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Vimeo Short Film of the Week: “Twisted”

Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s we’re taking a weekly look at some of some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Jay Cheel’s ponderous documentary Twisted.

The Plot: Conflicting stories complicate one of cinema’s more entertaining urban legends.

The Film:

You might not realize this, but  Twister was the second-highest grossing film of 1996. Only Independence Day pulled in more Benjamins at the box office that year. While Jan de Bont’s big-budget disaster flick scored big in the ’96 summer movie season, the film got a fortuitous bump late in the year when it unexpectedly bounced back into the news cycle. The reason? As the story goes, patrons of a St. Catherine, Ontario drive-in theater were treated to some real life thrills when an actual tornado tore through a movie screen that happened to be playing, you guessed it, Twister. Twenty years after the chaos, St. Catherine native Jay Cheel set out to document the events that briefly put his hometown in the national spotlight. What he found was that those fateful events may not have actually happened.

Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. Cheel reveals as much in the early moments of his latest documentary Twisted. Rather than focus his film on exposing the potentially distorted facts surrounding the Twister dramatics, Cheel uses the intrigue as a jumping in point for a different sort of drama. At the center of the action are first-hand accounts from citizens who swear they saw the whole thing happen, employees of the Can-View Drive-In who paint a dramatically different picture of the screening in question, a local reporter bent on exposing the truth and a psychologist with some intriguing opinions on how memory works.

As the story unfolds, Cheel deftly blends the facts and fictions of the case, deftly using the gray areas in between to explore the complicated nature of memory itself. What Cheel delivers is a thoughtful, often funny (cue perfectly timed drone-camera crash) deconstruction of an urban legend for the ages. One that should delight viewers whether they remember the legend or not.

Meet The Crew:

Written & Directed by: Jay Cheel  

We hope you enjoy Twisted! And we hope you’re noting Jay Cheel’s name, because he’s quickly becoming a documentarian to watch. Twisted made a big splash on the 2016 festival circuit, landing screenings at Fantastic Fest and Tiff amongst others, but it’s his followup that has many insiders talking. That film is called How To Build A Time Machine, and it marks Cheel’s second feature project (after 2011’s Beauty Day). Look for How To Build A Time Machine to be released some time in the near future. Until then, you can visit Cheel’s Vimeo page to have a look at the film’s trailer and selected scenes.

While you’re kicking around, be sure to check out some of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – team Vimeo has curated for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device … SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting, and you may just stumble across your new favorite filmmaker.

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Patrick Phillips is a Staff Writer for CutPrintFilm, looper.com and geekinsider.com. He reads a lot, drinks too much coffee, buys too many records and loves writing about movies. Find him on Twitter at @savagedetectiv. Follow his movie tastes right here - https://www.taste.io/users/patphiltaste/ratings.

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