This is the third in the Friday the 13th series about the films at the 15th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival. Part I considered the wonderful documentary Harvest, while Part II reviewed the soon to be released coming of age film, Born and Raised. Like the latter film, this film, “Pig”, was screened at the Women’s Club New Belgium Pub Theater (temporarily named for the festival). The theater was one of the eight (8) venues just off the Sonoma Plaza. The crowds remained very large and still appreciative despite the late start for this mesmerizing Sci-fi film.
As the plot summary states, “A man wakes up alone in the middle of the desert with a black hood on his head and his hands tied behind his back.” So begins this desultory mystery which was written and directed by Henry Barrial. The plot slowly unravels as ‘the man’ recovers from his near death experience and total amnesia while he attempts to recover his memory and learn who he is, why he was left to die in the desert and other facts about his life. His only clue is a piece of paper in his pocket with the name Manny Elder printed on it.
He is found in the desert by a woman, Isabel, perfectly played by Heather Ankeny, who indeed nurses him back to health and also helps him discover that Manny Elder (Keith Diamond) lives in Los Angeles. Isabel takes him to LA to find Manny, which he does, but besides some event triggered flash backs he never quite learns who is he is. But the viewer does as the plot twist is revealed with all the loose ends tied together in a somewhat unnerving conclusion. Rudolf Martin is the Man. ‘Is’ because he is totally convincing as a man with amnesia. He expresses the frustration and persistence of someone who must learn who he is.
The desert scenes were shot in Joshua Tree National Park and Twenty-nine Palms. Both offered the desert sand and barren landscapes to match the man’s memory. Collin Brink’s cinematography maximizes these locations to create the sense of emptiness amnesia must offer its victims. More of the plot will not be revealed here because the film is worth seeing for oneself. It is smartly written, directed and produced. In the genre of a very good Rod Serling or Nolan’s ‘Memento‘ this indie film keeps you guessing to the very end.
Heather Ankeny and Mark Stolaroff (producer) were among the cast and crew who were present at the venue to answer questions about this excellent festival offering. Go see it!