Nice People at NYCITFF

Nice People at NYCITFFScore 65%

Photo Credit Ian Carlsen

Score 65%

By Kendra Jones

Nice People, directed by Jeff Griecci and written by Ian Carlsen, is essentially five shorts taped together to shape a feature. Shot over five years, over only a few weekends in Maine, a large, diverse cast invites the audience into embarrassing, awkward, heartfelt, questioning, and dark moments.

Five short vignettes drop the viewer into this town in Maine,;we know what’s happening, and then we are removed as quickly as we enter. We’re moved onto the next story. Each of these stories achieve this celerity, but I had tremendous difficulty connecting these five stories, considering just how they could all function together. I saw a very thin connective tissue as we were whisked from one to the next. While a couple of these vignettes make evident the “nice people” part: people thinking they’re doing the right thing but not necessarily meaning they actually are–others do not.

Old lovers, once married, now divorced, meet at a local establishment for drinks—the woman finds out her ex now earns money from online subscribers. She doesn’t believe him until she is in his house, watching him kneel on the bed, removing his shirt and rubbing a feather down his torso to online viewers as the tips pour in. She’s later confronted as their grown son enters the house announcing that she and her ex-husband will be grandparents, before he questions why his mother is not wearing a shirt.

Lesedi, a young woman is house hunting, and her white friend who tagged along with her to showings, confronts her after exiting a showing on a negative note. She says Lesedi is being too forceful, asking too many questions; we watch a close friendship quickly become strained. A puppeteer appears in the park with Lesedi as this vignette comes to an end–he will appear again in a later vignette.

Shane, going through a difficult time: a transition and strained relationship with their father. They are about to see their father after seemingly many years apart. A man hits a cat and tries to find its owner to both admit his accident and return the corpse to its loved one. The man is led to Shane’s house, suspecting it is their cat. Shane finds themselves in a music gathering for LGBTQ+, expecting their father to arrive, with a cat seeping bodily fluids inside a paper bag.

A woman and young daughter (granddaughter?) pick up a runaway along the road, traveling towards Canada. The young girl believes it right to pick up this man (the same man from Lesedi’s story), but the older woman questions the safety and rightness of this decision.

The last vignette, focusing on the relationship between two men, Zed and Larry, working at a fish factory, did the most work for the feature. During the Q&A session following the screening, the audience learns that this was indeed the portion of the film that was granted the most time spent with the script—and it shows. Zed and Larry’s relationship is complex: one steeped in work and the social life of working in such a place—what emplyees can get away with, versus what external forces allowing one to get away with. Larry’s unfortunate work accident and death prompted Zed to spiral, as expected, and without shame.

We see Zed at a bar, imagining Larry alive and drunk next to him, swaying to music, encouraging Zed to visit a woman who he believes he is in love with. Zed shuts down the bar, has a tussle with Larry outside, and we see Larry in the car with Zed. This scene is steeped in the darkness of being under the influence coupled with not yet believing his best friend is dead. We feel sorry for Zed–the first character I felt connected to within this feature–the first character we are allowed to enter and hold onto for more than just a moment of understanding.

Directed by Jeff Griecci; Written by Ian Carlsen.

Featuring: Brent Askari, Grace Bauer, Tadin Jeongshin Brego, Titi de Baccarat, Lala Drew, Maiya Koloski, William Paul Steele, Michael Thomas Toth, Marjolaine Whittlesey.

The 2024 NYCITFF was held at the Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at the A.R.T./New York Theatres from February 15 – 18, 2024.

NYCIFF illuminates theatre artists with film, the NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival. The festival was founded by Marc Weitz and co-produced and programmed by Allyson Morgan, presenting work from independent theatre artists defying labels and branching out into film, TV and digital media. Founded in 2017 as a program of New Ohio Theatre, the NYCITFF screens narratives, documentaries, shorts, features, dance, experimental, webisodes and everything in between.



Nice People

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