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Anthem Film Festival

Virtual Anthem Film Review – ‘Speed of Life’ More than Just a David Bowie Song

Hollywood insiders often caution filmmakers not to mix genres. In Speed of Life writer/director Liz Manashil ignores that advice. She mixed rom-com, dramady, dystopian future and sci-fi to create an absolutely captivating and beautiful film. Speed of Life was a feature narrative entry at Anthem Film Festival 2020.

Anthem Film Festival
Allison Tolman as the 2016 version of June

Anthem, scheduled to take place in July in Las Vegas, went virtual. It took its selection of features and documentaries exploring issues around social and political liberty online from August 26 to September 30.

It’s A Rom-Com

Speed of Life begins in classic rom-com fashion. In 2016, a happy couple descends into an argument upon hearing the news of David Bowie’s death. Edward, played by Ray Santiago (Pablo on the series Ash vs Evil Dead), begins to tell a joke about Bowie dying. His girlfriend June, played by Allison Tolman (Molly on TV’s Fargo), launches into an argument about his lack of sensitivity and problems in their relationship.

During the argument, Edward gets sucked into a time-warp, caused by David Bowie’s death, and disappears.

It’s Sci-Fi

Girl loses boy to a time warp. But then girl gets boy back in the year 2040 when the time warp spits him out. The 2040 version of June, played by Ann Dowd has aged, but Edward has not. The rest of the film deals with adjusting to this little inconvenience.

Anthem Film Festival
Ann Dowd as the 2040 version of June

Another complication arises because June’s sixtieth birthday is just days away. In this future world, you lose rights at sixty. She had planned to flee the country with her best friend and wannabe boyfriend, played by Jeff Perry (Grey’s Anatomy). If she stays to resolve Edward’s reappearance, she risks capture and incarceration in an old-age home with everyone else who has reached that age.

It’s A Master Class

For a filmmaker this is a master class on how to make a remarkable film on a limited budget. It shows off Manashil’s talents in several areas.

One scene stands out and illustrates this. First, her director skills.

Edward, in the future, finds himself alone while June tries to sort things out. Edward has learned to use the future phone and decides to contact his sister. He pretends to be an old friend of himself, because everyone assumes he died, who wants to get in touch again. We hear only Edward’s side of the conversation. Manashil handles this masterfully. We sense both his joy and pain. His reactions tell us things about his sister and his parents. It is a touching moment.

Anthem Film Festival
Ray Santiago makes a phone call from the past to the future

How this moment is filmed shows Manashil understands cinematography. “Edward speaks on the phone” could have been a throwaway shot. She placed him instead on a park bench with beautiful purple flowers behind him and to the front. What could have been a nothing shot, turns to art.

It’s Dystopian

In an interview after the film, Anthem festival director Jo Ann Skousen asked Manashil about some of the liberty-oriented issues the film raises. Listening devices everywhere and seniors relegated to group homes on reaching sixty.

Skousen observed that although the film was set in the near future, the listening devices that were everywhere did not seem sinister like in 1984. She said it made her wonder just how smart it was bringing Alexa into our homes.

She also asked Manashil about the mandatory retirement homes for seniors.

Manashil replied, “It’s meant as a comment on how we just ship elders out at a certain point. We do really need to keep them integrated into society. We don’t respect elders and I do think we should integrate all ages together.”

You can view a trailer for this film below.

Anthem in the Future

Skousen hopes to return Anthem Film Festival and its parent event FreedomFest to the live world next year. Until September 30, you can get tickets to this year’s virtual Anthem Film Festival at this link.

Find information for next year’s events at the Anthem and FreedomFest websites and on Facebook.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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