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It’s that time of the year. All the presents have been unwrapped, and now we can shift focus to New Year’s and awards season. The Golden Globe nominees have been announced, most of the critic circles have released their award winners and the Oscar nominations are just around the corner. So now that the 2016 is closing it’s doors it’s time to reveal our favorite films from an incredible year. Throughout this week we will be unveiling our various lists of the best and worst from 2016 and today we begin with our official “Best of the Fest” list. Bro Knows had the opportunity to attend a few film festivals this year, and catch a whole lot of incredible films as a result. Unfortunately, pretty much all of the films on this list are not yet available to the general movie going public, but they all should be at some point in 2017, so make sure to keep an eye out. This list is comprised of the best of the best, whether that’s short films or features, from the film festivals we’ve had the honor of covering this past year. Without further delay, we here at Bro Knows bring you the first Best of” list. This is the top 10 best film festival entries of 2016.

10) Do You See What I See? (Short Film, Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Fest)

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This was one of many short films we had an opportunity to see this year, and it was easily one of the best. A bit of a genre bender, This short manages to meld sci-fi and horror elements to provide an innovative story premise that delivers excitement, scares, and an awesome twist that you have to see to believe. The good news is that this gem is currently available to watch on YouTube, and at just under 15 minutes long, there is no excuse not to click and enjoy.

Director(s): Justin McConnell,  Serena Whitney

Starring:  Caleigh Le Grand,  Jorja Cadence,  Adam Buller


9) Tony Conrad: Completely in The Present (Documentary, Buffalo International Film Fest)

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This is a brilliant and vibrant documentary that follows the wizard of avant garde minimalism music. This unique vision of a man, with an even more unique vision, is a story that deserved to be told, and director Tyler Hubby tells an engaging story of an incredible artist who played by his own rules, and lived life to the fullest. Check out our official review of this film on any one of our social media outlets, and keep an eye out for this doc in 2017, it’s an incredible experience.

Director: Tyler Hubby

Starring:  John Cale,  Tony Conrad,  David Grubbs


8) #Screamers (Feature, Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Fest)

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This is an incredible take on a washed out genre. Found footage has been overrun with undeniably awful entries because it’s so cheap to make. #Screamers is anything but cheap, and is a slow burn that takes it’s time to really develop its characters, then utilizes an intensely creepy backdrop with some cool real life folk lore that ratchets up the scares culminating in an amazing climax. Check out our official review for #Screamers on any of our social media or check out our entire review guide from the Buffalo Dreams.

Director: Dean Matthew Ronalds

Starring:  Chris Bannow,  Emanuela Galliussi,  Tom Malloy


7) The Kidnapping of a Fish (Short Film, Buffalo International Film Fest)

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As far as short films go, this is probably the most high concept you will get. The production value is expert level, and everything from the writing and direction to the performances are top notch. This is a brilliant short film that serves as an excellent proof of concept to a potential feature. Mixing together heartfelt emotion with some decent action sequences, and a whole lot of laughs, The Kidnapping of a Fish is easily one of the best short films you’re likely to come across.

Director: Philip A. Ramos

Starring:  Stephen Friedrich,  Theodora Miranne,  Vasile Flutur


6) Shortwave (Feature, Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Fest)

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If you’re looking for the perfect blend of scifi and horror, then look no further. Shortwave is a visceral and deeply disturbing film with an atmosphere that leaches itself to you and never lets up. Dealing in Lovecraftian metaphors and a scientific authenticity that only add to the depth, this is an incredibly tense and thrilling story that will leave you in a cold sweat. This is the type of film that deserves major distribution and hopefully 2017 will bring big things to director Ryan Gregory Phillips.

Director: Ryan Gregory Phillips

Starring:  Cristobal Tapia Montt,  Katie Carthen,  Kyle Davis


5) Lovesong (Feature, Buffalo International Film Fest)

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A film that is both beautifully understated yet emotionally riveting. Able to contextualize an emotional history from two perspectives, director So Yong Kim strips away any gloss, and cuts right to the heart of this story. Steeped in realism, Lovesong is a frustratingly delicate story of love and diversion, and how the line between friendship can be blurred from raw passion. This is an incredibly nuanced character study surrounding relationships and the importance of friendship. With some of the most enchantingly profound performances, Lovesong is a bold film that lives in this world, where life carries on uncomfortably, separate from how we envision it at times.

Director:  So Yong Kim

Starring:  Jena Malone,  Jessie Ok Gray,  Riley Keough


4) The Runner (Short Film, Buffalo International Film Festival)

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This films hits close to home, literally. Shot in Buffalo, this is a poetic narrative that elects to cut out dialogue and reveal itself entirely through the majesty of its imagery. Director Justin Berardi showcases some brilliant decision making, and the cityscapes and sweeping shots capture the city of Buffalo’s beauty with nuance and care.

Director: Justin Berardi

Starring:  Jonathan West,  Marie Hasselback-Costa,  Ethan Fuhr


3) Tower (Documentary, Buffalo International Film Festival

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This is a documentary that provides an innovative structure with cartoon visual reenactments that help provide some levity given the grim subject matter at hand. Tower bridges the gap from past to present with haunting first hand interviews and mixed media narrative that becomes a groundbreaking and even hallucinogenic yet intense depiction of real life horror.

Director: Keith Maitland

Starring:  Violett Beane,  Louie Arnette,  Blair Jackson


2) Tonight She Comes (Feature, Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Fest)

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This is an unrelenting mad house of blood and sex and it’s perfect for genre audiences. This is the complete horror film that beckons to the classics of cult genre films and is sure to be the breakout project for up and coming filmmaker Matt Stuertz. Tonight She Comes is a non stop thrill ride of full blown mayhem that will leave you queasy and uncomfortable, yet clamoring for more. No news on distribution for the film yet, but this is a no brainer for a limited release and VOD run in 2017.

Director: Matt Stuertz

Starring:  Adam Hartley,  Jenna McDonald,  Frankie Ray


1) The Return (Feature, Buffalo International Film Fest)

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This is one of the best noir’s in the past decade. This has shades of early Nolan and Shane Black, and what’s even more impressive is that it was filmmaker Oliver Nias’ first feature. The Return is shrouded in uncertainty which molds a story about the perils of deceit and what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a lie. For a film with a monochromatic color scheme, it’s amazing how aesthetically vibrant the visuals are. Everything from structure, to the brilliant performances push this into the upper echelon of thrillers. Technically The Return did not have an official 2016 release otherwise it may have crept into the Bro Knows top 20 films of 2016, but since it only hit festivals with a likely release in 2017, it did not qualify. So keep an eye out for The Return, and for budding superstar director, Oliver Nias, in the next year. Also, check out our full review for The Return.

Director: Oliver Nias

Starring:  Amie Burns Walker,  Sam Donnelly,  David Elliot

That’ll do it for our very first year end list of the best of the best. Check out our top 20 worst/most overrated films of 2016 later this week, and then the Top 20 best films of 2016 shortly after. Then join us after the new year where we hope to do some housekeeping that will help us enhance your experience with us! Drop a comment and let us know what you think of our list in the meantime.

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