Screening Room is back again on the site after far too long an absence and for very good reason. The series resumes with a first feature by a filmmaker born and based in Southern Oregon, Nathaniel Bennett. The film is FRIENDSHIP, a 63-minute backwoods marvel comprised of equal parts supernatural thriller and buddy comedy. The film was brought to my attention last month by Ian Clark, whose feature film MMXIII was the first Screening Room selection more than a year ago. FRIENDSHIP was shot on 16mm and it is absolutely fucking gorgeous.
Recently, a lot of friends, colleagues, and LA cinephiles have been boasting that certain new releases "grip you" in their respective prologue sequences. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is one of these pictures, while Josh and Benny Safdie's HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT is the other. Both are sincerely good films, worthy of praise and your support, but neither gripped me in a visceral way in its opening sequence. By contrast, FRIENDSHIP had me glued to the screen in the first two minutes. After finishing FRIENDSHIP, I re-watched the opening sequence at least five times. I showed it to everyone who was around me at the time, to see if the feeling of awe was mutual. It was.
FRIENDSHIP is a rarity - as unsettling as it is hilarious. Not many films are as beautifully self-assured and lovably weird. I cannot recommend it enough. So, set aside an hour of your time for Nathaniel Bennett's FRIENDSHIP.
FRIENDSHIP is available to watch on LA Ciné Salon until further notice by permission of the filmmaker.
- Samuel B. Prime
Founder, LA Ciné Salon