The Upsider

A Kansas City technology, media, and marketing blog by Tyler Hillsman.

KC Film Fest, Day 3: Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, Corporate FM


I feel like I’ve been living at Mainstreet 6 this week (and that’s perfectly ok with me). On Friday, the third day of KC Film Fest, I saw two feature films. Here are my reviews:

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts

Sarah Sparks is a New York technophile who relates better with gadgets than humans. While she has a healthy relationship with her boyfriend, Leon, she rarely sees her sister in Los Angeles. She communicates with her father even less frequently, and she is estranged from her mother. When Sarah finds out she is pregnant, she decides to change all that, flying to California to get closer to her family before she has a family of her own. Her journey takes her to a baby shower full of strangers, meeting her father’s Brazilian Skype girlfriend, and to Las Vegas where Leon’s masseuse sister lives. From there she goes looking for her mom, trying to connect with her and learn about being a mom herself.

Although the plot was straightforward and predictable, the film was really an examination of all the characters that are well-crafted and rich. The relationships are deep and you feel like these characters have existed for years with their complex issues and history of heartbreak nagging at them. The film started off quickly as Sarah finds out she’s pregnant within the first 5 minutes. However, it really slows down once she gets to California. The conversations between characters are meaningful and reveal lots about the individuals, but they are a little dry to watch. They’re necessary to the story, of course, but they really slow down the pace from the early energy.

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts is a beautiful film, and the camerawork is great. The writing is very strong, and I connected with all of the characters. But I wish the ending was as fast-pasted as the beginning, with quicker dialogue. Still, it felt real and that’s all you can really ask.

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts has a second screening at 3:15 on Saturday at Ward Parkway 14.

Corporate FM

When it comes to radio, the Telecom Act of 1993 changed everything. Before it, radio was largely a mom and pop business: local, relevant, and chart-forming. After it, eight stations in a market are owned by the same corporation, computers play more songs than DJs, and the songs that are played come straight from the charts. No longer to call-in requests help determine airplay, no longer do regions have distinct musical tastes. According to Corporate FM, the consolidation of radio has homogenized radio and eliminated competition. Radio stations don’t help independent bands rise to the top when the corporations who own them require airplay of bands with national labels. These points and more are at the forefront of Corporate FM.

This documentary, really an expose, of the current radio industry is hard-hitting and raw, taking the audience into the homes of the disc jockeys laid off in the name of efficiency and standardization. We hear from independent artists who were given a chance on radio (Jewel) and those who will likely get no such chance (Antennas Up). The filmmakers explain that the death of locally-owned radio has hurt local charities and driven away listeners. Less a radio-vs-internet-music and more a local-vs-corporate-owned argument, Corporate FM calls for a return to the days where local DJs ruled the airwaves from morning to the late night, and, yes, even on weekends. It is masterfully filmed and edited, proving its point quite aptly and efficiently.

Corporate FM has a bone to pick and it does that extremely well. While it does not provide much of the “other side” of the issue, it doesn’t pretend to. It’s a David and Goliath story told from the perspective of David, and the film explains extremely well why the little guys deserve to win. The passion of these filmmakers is very evident, and I can’t wait to see the discussion this film causes. Definitely try to see it, if you’re interested in the radio industry at all.

Catch Corporate FM at 3:45 on Saturday at Ward Parkway 14.

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