REEL MTL: Jason Banker’s Sophomore Feature, ‘FELT’ Poignantly Tackles a Difficult Subject

 

10479732_355503364616965_3212489831937102656_nFELT
Written by Jason Banker and Amy Everson
Directed by Jason Banker
USA, 2014

How do you make felt? There are two general ways: the first is by drowning wool and then shocking it dry and the second requires poking and prodding with a needle until the wool becomes a wholly new material. Amy, whose world FELT allows us to dive into, is an artist who has crafted an arsenal of felt penises and body suits, through which she explores and escapes into alter-egos.

Much like felt, Amy has been through rough times, which have begun to unravel her:

“My life is a fucking nightmare”, Amy’s voice, tentative and cracking opens the film, “every waking moment, every time I close my eyes, I just relive the trauma. I’m never safe and I can’t even tell what’s real anymore, everything… just blurs. I don’t sleep, I don’t eat, I’m just walking through this dream … ghosts haunting me.”

FELT will ring harrowingly true for audiences who have personal experiences with trauma and ptsd: particularly those who have experienced gender-based violence. For those who haven’t, the film provides a look at the embodied consequences of violence and its destabilizing effects.  As Amy tries to hang on to friendships (her friends are at the end of their ropes), all the while escaping into and through her art, she tries to establish new relationships, the pervasiveness of rape culture becomes all too clear as are the high costs of intimacy, romantic and otherwise.

The films evocative power lies in the talent of Amy Everson, who plays Amy. Everson delivers an incredible performance bringing this complicated character to life: both frail and daring, delicate and an unabashed “potty mouth”, depressed yet still humorous, creative and destructive. FELT’s Amy is constantly finding herself in hallways and transient spaces, literal and metaphorical ones, and it is in these liminal spaces, where she contemplates ways to get herself out of the predicament she finds herself in: ways to regain control. At times, friends join her in these hallways sharing their own fantasies and desires. It is in one of these hallways, where Amy begins her friendship with Roxanne, the films second most intriguing character, played by Roxanne Lauren Krause, whose time on screen feels cut short.

Carefully curating Everson’s talent and art, is Banker’s cinematography. FELT is Jason Banker’s second feature. His first narrative, Toad Road, took home the award for ‘Best New Director’ and ‘Best Actor’ at the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2012. Banker has been on my filmmakers to watch for list since then. The imagery and visuals in FELT are arresting and carefully pieced together while retaining an organic and raw component. There is here a continuation and evolution of Banker’s filmmaking style which blends documentary, genre, and art house styles into something wholly new: a fascinating hybrid. There is a distinct artistic aesthetic to the film that can lend itself to lengthy cultural studies analysis beginning with the use of Amy’s red hoodie as a signifier (index) and of course, the visual texture of her suits and crafted world. The combination and collaboration of Everson’s art and Banker’s filmic method is striking. In this genre film, there is horror on multiple levels. I, for one, find the film deeply personal, heartbreaking, and tragic.

Last but not least, one of the more influential elements of the film is the carefully chosen soundtrack featuring songs by Deaf Center, Scott Tuma, Joakim and Brambles . Indeed, sound design and soundtrack can make or break a film and for FELT, the choices were spot on. Downright haunting, the melodic pulse of the film, Deaf Center’s ‘Time Spent’ is insidious, slightly creepy, sweet yet hurting.

FELT recently was picked up for North American distribution with Amplify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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