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“Feral” Is A Unique Entry At The Sarasota Film Festival And Will Have Audiences Buzzing

The 2019 Sarasota Film Festival has just recently begun down in Florida, and already they have a noteworthy effort to put forth into the cinematic world. The work in question is Feral, an independent drama that offers up a lot of unique things that should keep you incredibly intrigued. Festivals without A-list films need to showcase art at its most cutting edge, and this is an example of that. It could be a bit too unusual for some, but the acting and filmmaking demand that attention be paid. A look at homelessness with no easy answers and no judgment, it’s oddly captivating and manages to put a lot on your plate in under 80 minutes.

This movie is an indie drama about a girl on the streets, looking to survive as a blizzard slowly moves towards the city. Yazmine (Annapurna Sriram) does what she can to get by, which includes lying, cheating, and stealing when necessary. Needing to always do things on her own terms, she’s actually living in the tunnels below New York City, finding the solitude there comforting, despite the dangers. As she encounters various people who seek to either help or hurt her, we slowly begin to realize just what she went through, as well as what she’s up against. It builds towards an unexpected conclusion, one you’ll be replaying in your mind as the credits roll. Andrew Wonder directs, handles the cinematography, and co-writes with Priscilla Kavanaugh and Jason Mendez. The cast besides Sriram includes the likes of Bene Coopersmith, Aurora Flores, Annie Henk, Kevin Hoffman, ,Sonia Mena, Jonathan Rentler, Sarah Wharton, and more.

I was oddly taken with the film. Annapurna Sriram is excellent and Andrew Wonder combines an experimental narrative with some intimate direction. His own cinematography in particular is noteworthy. Keeping the camera in tight on Sriram, he also sometimes obscures the faces of others in the frame or who Yazmine is talking to. It’s an effective way to put you in her headspace. As much as this is a look at youth homelessness, it’s also just a character study of a damaged young woman. By the time we reach a pivotal confession in the third act, we’re ready to learn more about her protagonist. The script and Sriram’s delivery of the words are truly moving.

It’s safe to say that Wonder is a filmmaker with a distinct vision. Festivals are the perfect place to get a look at talent like this before anyone else. One of two things tend to happen with unique storytellers like Wonder. Either they get launched to greater heights or they get ignored and have to keep clawing their way up the ladder. Hopefully the former occurs here, not the latter. Wonder could easily handle larger scale material, especially with the intimate focus he displays here with Feral. Fingers crossed we get to see more work from him soon.

Feral won’t be for everyone. Arguably, it won’t be for most people. At the same time, whether you happen to be at the Sarasota Film Festival or catch this one down the road, it’s well worth a look. The movie mixes Sriram’s performance with Wonder’s visual eye to make something not easily dismissed. You may be puzzled by some of his choices, but it’s hard to argue that he’s not successful in what he sets out to accomplish. Once this moves on from fests and gets a theatrical release, it’ll be one to look out for. Right now, it’s just a standout effort at the Sarasota Film Festival for 2019…

Be sure to check out Feral when it hits theaters. For now, it’s playing at the 2019 Sarasota Film Festival!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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