One of the more highly anticipated films of the festival, and a Bay Area filmmaker debut, this screening is its World Premiere. Sponsored by the San Francisco Film Commission. Presented in association with Film Arts Foundation.
Shot on a minicam, and no budget, borrowing heavily from new (old) wave French flavors, the film falls flat, sadly, for the audience was clealy cheering for the home town kids, and wanted it to rise to the level of the pre-hype of its purported pedigree. The Times we live in have certainly given writers plenty to work with the NeverEndingWar, youth with nowhere to go, and angst and anger simmering just below the surface. Despite the title, it didn't give the actors much script or character development to work with. The female actors were strippers by night, but their daytime roles were even less believable. Summer? As in a "season" of discontent, brewing heady terrorist plots? The motivation of the male revolutionaries was never plumbed, beyond naive and empty platitudes. The Bay Area has given the world plenty of real revolutionaries (Black Panthers, and even the SLA and Patty Hearst for tragic relief - Oakland residents should be embarrassed). The comparison to Zabriskie Point or Medium Cool is quite a stretch (I was at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968 when MC was filmed, and this film is nothing even remotely close to the conditions or political fervor of the day). To the film's credit, however, as the director introduced the film, he had the entire crew on stage to thank all involved and I was impressed with the genuine pleasure all showed, just thrilled to be there in their long-awaited project come to fruition. No preening or posturing, just young blood rising, showing there is a future for the cinema. As a debut, deserving of support. As a film, the revolution will not be televised.
With a completly different take, and effusive praise, from sffs.org:
Local filmmaker Miles Matthew Montalbano’s feature debut is the most open-hearted and open-minded political portrait to come down the pike in ages. Written under the influence of Bush’s Iraqatastrophe and the Vietnam War–era landmarks Medium Cool and Zabriskie Point, and directed with a nod to the French New Wave, this Bay Area DIY production imagines a trio of responses to the current repressive climate. Mackenzie Firgens gives a screen-melting, star-making performance as the aptly named Hope, a young woman with an undercurrent of vague idealism, an abundance of common sense and no real direction. Her best friend, Francine (a bold, brave turn by Lauren Fox), dismisses any discussion of philosophy and meaning in favor of a live-for-today frenzy of drugs, sex and more drugs. When Hope hooks up with Frankie, an earnest, likable fellow who’s signed on to a subversive plot to attack an unknown target, the stakes are kicked up a few notches. Brimming with restless energy and a palpable intelligence, and driven by Christian Bruno and K.C. Smith’s probing camerawork, Revolution Summer is an up-close and deeply personal meditation on individual responsibility in the modern age. A provocation spawned by an extraordinarily deep conviction, the film is nonetheless the antithesis of a self-indulgent screed. It abounds with countless small pleasures, from the tasty, spare soundtrack by Jonathan Richman to gritty glimpses of San Francisco and Oakland, to a tongue-in-cheek cameo by local rocker Chuck Prophet. With this sexy, dangerous drama that dances on the razor’s edge between anomie and violence, Montalbano announces himself as a filmmaker to watch.—Michael Fox