A Strange Place
|A Strange Place|
Promotional release poster
|Directed by||Joshwa Walton|
|Written by||Joshwa Walton|
|Music by||Barak Dinkel|
A Strange Place is a 2018 American experimental short film written and directed by Joshwa Walton.  Oscar Deng, the film's sole star and director of photography, performs as a young man haunted by his choice of drink.
The ten minute short was the first critically recognized student film to result from the University of Florida's film program. On June 1, 2018, it premiered as a wide release on the Amazon Prime Video platform.
Plot[edit | edit source]
A young man decompresses after returning home from work by cleaning the dishes and preparing some food. However, when he forgets to pour himself a beverage, he notices a drink has been left for him.
Frightened by the idea that he is not alone, he searches his apartment for an intruder but finds no one. The notes on the drink continue to change though, prompting his curiosity to try the beverage just before bed.
When he wakes in the morning, he disposes of the notes attached to the glass, determined to forget them. But when he sees the trash is already full of identical jottings, he resigns to the notion that this is a cycle of behavior he himself is responsible for.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Oscar Deng as the Young Man
Production[edit | edit source]
Walton claims his interest in 70s cinema came from studying under a film professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. His classmates, Joel Guzman and Oscar Deng, were ultimately the two that helped him achieve the film's most complicated shot. According to Walton, many colleagues assisted on the singular shot, all are found credited within the special thanks. 
On its initial release, Walton made sure to explain that the experimental short's narrative was deeply influenced by Raymond Carver's writing, "utilizing subtle continuity errors to hint at the larger commentary embedded within its writing." 
The short was made with one camera, three lenses, on two locations, over the course of several months with no lighting or sound equipment. Joshwa Walton's childhood friend, Barak Dinkel, recorded the score spontaneously with an iPhone. Kyle M. Brown, another childhood friend of the director, appears in the special thanks for helping Dinkel record the songs in better quality, but they were left unused.
Release and reception[edit | edit source]
After the short film was released online, it garnered thousands of views with ranging reactions. Many written reviews, however, praised the short for its thoughtful commentary on alcoholism and depression. 
Fellow underground filmmaker Jake McClain, a colleague of Walton's, wrote that it's a "harrowing look at the psychology of alcoholism... Working with one actor, and very little sound, Walton stretches out the moment's of silence to create an atmosphere of paranoia. Rather than tackling alcoholism as most film makers [sic] do, by showing its slow, destructive process, Walton focuses on the alcoholic's craving; the manner in which alcohol pushes itself to the forefront of the addict's mind." McClain's review of the film has become the singular, most popular interpretation, as it has been seen reiterated by sites devoted to covering this medium. 
Others called A Strange Place an "auteurist psychodrama," claiming it "comes down to a matter of taste... its technical aspects... may say more about its narrative than its own narrative does. Whether that is a good or bad thing: it is up to you." 
W. Napier of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts wrote "Thanks to a nuanced and controlled performance from its cinematographer... A Strange Place hits the mark as a tense and uncomfortable thriller, demanding your attention with every shot." On Walton's work as a first time director: [his] ambition shows through in a layered, yet minimalist, approach, which is a true showcase underscored by the clear collaboration of talent behind (and simultaneously, in front of) the camera."
References[edit | edit source]
- IndieShortsMag Staff (19 September 2018). "A Strange Place is a Haunting Portrayal of an Alcohol Addict". IndieShortsMag.com. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
- T. Manner, ed. (2018). "Student Short Film A Strange Place Finds it Home on Amazon (quoting Joshwa Walton interview from April 2018 The Independent Florida Alligator)". University of Florida. p. 4.
- William Napier, ed. (2018). "Just Watch This Now: The University of Florida's First Student Film A Strange Place". Washington Square News. p. 6.
- UF Faculty (23 February 2018). "Richard Burt". University of Florida. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
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