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(Stefanie Sparks’ In Case of Emergency was Opening Night film of the 2017 Bushwick Film Festival and became available VOD (iTunes & Amazon) July 24th, 2018.)

In Case of Emergency  harkens back to a time when indie films were actually indie; a spirit of creative grittiness that showcases raw talent and introduces a director bound for legend. The film explores female discontent, wrestling with an all too familiar set of expectations but through a fresh lens of twisted bodily humor and Millennial trappings. The piercingly perfect soundtrack of fed-up riot girls (Screaming Females, Girlpool, Childbirth) announces scene after scene dripping with superb comic timing.

Atop her throne at a woman’s lifestyle mag, Sarah (writer and director Stefanie Sparks) desperately wants to be accepted by the NYC socialite scene- the three Ps (pink, pearls and pumps) her guiding light. Luckily, she’s well-engaged, surrounded by supportive friends and driven to conceive a Manhattanite child into the prep school world: she will win the Golden Uterus award bequeathed to the most ambitious mother. When she gets hit by a taxi, the facade of her perfect life slowly begins to break away. In her time of makeupless need she befriends Melinda (Jenni Ruiza), an ignored co-worker who embodies a different city lifestyle: late night stand-up stages, flannel, pizza. Despite their differences, both women are trying to resolve who they are and who they want to be amidst the feminine ideals of a strange & ruthless city. Their self-exploration takes on women’s issues with humor, heart- and in one scene even diarrhea!- slyly questioning norms with the resounding laughter of female unrest.

The film’s low-budget quality makes for scenes that are wildly different in feel, shifts that should be distracting but that are glossed over with the help of a steady comic hand. The set-ups created result in an onslaught of punchlines, delivered by a roster of emerging feminine cliches- the pouty-pregnant selfie taker, the vulgar stand-up comic. ICOE’s strength lies in its slate of killer comediennes, with a lineup running from the familiar (Dope Queen Phoebe Robinson, classic character actor/Orange is the New Black regular Catherine Curtin) to the not-so-familiar (UCB Theatre’s Lily Du cast as a vintage store clerk whose spacy assertions are acerbic, thoughtless and f*cking hilarious). The actors in this film are obviously doing what they love to do as they acutely reflect a world of faltering reality; each frame exudes an edgy core of truth and determination that feels like it extends far beyond the film.

In Case of Emergency is the type of renegade movie where one isn’t entirely sure if the camera is allowed to be filming where it is filming, or if a character is going to produce something vile at any moment- in word form or worse. This feeling of unease makes for a thrilling watch that vomits in the face of the sterile indies and rule-driven blockbusters saturating cinemas. But the film isn’t only a DIY feat, the story of the power in female friendship ICOE upholds is equally as thrilling to witness. The rough edges of the film expose the rough edges of life as a woman and, as with life, it is the imperfections, ingenuity, relationships and cursing that make things a little bit stronger: together we can get sh*t done.

– Donna K. (@TeamDonnaK)

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