threaten to push them both into risky, unknown territory.

Banker, who also produces, shoots and edits the film, refers to his collaboration with co-writer and San Francisco-based artist Everson as “docu-horror,” but the film’s verite approach never remotely achieves genre status. With predominantly improvised dialogue and performances, Felt gains scant narrative complexity from an over-reliance on a no-frills documentary style.

Although Everson’s representation of Amy’s psychological affliction demonstrates an unconvincing Freudian literalism, her increasingly bizarre artistic interpretations do manage to build some mildly escalating tension. Whether those developments possess enough significance to bestow the film with a compelling plot may depend on one’s interpretation of dramatic structure. The film’s dependence on practical locations and handheld cinematography, however, appear to be as much a budgetary consideration as a stylistic choice, but could be said to suit the material’s determined realism.

Schofizzy / Trevor C. Schoenfeld

AFI FEST 2014: Top Priority

Amy, haunted by a recent trauma, plunges into the world of her art to create an alter ego as a coping mechanism. DIR Jason Banker. SCR Jason Banker & Amy Everson. CAST Amy Everson, Kentucker Audley, Roxanne Knouse, Alanna Reynolds. USA.

Why this is a top priority at AFI FEST 2014 – When the full schedule to AFI FEST 2014 went public I polled friends and followers on the most buzzed films. “Felt” was the most mentioned. It also was noted for being very weird. I like weird, mostly… either way I am in for the ride.

Schofizzy / Trevor C. Schoenfeld

AFI FEST 2014: Day Four

“Felt” is an important film. It bravely confronts rape culture and the affect on victims. In a society where men have continually pushed their impulses upon women, it is critical we understand the repercussion those horrific actions will have on the victims. Actress and co-writer Amy Everson delivers the best performance at AFI FEST 2014. She brings a passionate raw energy to the screen that is acute and also delightfully vulgar. She furthermore, has a voice that is very refreshing to see represented on film.

The social drama directed by Jason Banker has plenty to say about trust and intentions within the day-to-day relationships we have in our lives. Everything from friendships to dating. There is a honest and approachable independence on display, but also a very tangible threat of breakdown. Felt uses real-life art that mimics the male form, allowing Amy to take on traditional supremacy or hierarchy associated with it. The suit is used in multiple impending sequences that serve as a mechanism to cope with the trauma haunting Amy. The result is a passionately piercing piece of art that callously flips the rape context. Felt is tell all your friends good. It is the kind of film that will leave you talking and deservedly needs your attention.

Sound on Sight / Pamela Fillion

REEL MTL: Jason Banker’s Sophomore Feature, ‘FELT’ Poignantly Tackles a Difficult Subject

How do you make felt? There are two general ways: the first is by drowning wool and then shocking it dry and the second requires poking and prodding with a needle until the wool becomes a wholly new material. Amy, whose world FELT allows us to dive into, is an artist who has crafted an arsenal of felt penises and body suits, through which she explores and escapes into alter-egos.

Much like felt, Amy has been through rough times, which have begun to unravel her:

“My life is a fucking nightmare”, Amy’s voice, tentative and cracking opens the film, “every waking moment, every time I close my eyes, I just relive the trauma. I’m never safe and I can’t even tell what’s real anymore, everything… just blurs. I don’t sleep, I don’t eat, I’m just walking through this dream … ghosts haunting me.”

FELT will ring harrowingly true for audiences who have personal experiences with trauma and ptsd: particularly those who have experienced gender-based violence. For those who haven’t, the film provides a look at the embodied consequences of violence and its destabilizing effects.  As Amy tries to hang on to friendships (her friends are at the end of their ropes), all the while escaping into and through her art, she tries to establish new relationships, the pervasiveness of rape culture becomes all too clear as are the high costs of intimacy, romantic and otherwise.

The films evocative power lies in the talent of Amy Everson, who plays Amy. Everson delivers an incredible performance bringing this complicated character to life: both frail and daring, delicate and an unabashed “potty mouth”, depressed yet still humorous, creative and destructive. FELT’s Amy is constantly finding herself in hallways and transient spaces, literal and metaphorical ones, and it is in these liminal spaces, where she contemplates ways to get herself out of the predicament she finds herself in: ways to regain control. At times, friends join her in these hallways sharing their own fantasies and desires. It is in one of these hallways, where Amy begins her friendship with Roxanne, the films second most intriguing character, played by Roxanne Lauren Krause, whose time on screen feels cut short.

