Authored By Joshua Wegner, Film Reviewer at Riffing on Horror
"Sunset In Winter" is a short film about a man who is having to deal with a devastating loss in his life. Within only about twenty minutes, we see him lose one of the most important things in his life. As time goes on, he finds himself able to overcome and begin to move on.
One of my favorite quotes from this film is "It's easier to navigate in the light." If you have ever been through a loss, you understand exactly how important and true this can be. We like to think that things will not necessarily ever go wrong for us as individuals. Unfortunately, it is all too common that these horrendous things do happen. Sometimes it is indirectly, like a friend losing a loved one or some distant cousin passing away. Other times, it's right in front of us. Perseverance is key in these dark times. Though it can seem impossible and you may feel the need to turn to alcohol, smoking, or darker things, it is always important to keep the thought that we must go on. Maybe at first not for ourselves, but for someone else. It might be your children, your friends, your family, or someone else entirely. Eventually, you do find a way out to the other side. It can be a long journey to go through the grief that is expressed in this film. Sometimes, we just have to be reminded that there is an end.
This film captures a situation that a large number of people have experienced, including myself. Watching someone you love go through cancer is not an easy task. The filmmakers do an excellent job of bringing this situation to life and displaying the reaction to it in a real and raw kind of way. Though I am unsure if anyone involved has experienced this personally, it definitely feels like someone involved did so. The truth behind it feels all too close to reality. The award for "Best Male Actor In A Short Film" from the Art Is Alive Festival is truly only scraping the surface of what this short has to offer. The truth behind this short film is extremely powerful and relatable to anyone experiencing, or who has experienced, the grief associated with losing a loved one. During the short run time of the film, they captured just one example of what can happen when someone deals with loss and does so astoundingly successfully.
Authored By Chris Jones, Founder of Overly Honest Film Reviews
A gut-punch of a film for which I was not prepared. The words emotionally charged barely cover it; we are met with moments that give us little else than sorrow. The battle of what to do with yourself when “yourself” is lost is a question that the lead actor in this film battles with from the start, without even knowing it. There was so much to this film; nearly six of the twenty minutes run time takes place between two people in a bed. It establishes so much in that time. There were so many simple back and forths that create the overall tension that we feel throughout this picture.
The turbulent fallout that Kelley Lockman (writer, director, and star of this film) shows on screen makes you connect with him in a way that many have tried and failed. The film’s ending is spectacular, as it crosses a finish line that I was not expecting. It ultimately gives the viewers a feeling that things have come full circle. Thankfully though, it manages to leave enough open to the point that lets you write the ending you want yourself. The film has a relatively small cast that fits their roles perfectly. It is not every day that a twenty minute movie can have such an impact on you.
Authored By Billy Disaster at BillyDisaster.com
Juror for Art is Alive Film Festival
We all deal with losing a loved one at some point in our lives. And we all need to go through that period of emotion that follows. Sadness, anger, loneliness, fear, repeat. And then (as so many people will annoyingly tell you) it becomes easier over time. That’s what this flick is about.
It’s the middle of the night and Zach (Lockman) and Beth (Hamilton) are in bed sharing some of Beth’s last moments of her life together. She has cancer, but she also has Zach, who is very much in love with her. She seems to have found peace and is quite appreciative of her companionship with Zach. But then he leaves for a moment and she is now alone with just her thoughts. The tears begin to well up in her eyes and her expression shows the true fear that she doesn’t want to seem to burden Zach with. It’s a powerful moment.
After she dies, Zach goes through his grief in some of the darkest possible ways. He has kind of given up and finds himself in a spiral of depression, self medication and isolation. Luckily he has that one friend, that hopefully everyone has (Charlton Hoag), that wants to help by taking him camping to get him out of his funk.
Without telling you the WHOLE story, we get to see Zach at the back end of his recovery and it feels really good. And that is what is so great about this flick. I really felt the loss of Beth, and the intensity of Zach’s despair was something that I had to recover from myself.
The reason that all of this was so effective was the artistry and craft that went into making this film. The occasional focus on the ceramic statue that represented the love of Zach and Beth, the cinematography that (for me) represented the hope beyond despair and the attention to nature, were all so very effective. All of the performances were terrific and it’s easy to see why this won Best Actor. 5 Clapperboards for Sunset In Winter!