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Fenced Off Debuts at Cincinnati Film Festival

There is nothing sweeter than the sound of the words “the world premier of”. Rebel Pilgrim and Vineyard Productions’ latest film, Fenced Off, debuted this past weekend at the second annual Cincinnati film festival. Judging from the audience reaction, Fenced Off may have a bright future.

Before I go on, I must make a full disclosure. I shot the behind-the scenes footage and interviews for the film. Also, most of the people who worked on the movie are my personal friends. With that said, Fenced Off is an amazing film, considering it was shot in just 12 days with a budget of under $13,000. That’s quite an accomplishment.

But the miracle is - Fenced Off is a totally watchable film. It’s a testament to the hard work of writer/director, Brad Wise, and assistant director/writer, Isaac Stambaugh. I’ve seen films with significantly higher budgets that cannot compete with Fenced Off. Hats off to Jim Heartman, who composed the sound track for the film. His soundtrack absolutely made the movie. Most low-budget features suffer in sound quality and usable audio. Thanks to sound mixer Ryan Putz, this is not an issue with Fenced Off. Dialogue is clean and totally understandable and in a word, impressive. Shot composition and cinematography are well within acceptable standards of motion picture production.

I’m not saying that Fenced In is a perfect movie. It does have some issues. The film has no real antagonist and offers little or no perceived danger, therefore nothing seems to be at stake for any of the main characters. The writing could have been a little bit tighter and, perhaps, the boundaries and issues the film was exploring could have been pushed a bit further. And the film dragged a bit in the middle. A couple more twists and turns and surprises would have been a nice addition.

The story itself is based on true events and is an excellent premise for a feature film. Fenced Off dives into perceived and imaginary racial prejudice. Without giving too much of the story away, Josh, played by New York actor, Joshua Zirger, is a twenty something idealist social worker who moves into a predominately African American community. George (Reggie Willis) is the 50 something recently retired next door neighbor who is giving Josh the cold shoulder.

Josh discovers a strange package in his back yard, which complicates the relationship with George. Suddenly Josh’s imagination gets the best of him. Did he make a mistake moving here? Is he as enlightened as he believes? Is he prejudiced? Why does George just want to be left alone? Is racism a two-way street? As you can see, Fenced Off has plenty of material to work with. It is an intriguing character study of George and Josh. Adding a voice of reason is George’s wife, Tia, played by Whitney Cornelius, who is trying to keep the situation from escalating out of control.

Although Fenced Off features mostly unknown actors, they do an outstanding job of portraying their characters, especially Reggie Willis. Great casting and directing also adds to the overall entertainment value.

So, I’m sure you’re asking yourself where you can see Fenced Off? At this time, distribution plans have not been finalize. However, executive producer, Joe Boyd, said at the premier that he is looking into a TV deal, along with a Netflix digital download. A DVD release is planned at a later time. I will keep you updated as to when Fenced Off becomes available.

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