When I first saw Randy Walker and Jennifer Shainin's film Apart from That at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2006,. the thing that struck me most was it's transparent honesty. The film was relegated to the "Experimental" category at the fest, a section that tends to be like the grab bags you can buy for fifty cents at a carnival: you never know if you're going to end up with something really nifty -- a mood ring, perhaps, or a cool brainteaser puzzle -- or if you'll get stuck with something vaguely annoying and unpleasant, like one of those Chinese finger handcuffs that squeeze your fingers tighter the more you squirm to get out of them.

Fortunately, Apart from That turned out to be a little gem of a film, and it's gone on to play at a slew of film fests far and wide since Seattle, racking up Walker and Shainin lots of airline miles and acclaim. The film is about loneliness, and the desire for connection and feeling loved and needed, told through the disparate tales of three people; we meet the protagonists at the beginning of the film, as guest of a party, and then the tale unravels from there to show us their disconnected lives, held together only by this common theme.

What makes Apart from That even more interesting is the techniques the filmmakers used in making it. They shot on a schedule of two days on, one day off, and rewrote the script on the off days to accommodate the direction their cast was taking the film -- kind of a bizarre mix of improvisational theater with filmmaking, and all with a cast made up almost entirely of amateur actors, locals from their small Washington town. And somehow, it works.

The film, much to my chagrin, still hasn't been picked up for distribution, but f you live in New York City, and haven't yet had a chance to catch Apart from That at one of its many fest showings, you're in for a treat -- our pals over at indieWIRE are hosting a special screening of the film tonight at 7:30PM EST, at Cinema East Village, 22 East 12th Street. Following the film will be a Q&A with Walker and Shainin, and it should be an interesting Q&A; Shainin and Walker are a delightful pair, and this event will be most enjoyable. It's almost enough to make me wish I was living in NYC in July ... almost. Drag yourself out of your studio apartment and go show some support for indie film, and give Shainin and Walker some love. You'll be glad you did.
categories Movies, Cinematical