Dir. Gabriel Bienczycki, Richard Karpala | USA | 2023 | 80 mins | UK Premiere
Out in the desert in the American West, harvest season has arrived; more specifically, the season of the witch. Local residents prepare for this annual occurrence by leaving humble offerings outside their homes – nuts, berries or twigs – to placate the witches. Otherwise, they have a nasty habit of sweeping down, like the falling stars in the night, and taking whomever they wish. A local radio host keeps the lines open late for the community to reach out with stories of sightings and disappearances, while people hunker down for the evening. However, instead of sheltering, three brothers make the dangerous decision to set off into the night to catch a rare glimpse of a witch’s corpse, buried in the desert by their friend. Despite warnings about the consequences of disrespectful behaviour at the grave site, the corpse is accidentally desecrated when one of the group spills beer on it. The brothers flee, but they cannot outrun the curse they’ve brought on themselves; as their mother stoically explains to them, their only hope for survival is to return to the grave and burn the body before dawn.
Utterly enchanting and immersive in its worldbuilding, Gabriel Bienczycki and Richard Karpala’s FALLING STARS is an unnerving, slow burn experience where a creeping sense of doom continues to build throughout. Fantastical genre elements are grounded firmly in the reality of this community, where this extraordinary, supernatural tradition has been part of their lives for generations. As stories are handed down, attitudes and approaches to the witches evolve with time, creating a unique mix of superstition and stark inevitability at the heart of this dark, folkloric fable.
Screening with STOP DEAD + ONLY YOURSELF TO BLAME
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