Carefully curating Everson’s talent and art, is Banker’s cinematography. FELT is Jason Banker’s second feature. His first narrative, Toad Road, took home the award for ‘Best New Director’ and ‘Best Actor’ at the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2012. Banker has been on my filmmakers to watch for list since then. The imagery and visuals in FELT are arresting and carefully pieced together while retaining an organic and raw component. There is here a continuation and evolution of Banker’s filmmaking style which blends documentary, genre, and art house styles into something wholly new: a fascinating hybrid. There is a distinct artistic aesthetic to the film that can lend itself to lengthy cultural studies analysis beginning with the use of Amy’s red hoodie as a signifier (index) and of course, the visual texture of her suits and crafted world. The combination and collaboration of Everson’s art and Banker’s filmic method is striking. In this genre film, there is horror on multiple levels. I, for one, find the film deeply personal, heartbreaking, and tragic.

Last but not least, one of the more influential elements of the film is the carefully chosen soundtrack featuring songs by Deaf Center, Scott Tuma, Joakim and Brambles . Indeed, sound design and soundtrack can make or break a film and for FELT, the choices were spot on. Downright haunting, the melodic pulse of the film, Deaf Center’s ‘Time Spent’ is insidious, slightly creepy, sweet yet hurting.

FELT recently was picked up for North American distribution with Amplify.

Verite / Anton Bitel

Under the radar US indies of 2014: FELT

“My life is a fuckin’ nightmare,” says Amy (the astonishing Amy Everson) in voice-over at the beginning of Jason Toad Road Banker’s Felt, as she sits at home, visibly upset, before donning a one-piece green lizard costume of her own making and venturing out into the street. “Every waking moment, every time I close my eyes, I just relive the trauma. I’m never safe. And I can’t even tell what’s real anymore.”

This is the first and last time her voice-over will appear in the film, carefully establishing a damaged interior that is not always so apparent in the brash, aggressively quirky exterior that she shows to others. Yet Amy bears deep emotional scars that we infer – without ever quite being told – have been inflicted by sexual abuse and rape going back to her childhood. Arrested and unable to break free fromher wounded state, she tries to claw back some control though fantasy, ‘dress-up’ and art.

So it is that Amy’s collection of dolls and other toys (both infant and adult) has been reconfigured into disturbing sexual tableaux in her bedroom. So it is that when she is not earning money dressed as a chicken to advertise a restaurant’s fare, she painstakingly fashions her own special outfits at home from a range of materials for semi-private exercises in role play and would-be catharsis. And so it is that she regularly discusses with (female) friends her plans for male genital mutilation and murder sprees. The question of whether she is joking or serious brings to Felt a palpable tension.

“A dreamy, lyrical film that is also a nightmare”

This conflict between what is real and what is fiction is woven through the very texture of Felt, which offers up in an observational style (that could almost be called ‘documentary’) aspects of Everson’s own life and past (not to mention the extraordinary costumes that she makes), while also incorporating elements of horror. Amy is set up as a real person (not unlike the actor who plays her and shares her name), but also as the heroine of a rape-revenge movie—and viewers are left to negotiate the difference in this game of identities, and to experience for themselves something of Amy’s own dissociative experience.

In the first half of Felt, we see Amy struggling through social or dating encounters with a range of men who casually introduce the language of rape into their banter, or express their gendered dominance and arrogance in other ways. The second half traces her evolving relationship with Kenny (Kentucker Audley), an unusually sensitive, respectful man who drifts into Amy’s orbit and becomes like ‘one of the girls’, promising the possibility of a new life—until a simple act of betrayal triggers something primal in Amy.

“Viewers are left to experience for themselves something of Amy’s own dissociative experience”

Much of the film’s focus is on the blurred lines between the sexes, as Amy, through cosplay (and shamelessly vigorous farting), makes a performance of anatomy and biological function. “Everything is qualified”, Amy complains of her status as a woman, “by the fact that you don’t have a dick”, which drives her to dress in a man suit in her alone time, complete with stubbly mask and pendulous phallus, to feel for herself how the other half lives. She also, at a pornographic photoshoot, dons prosthetic breasts and a graphically crocheted pair of vulva pants as “a celebration of the female figure.” And yet it is male genitalia that are her principal preoccupation, leading to a horrifying climax, part triumph part tragedy, stitched together from the transgressive offcuts ofSleepaway Camp, Nekromantik 2, May and Julia.

