Last year, I had the pleasure of discovering up-and-coming African-American filmmaker Ellis E. Fowler, a promising writer/director with a devotion to bring more African-American and LatinX talent into the sci-fi arena. Fowler's film last year, Emotical, was an ambitious hit-and-miss effort that offered a glimpse at Fowler's promising future and cinematic vision. With his latest short, Anniversary, Fowler has made great strides as a filmmaker and should have no problem seeing the film find a place on the microcinema and indie fest circuit.
Anniversary tells the story of Eric Fuller (Fowler), a young man who has arrived at his wedding day determined to clear his conscience and break things off with his longtime secret lover Sarah (Ester Jiron).
Sarah isn't going to go quietly.
With Emotical, Fowler tried, perhaps too hard, to wrap a story around the film's abundant sci-fi elements. It was an ambitious effort, especially for a low-budget indie, and the final result was a mixed bag.
This time around, it at least appears that Fowler has instead crafted a compelling story and infused the sci-fi elements into its cinematic foundation. This time around, it's about the story and not the sci-fi or technology and, as a result, both the sci-fi elements and technology are infinitely more effective.
Anniversary isn't a story I haven't seen before, but Fowler brings it nicely to life and creates a cohesive, engaging film featuring two engaging performances by Fowler and Jiron who make for a believable couple which helps create the tension needed for a conflicted break-up.
Production quality is effective throughout with Vincent Patin's lensing adding to the film's sci-fi meets real world aura and Fowler's own original music serving as a fine companion to the film's story. While the film's special effects are modestly hindered by the film's budgetary constraints, Fowler uses them nicely and any distraction is secondary to the way that Fowler immerses the visual imagery into the film's involving story.
Already selected as a semi-finalist in the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival, Anniversary has also been submitted to several other indie fests and looks to a lengthy festival run during 2020. The best sci-fi weaves together elements of both fantasy and reality in creating a vision of the world we live in and worlds yet to be discovered. This is the foundation for Ellis E. Fowler's Anniversary, a fictional tale that feels realistic and a sci-fi film that feels as if it could be right around the corner.
Anniversary is also a sign of tremendous growth for Fowler, whose promise continues to show and it'll be exciting to watch Anniversary throughout its festival run and what Fowler comes up with in the future.
For more information on Anniversary, visit the film's official website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic