Soundtracked to the likes of The Cure and Iggy Pop, Creedmoria burst onto the screen at this year's OXIFF. Telling the story of Candy and her family in Queens, New York during the 1980s, Creedmoria explores its lead's home, love and working life as she deals with the trials and tribulations of teenagehood. What the film lacks in narrative momentum (unlike other teen cinema it never feels like it is building to a definitive conclusion, such as Ferris' return home in Ferris Bueller's Day Off or the prom at the end of Pretty in Pink) it makes up for with its likeable cast and impressive degree of craft exhibited by its first-time director.
Written, produced and directed (as well as a host of other roles behind the scenes) by Alicia Slimmer, the film feels like a deeply personal passion project, with Candy serving as both the director's surrogate and the film's beating heart. Endearingly played by Stef Dawson, who feels like a talent to watch, Candy is ever the optimist even when dealing with some rather traumatic events (that I shall resist ruining here). Dawson is surrounded by a strong ensemble cast with the standout for me being Ryan Weldon, who makes the most of his sweet part: Candy's younger brother. He is the closest the film has to a driving force for its ending, and Wheldon is great in a part that requires him to be both funny and emotionally engaging.
The film, the deserved winner of Best Production at the festival, feels precisely made, with care taken to costuming, soundtrack (and it really is a stonkingly good one), set and composition of shots. The camera is often framed in a way to show the layers of activity taking place around Candy, calling to mind some of the finer work from Wes Anderson. In fact the film as a whole feels close to The Royal Tenenbaums made through the lens of a John Hughes' movie. What the film brings over from John Hughes' movies is the emotional resonance of the lead characters, something Wes Anderson's films often lack. But Creedmoria is entirely its own beast and demonstrates the skill its director has.
In her debut Alicia Slimmer has taken a charming teen film, grafted on personal elements, and shaped it into a film that welcomes her as a cinematic figure to follow. While rough around the edges and lacking a certain narrative drive, Creedmoria is a fascinatingly constructed, constantly engaging comedy with a pair of performances from its young stars that make the film all the more enjoyable. Here's hoping it gets a cinematic release soon as I desperately want to explore this film again.Creedmoria was preceded by three short films. A Chick Flick, winner of Best International Short at the festival, was a witty, anecdotal tale of a mother and daughter having to deal with the aftermath of a fox attack on their chickens. Interestingly cast and ripe with humour, A Chick Flick was a great calling card for director Lucy McKendrick. It was followed by A Little Grey: a surprisingly powerful look at depression and feeling a little bit grey. The short managed to find a unique way to show this. It had a quality that almost reaches the level of a Pixar short. Return to Sender followed and it was a charming, silent cinema-enthused, animated short, that, while not quite at the level of the previous short, was nonetheless, a fun watch.