Fernando M., Here…
Nowadays we tend to think of independent cinema as anything that plays at “Angelika” theaters that doesn’t involve special effects. They usually star Gary Oldman and/or have people speaking in British accents. Sure, all these are “independent,” but we forget that there are even smaller movies out there; there actually exist movies that are produced and created by small studios in real communities. Sunny in the Dark is one of those.
As a matter of full disclosure, the film is shot, produced, and directed by Dallas natives. As a Dallas native myself, I may be slightly partial to their effort because of local pride. That stated, let’s get into the meat of it.
This is a full length feature which was inspired by an odd newspaper story. The writer of the film once read a snippet about a woman who lived undiscovered in a man’s attic for an entire year. That small headline inspired this film. I usually try to avoid spoilers, but you have to understand a bit about the setting. This really is a movie about a guy who unknowingly shares his apartment with a woman that lives hiding in the attic. She observes his daily routine, comes out and takes over his space while he’s off at work, then retires each day to her secluded space above his world. We don’t know why she’s there or how she came to be there, but it doesn’t matter.
The story itself is an examination of the need, and fear, of companionship. It is an incredibly human film. The script could use a little bit of tweaking here and there (there are some clichés and some unnecessary relationships), but you can’t deny that it is incredibly original. Now, the movie is very small budget. Very, very, very small budget. Even with that in mind though, there is some amazing talent on the screen. The big breakout comes by way of Hannah Ward’s portrayal of “Sunny.” Her speaking roles are limited, but her emotion is so amazingly real and raw. There were tears in the eyes of the audience throughout. Any symptoms of a limited budget were easily overtaken by the sheer power of Ward and the incredibly clever director Courtney Ware.
This will be hitting the small screen soon by way of Vimeo, Amazon, and Netflix. Although it’s not quite up to the caliber to get a big screen release, I don’t believe it ever intended to be. This is a must watch if you can think of it as a new work of art that you might find in a small off-the-path gallery. Open your mind a bit and you will find true beauty within these rough edges. I have little doubt that if this is the beginning of Courtney Ware’s directorial career, we are all in for a big surprise.
– Fernando Martinez