From Commercial Appeal critic John Beifuss:
Sunday, in the Fanfare section of The Commercial Appeal, we ran my selection of the Ten Best films of 2001, along with a “Second Ten,” and a few choice “Dogs of the Year.”
The story (to the usual distress of my editors) was pretty long. So long, in fact, that there was no room for my usual list of also-rans – those movies that didn’t make my top 20 but which were worth seeing because of their overall excellence (The House of Mirth), because they exposed audiences to a foreign culture (A Time for Drunken Horses) or because they showed pterodactyls pecking people (Jurassic Park III). So for those readers who keep asking “What about Ali?” and “Did you see Harry Potter?,” here is the rest of the story – a litany of the other worthwhile movies that played on Mid-South cinema screens during 2001:
Slick Lily vs. The Grand Canyon (this absurdist presidential election satire was my favorite of the year’s locally produced, shot-on-video Indie Memphis features);
From the Commercial Appeal:
A rampaging monster made of kudzu, a martial artist named “Shinto Joe Bob,” a digitally animated chanteuse and the late Gov. George Wallace are among the uniquely Southern characters – both real and imaginary – that movie fans will meet during the fourth annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, which begins today and continues through Sunday at various downtown venues.
Movie buffs aren’t the only ones anticipating this showcase for “The Soul of Southern Film,” which will include independent movies made in the South, about the South or by Southerners.
Almost half the films on the schedule qualify as “Hometowners,” including such ambitious features as Strange Cargo, a film history-saturated chiller that name-drops Antonioni, Cassavetes and Last House on the Left, and Slick Lily vs. The Grand Canyon, an absurdist political satire in which the candidates for the U.S. presidency are literally symbols – “inanimate objects acting as puppets for the controlling monetary system,” as one character says.
In any case, while Indie Memphis may not have much money it does have an influence. Several filmmakers said one of their goals was to complete a project in time for this year’s competition. “Having a developing film scene in Memphis really inspired us,” said Stephen Stanley, co-director with Boris Triko of Slick Lily vs. The Grand Canyon. Stanley said Slick Lily cost about $2,350. It was shot with a Sony TRV 900 digital video camera, and edited on a computer. The movie mostly was shot on weekends over three months, with friends as actors. Because much of the movie unfolds in the form of television news reports, the low budget was not much of a detriment to the storytelling. “I would liken (digital video) kind of to what the four-track and electric guitar did for music,” Stanley said. “You could make an album and in our case a movie without the process people had to go through before – without having to jump through all these hoops just to get to make your first one.”