Whenever she goes a-walking into the woods, Amy wears a red hoodie like the well-known figure from fairytale—but she proves as good at cross-dressing in the Other’s costume as any antagonistic wolf in a grandma guise, blurring the line between man and woman, predator and victim. The gender divide that Felt shears is reflected in the fact that it has been co-written by Banker and Everson, collaborating to craft a work that can be worn interchangeably by male and female alike. It may well prove an uncomfortable fit for either sex, but is all the better for that. A dreamy, lyrical film that is also a nightmare, Felt proves that hell hath no fury like a man-woman scorned, while also advertising the fleshy realities beneath its hand-crafted fabric.

All Things Horror / Mike Snoonian

The (In No Way Complete) Best (Non-Horror) Films of 2014 (Says Mike)

2014 has been an incredible year for movies. If you’re a studio executive in charge of greenlighting the next blockbuster that costs nine figures to finish, you might have reason to disagree, but for those who love great storytelling, there has been no shortage of films to choose from.
In the coming days, I’ll be posting my list of the best genre films of the year-those both already released and those making the festival rounds-in the coming days, but first I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the best non-genre films of the year. I’ll start with a pair of caveats. First, this list is by no means complete as there’s a number of titles I still haven’t had the chance to check out yet. I still need to check out John Wick, The Raid 2, Selma, Locke, Inherent Vice The Only Lovers Left Alive and a number of highly touted titles. Second, these films aren’t ranked in any sort of order. They’re just a number of non-horror movies that I loved watching this past year.
FELT This collaboration between director Jason Banker and his star Amy Everson is not the kind of film you walk out of saying you enjoyed. However it is a work that sticks in your conscious for days afterwards. In his follow up to Toad Road, Banker continues to blend the line between documentary and narrative fiction as the bulk of the film consist of following Everson around and just filming her every day interactions. Felt shines a white hot spotlight on the everyday sexism that stems from conversations and interactions which seem harmless in a vacuum, but add up one after another as a way of battering women into submission.

FilmBizarro / Ronny

FILM BIZARRO’S BEST OF 2014

Man, what an exciting year it has been! Well, not really. It has been the same boring shit like always except that we are all now that much closer to death than we were last year. However, as far as movies go, it actually has been an exciting year. After all, I think we all will remember where we were when the “Jurassic World” trailer dropped. And the trailers for “Star Wars”, “Terminator: Genisys” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” too. We’ll remember these dates for their importance, and not because trailers, and big announcements in general, are given their own release dates these days. Or that trailers receive their own teaser trailers in order to create hype for said trailers that create hype for movies that aren’t coming out for another year…It’s probably a safe assumption that next year, only trailers are going to be released.
 Of course this year also helped remind us that everyone still hates high frame rates, yet they love seeing Tom Cruise die, repeatedly, for almost two hours. Even with those exciting and life changing events, we composed ourselves long enough to sit down and hammer out our annual Best of the Year list. I mean sure, Christopher Nolan, Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson released movies this year and we all know their movies are the greatest, even without having to see them. Regardless, we still managed to find 30 exceptional movies that came out this year and we also put together a few special awards to help celebrate another memorable year in cinema.

Enough snarky cynicism and chit-chat, let’s get to our BEST OF 2014 picks!

#4

FELT
Director: Jason Banker

“Toad Road” hit the scene and made itself heard quite fast, and lived up to it. That doesn’t mean that the next movie of Jason Banker’s would be as good – but it was. Thanks to the performance of Amy Everson, this movie has you hooked. It’s a movie that plays off like a quirky drama but it has a lot of dark layers behind it, that slowly creep out. Behind some genuine touching moments and a few immature laughs, we’re taking a look into the mind of someone unstable and broken.

BEST ACTRESS:
AMY EVERSON (“Felt”)

Amy Everson’s awkward, offbeat performance in “Felt” made the movie stand out even more than it would have. Jason Banker is definitely a great director, but it’s the performance that we will remember for a long time after the movie ended, and it’s an actress I hope to see more of. It’s a roller coaster of a role and she nailed every moment of it.

Honorable mention: Morgana O’Reilly (“Housebound”)

Letterboxd / Timothy E. Raw

The first thing I felt after watching FELT was the need to take several showers. Utter contempt for humanity fogs every mumbled frame of this heroically maladjusted lo-fi effort. Misanthropy and man-hating is fiercely articulated, but painfully and perversely unjustified by Amy, a social misfit whose lack of a phallus makes her feel unable to connect with a world she can only begin to tolerate by dressing up in a man-suit with a prosthetic penis.

