Hank and Asha

HankandAsha_01

Editor’s note: Our review of Hank and Asha originally ran long ago during the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it as the film finally opens theatrically this weekend. Narrative gimmicks don’t always draw me in, but when I’m in the middle of watching a bunch of unremarkable festival films and something as original as Hank and Asha comes along, I’m easily seduced. That makes it sound undeserving, though, which isn’t the truth. The film is dominated by an unconventional structure that should in theory quickly become tedious for the viewer and a burden on the story, yet it carries on with great charm and a romantic spirit that’s rarely found at the movies today. It begins with a video message from Asha (Mahira Kakkar), an Indian studying film in Prague, sent to Hank (Andrew Pastides), a New York-based filmmaker whose documentary just screened at a festival she attended. He couldn’t make it, so Asha has decided to reach out for a one-on-one Q&A (presumably via email though we never get the specifics on what platform or network they use to send messages). He replies with a video of his own, and soon they’re digital-age pen pals, sharing everything from personal confessions to whimsical virtual tours of their respective cities in montage form.

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Hank and Asha

If Sundance is the alternative film festival, Slamdance is the alternative to the alternative. We’re proud to be media sponsors for the festival, and to share a few filmmaking spotlights on the movies playing there this year. This first batch is one of intimacy and turning the camera inward. For the documentary Bible Quiz, Nicole Teeny chose to explore a world she grew up in while profiling her brother and his friends in a scripture memorization competition. In Hank and Asha, a pair of lovers communicate by self-shot videos, and director James Duff discusses shooting a love story where the lead actors don’t meet until the end of the shoot. On the other side of the theme, Harry Patramanis discusses his film, Fynbos, and the concept of trying to escape your identity by leaving everything behind. So let’s get uncomfortably close and dig deeper to learn more about these budding filmmakers:

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