Naples International Film Festival Review: Long December

Naples International Film Festival Review: Long December
Stephen Williams (of the band Jude Moses) stars as G-abe in Thomas Torrey’s narrative feature film, Long December. It recently had its world premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival and is now on the way to having the Florida Premiere at the Naples International Film Festival this week (October 27 – 28). The film is the second feature from filmmaker Thomas Torrey (Fare) and stars platinum-selling artist John Mark McMillan. Both he and Williams provided original songs written for the film, which features live on-camera performances by director of photography Christopher Calnin from noteworthy Americana music artists Margolnick and Sarah DeShields.

About: Long December is a character-driven drama about a struggling artist who pursues his dream of music during one December month.

This one-line description of the film caught my attention as Austin has been known for the live music scene for the past few decades. Austin is home to the SXSW Music Festival, which began many years ago and has grown into the SXSW Film & Television Festival and more. The music festival I have attended since the 1990s has always drawn all talent to the city to be seen and heard. Even if a musician or band did not have an “official” SXSW showcase slot at the festival, many artists found their way to the city, and they were willing to play “for exposure” on any stage (or restaurant) in town. Many of these musicians were indeed struggling, with little money, no vehicle, or a place to stay.

In this script, Gabe (Williams) has talent and gigs locally, but perhaps not what he had envisioned for himself to make a living to support his partner and their infant son. She is supportive of his pursuing a career in the craft he loves. He appears content with his life but always yearns for more artistically. As we have seen in many films before, “breaking into” the music industry is not as easy as it may seem from the outside. I have personally heard many stories relayed to me about the difficulties. The story about Gabe is not so gloomy and pessimistic, showing the pitfalls of what is asked of an individual to get recognized or garner the attention needed to become the next big star.

He has some fans and followers, but not at the level of notoriety. On the other hand, his cousin Darren Knight (artist John Mark McMillan) did find some fame and fortune. As his tour is winding down, he invites Gabe to perform one show of the tour. Who wouldn’t be exhilarated by an offer like that? But what, if anything, does that mean for his career? His family and future?

Maybe it grows into something, but Gabe’s story is similar to many of ours. We have a passion for pursuing a craft (or something else) that we have dreamed of for so long. Everyone’s struggles are different yet similar in some ways. Watching Gabe and his family navigate this in their lives is enjoyable, if not encouraging, to others who pursue life in the arts. It is suitable for the soul.

The cast also includes Emily Althaus as Jamie, Charley Koontz, and Maximiliano Hernández, among others.

MPAA Rating: NR, Running Time: 80 minutes. Music Executive Producer & Composer: Kevin Dailey

Source: Visit Films, A Bad Theology & Caravan Production in Association with Witchcraft Motion Picture Company

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