Only able to feel beneath the fabric of her costumed second skin, amongst much air-headed millennial speak, FELT features some of the most awkwardly blunt, emotionally stunted interactions imaginable, spoken with the terse dismissiveness of someone utterly disinterested with societal mores. Such outspokenness makes Amy impossible to ignore, but it’s this same laser-focused apathy that also makes it impossible to identify or feel with any resonating depth, for a purposely frustrating protagonist, queasily fixated on genitals, male torture and frustrated by her gender, which she believes has destroyed her life before she’s had chance to live it.

A perfectly cast Amy Everson is unglamorously ordinary (in looks only) so it’s easy to see her character as an angry, slighted loner, and yet the actress makes it impossible for you to take your eyes off her. The regressed torment of this disturbed personality is palpable, and it’s this force that still manages to makes a somewhat forced, downbeat ending powerful.

As a revenge film, FELT is predicated on every perceivable form of male violence and rape, signified in behaviour dialectics outside the act itself. Mercilessly miserablist, this is – for better or worse – the first 2015 title for US/UK release I’ve seen this month, and already I’m certain I won’t see anything as disquietingly extreme all year.

Horror-Movies.ca / Flay Otters

20 Must See Horror Films of 2014

So I went back and forth on whether or not to include films that I’ve seen this year, but, won’t come out for a while. I know some people take this very seriously and while I understand the idea that some may only want to include things officially released in 2014, I had a hard time not including some amazing films on this list – starting with one of the two at the very top.

In reviewing my notes, it seems clear to me that anyone who starts in with stuff about it being a down year for film should have their head examined. I had a good 50 films or so on a running list of favorites, so culling out horror from that was not only an easy task, it was a fun one. For all the negative chatter, it seems like laziness on the part of the viewer might be the cause of not finding good films to see. There is a ton of good work out there, you just have to go get it. Pay for it. Support the filmmakers. It isn’t complicated.

In terms of crime/suspense genre films you have amazing mix of work from innovative and energetic filmmakers that push boundaries and break new ground. Films like Big Bad Wolves, Blue Ruin, Bad Turn Worse, Nightcrawler, Cold In July, In Order of Disappearance, Calvary, Man From Reno, Whispers Behind The Wall, The Guest and even a more ‘mainstream’ film like Gone Girl. All solid, all creative and all worth seeking out if you love hard-edged crime/suspense as much as horror.

Beyond that, you have films that defy categorization like Tokyo Tribe, Cheap Thrills, The Raid 2, Under The Skin, Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, Snowpiercer, Jodorowski’s Dune, Nothing Bad Can Happen, The Tribe, Birdman and the utterly brilliant Blumhouse film Whiplash. None of these can be dropped easily into a category but all push the limits.

My point in praddling on about this is that it is absolutely inspiring to see so much creativity and energy exist outside the sometimes limiting confines of the mall multiplex. The underlying truth in this, is, you as the horror fan must get out and support these films and these filmmakers. If you want to see change and diversity and creativity and innovation in horror films and genre films then you have to actively demand it. That doesn’t come from stealing films and it doesn’t come from being lazy – it comes from putting forth the effort to actively be part of a community of creative people. Talk is cheap, as they say and I for one am proud every time I get to buy a ticket or pay for a download because I know that means I’m voting with my money and making a vote for progress. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be all that lofty, but, anything less is an empty gesture signifying very little.

With all that gasbagging out-of-the-way, here are my favorite horror films from 2014, in ascending order. Again, some have not nailed down releases and some are struggling to get it going but I’m nothing if not honest and more than that, I’m a fan, so I’d rather just celebrate my favorites:

18. Felt –
What might feel at times (early in the film) like an endurance test to withstand the grating whiles of an overly affective artist evolves seamlessly into an intimate portrait of mental erosion at the hands of abuse and neglect and cruelty. It is airless and drifting but brings things into sharp focus in such a deft and creative way that you don’t see it coming. Partially because you become a caring figure for the central character Amy (the amazing Amy Everson) and partially because you can respect but not fully understand what she has gone through, how she has tried to protect herself and what that kind of frailty can mean. Director Jason Banker doesn’t make it easy and doesn’t make it clean but man, pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to the frenetic and suspenseful final act. I anxiously await whatever he does next.

