Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we get shoved up a mountain, make all drugs legal, put on a show (sans jazz hands), get that mole on our back checked out, and head on over to Africa in order to start a fight.

Ballet 422 Trailer

Just appreciate how good Martha Marcy May Marlene and Tiny Furniture looks.

While being a great cinematographer isn’t a skillset that naturally lends itself to being a great director, what I appreciate about this trailer by director Jody Lee Lipes is how effortlessly it makes me care about the subject matter. Ballet isn’t at the top of any list that includes things I’m interested in but I am completely, entirely and without question enthralled at what unfolds before us. On the surface it’s just a documentary about a guy who is in charge of developing a ballet but, as the trailer wants us to delve deeper, it’s more about the process in its entirety. There isn’t a madman yelling instructions or grand pronouncements of his brilliance against a backdrop of frightened minions, there is only hard work. There is only the looks of people seeking the divine leadership of a man who needs to pull every lever available to him in order to make his production soar. We’re wonderfully carried through moment to moment, gaining speed and admiration, for a process that is much more than just ballet. It’s the process of an artist and how to make that artistry come alive through movement.

Skin Deep Trailer

It’s about potential.

When looking at the cinematic debut from director Jon Leahy there isn’t much to go on. In fact, there isn’t much here that provides any context at all for what’s happening on the screen. That’s fine, though, as the power of this trailer is how it sells us on the idea of what this movie can be. It’s a story of strangers, that much is communicated, but the ways in which we become moved to either proceed with the purchase of our time and resources occurs in the performances of the women we’re introduced to and the visual prowess of a little indie that could. It’s unremarkable with how ordinary their existence seems to be and the bond that they share must bubble up from some fount but because we only have the time they use to connect with one another, that’s the real lure here. Somehow, this relationship feels genuine and visceral. I’m captivated by the hints of what would bring these two people together in the first place as we move so effortlessly from scene to scene without it ever feeling rushed or stuck in some languid quagmire. It’s the story of two women, who share something prophetic about one another, and this trailer makes you love them before it wants you to love the narrative that binds them both together. And it works.

Manakamana Trailer

You got me.

One of the things about director Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’ documentary about people riding a cable car to a very sacred place is how gosh darned ordinary it looks. What’s more, is that the very same ordinary-ness is the one thing that makes this so extraordinary to take in. It’s like they stuck a GoPro inside a cable car and filmed anyone and everyone who decided to ride this thing while taping their reactions. It seems like it should be one of the most inane things ever but I could not look away while soaking in the raw vertie of it all. People from all walks taking this car ought to be the cinematic equivalent of watching home movies of humans you don’t even know but the strange thing about it, though, is that their genuine reactions are the very thing that makes them “just like us.” It’s cute, and it’s touching, and there isn’t a better way to pitch a movie that looks to say something profound without having to say anything at all.

Narcopolis Trailer

Who doesn’t love some great science fiction?

In the circles I run in, I listen to my fellow geeks talk about great science fiction writers and their contributions to the world of thoughtful narrative that weave in grand elements into their work. I don’t read science fiction and have to rely on filmmakers to make the fantastical seem possible. What I see in director Justin Trefgarne’s work, then, is the possibility to make his story feel tactile and real. It may be high concept thinking and even more so when it comes to the effects he uses but the moments that are stitched together here weave in and out seamlessly and smoothly. The story is rooted in one person’s narrative and while even though it would be easy to focus on the macro level details, bringing it back to one man, one focus is what makes this trailer stand out in a field of wannabes.

Katutura Trailer

There are times when I’m just flat out proud to help shine a light on a production.

I get sent a lot of trailers every month and, for the most part, a lot are Charles Barkley level “turrible” while others are just middle of the road. I’d love to be able and shove everything I get out there for you to see but I simply don’t have the space. But, when I was approached by director Florian Schott to show off his trailer I thought it was an interesting ask.

To read his explanation, he made it known he is “a German born filmmaker living in Namibia, Africa” and this year, “managed to shoot a feature film in the township of Namibia’s capital city Windhoek.” The movie “is the first independent Namibian feature film (Namibia only has a population of a bit more than 2 million people)” and they are, “planning to bring it to festivals around the world in 2015
as well as hopefully a worldwide theatrical release.”

I thought the trailer was gritty, definitely stronger than many of the trailers I see from budding filmmakers from around the world, and thought I’d share. Hopefully the value I saw in Florian’s efforts here warrant some others to see what is going on in other parts of the world.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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