Of the 140 films we programmed in 2022, here are 10 we’d like to designate as our NoBudge Films of the Year, films that resonated with a fresh vision, or were most representative of the NoBudge aesthetic or ethos. Note: All films that were released on NoBudge.com this year were eligible.
Lay Me By the Shore // A high school senior in his final days of school must come to terms with the death of a friend. “Lay Me by the Shore,” directed by David Findlay, is a gorgeously photographed, impeccably crafted tone poem about bottled confusion, regret and shame. A film swimming in uncertainty, it’s rendered with a remarkable sense of gravity, expressed less in plot than in gesture and atmosphere.
Buzzkill // A young girl desperately tries to fit in with a group of South Florida teenagers. Kathy Mitrani directs “Buzzkill,” an evocative coming-of-age drama that unfolds in vivid waves of longing, curiosity, and recklessness. The film beautifully captures the rhythms and desires of youth with immersive scene-building and tactile 16mm visuals.
Bill and Joe Go Duck Hunting // On a duck hunting trip, two friends head to the lake. Auden Lincoln-Vogel directs “Bill and Joe Go Duck Hunting,” a quietly assured, gently funny, portrait of man and nature. As the deadpan exchanges move along, the film begins to slowly fade into an almost dream-like haze.
Craigslist Roommate // A new roommate moves into Xena's apartment changing the dynamic with their current partner. Arielle Bordow directs and co-stars in “Craigslist Roommate,” a free-spirited 16mm snapshot of fluid relationships and shared living. The film perfectly captures early 20’s life of a certain alt subculture — it’s teeming with authenticity, dryly funny, and refreshingly candid in its sexual explorations.
NYC Tips and Tricks // A small time travel vlogger’s tour of Coney Island is interrupted by an unexpected phone call. Amber Schaefer directs “NYC Tips and Tricks,” a satirical portrait of a man so preoccupied with filming his frivolous-seeming video that he struggles to fulfill basic fatherly responsibilities. The film pinpoints the plight of the artist with absurdity and spontaneous comic detail, a fresh mix of funny, sad, desperate, and existential.
Scary Car // Four friends parked in a car do a ceremony in the middle of the woods. It goes badly. Made by the preeminent Brooklyn comedy group, Simple Town, “Scary Car” is lo-fi horror comedy at its finest, a brilliantly executed account of an unexplainable occurrence.
Jefferson Ave // A young woman adjusts to living with new neighbors after many months of isolation during the pandemic. Hannah Whisenant directs “Jefferson Avenue,” a simple, richly textured character study about reckoning with the end of solitude. Filled with nuance and restraint, and built around the wonderfully natural screen presence of Monica Sanborn, Whisenant’s film is a truthful portrait, both universal and highly specific to New York post-pandemic life.
Ciervo // A young girl connects deeply with nature while fearful of her brutish father. “Ciervo,” directed by Pilar Garcia-Fernandezsesma, is a coming-of-age animated film — a sensory exploration of girlhood, family life and country living, particularly on the themes of freedom vs. captivity, and hunter vs. hunted. With a striking artistry, Garcia-Fernandezsesma delivers wells of emotion within scopes both intimate and universal.
Empath // Afflicted by a mysterious case of hyper-empathy, a young woman stumbles across a group that claims to treat the disorder. “Empath,” directed by Alec Moeller, is an engrossing character study lifted by a powerhouse performance by Betsey Brown. With wall-to-wall tears, Moeller’s film captures its vulnerable subjects in darkly comedic scenes propelled by an entrancing score.
Thus Began Antoine’s Down-Going // Spending his days in a café in Paris watching people, Antoine falls for a woman he sees walking to the cinema. Paul Rigoux directs “Thus Began Antoine's Down-Going,” a poetic contemplation of love, art, and self; both an iconic depiction of a youthful French romance and a meta dissection of one. With understated style and performances, Rigoux’s film isn't afraid to shift moods suddenly, or to present both the charming and the cynical at once.