Shock Til You Drop / Samuel Zimmerman

2015: The Horror Films You Must See

Put simply, I can’t remember a year (in my moderate time of film writing) in which an entirely alternate, albeit unrestrained, Best of List could’ve been crafted out of films set for release the following calendar year. Over the course of 2014, a great year for film entirely, I saw some really terrific horror movies at festivals, from the purely frightening to the artfully crafted to the utterly unique. By now, some have landed distributors. Some even have release dates. Others will hopefully find their way in the New Year, because they are great and they are the films you must see in 2015.

Felt (dir. Jason Banker)

Jason Banker made an incredible narrative debut with the raw, hallucinatory Toad Road. There, he introduced audiences to a unique blend, building fictional narrative around a real life subject. In that film, he captured a drug-heavy circle of friends, two of which become captivated by an urban legend. In Felt, he’s turned his camera on Amy Everson, an enthralling artist and (stunning) first time performer. Here’s what I’ve previously written on the film: “Fascinated by Everson’s felt art, including full costumes, baby Hitlers and fake penises, Banker’s observational aesthetic chronicles her life of inner anguish following sexual assault, the ensuing trauma and the regularly hostile attitude the world has toward women. For a male filmmaker, or male audience, the latter is inherently impossible to understand, so it is vital it’s met with empathy and belief. Banker and his camera do just that by capturing candid moments that lay bare what women are met with on a daily basis.” Felt is an intense picture of both trauma and rape culture. It knocked the wind out of audiences at Fantastic Fest and will do the same this spring. Amplify will release Felt in April 2015.

Examiner.com / Alex White

The Austin Indie Film Examiner’s Best Festival Films of 2014

Howdy Austin film fans! Now that you’ve read my top 10 publicly released films of 2014 it’s time for part two of my three part year-end series.

With this list, we’ll delve into the film festival world. These films all played at least one film festival in Austin in 2014 and have either not been publicly released yet or have yet to receive distribution. Make sure you keep an eye out in the upcoming months for these great films in theaters or on VOD.

Without further delay, here’s my top 10 festival films of 2014!

  1. “Felt” – This intense and stunning movie from director Jason Banker and lead actress Amy Everson tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young woman dealing with severe childhood sexual trauma. “Felt” left me so completely shattered that I could not get myself to write about another film after Fantastic Fest this year before I could gather my thoughts on this one. Read my review on Larry 411.com here.

TwitchFilm / Ben Umstead

Best Of 2014: Ben Umstead’s Reflections And Favorites

As much as I can see 2014 packed to the gills with films people fell head over heels for, many of those mainstream and even Twitch favorites will be vacant from this list, simply because I thought this was a decent year for cinema. And as I always tend to do with these lists, I go off the beaten path as much as possible, so if there are choices of mine you have yet to hear much of, or have yet to be released, do not fret, keep an eye out, do a little digging, or drop me a question in the comments below.

What follows are a few general reflections on the year, honorable mentions, the top twelve countdown, followed by a brief rundown of favorite TV Shows. Onward and enjoy!

17. Felt (U.S., dir. Jason Banker)

 Complex / Frazier Tharpe

25 Indie Movies You Will Want to See This Year

With a new year comes a new crop of must-see blockbusters to populate your favorite multiplex from now until next Oscar Bait SZN™. We’ve already detailed which among the hundreds of movies deserve the most attention (as well as the ones that don’t), but as any halfway cinephile knows, that list goes deeper than sequels, superheroes, and franchises. A new year also means new indies—the smaller films, most of which are destined for cult status, and that’s only if they can snag a wide release date at all. To try and slot those in amongst the big boys would be unjust and overshadowing, so we’re narrowing the spotlight. Here are all the VOD gems, indies finally going wide, and brand spanking new releases that you need to pay attention to if you’re really about this Film Nerd life.

Director: Jason Banker
Stars: Amy Everson, Kentucker Audley, Roxanne Lauren Knouse
Release date: April

A woman whose day-to-day life offers increasingly diminishing returns slowly loses herself in an alter-ego. That’s about as typically indie as a premise could possibly get. But with Toad Road director Jason Banker behind the camera again for his second feature, we’re positive the final product will be anything but parody, and more of a crushing presentation that will probably leave us searching for a fantasy escape to recover. —Frazier Tharpe

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