This was such a quirky and fun short. I loved every second of it. The longer it went on, the more bizarre it got. I can easily see why it’s received so much love from the festival circuit.
The characters were both eerily odd and lovable. However, Olive (Sarah Bartholomew) just takes the cake – she’s one eccentric ball of crazy. I adore her enthusiasm for cooking even though some of her obsession is a bit strange and extreme. Her eyes light up with passion whenever she talks about food or is preparing a new meal.
Meanwhile, Roger (Luke Baines) entertains her crazy and indulges in her passions, despite knowing it’s nothing healthy in any way. It’s awkward but sweet.
The end was wickedly insane and totally threw me off! I expected something bizarre to happen, but not quite like that. It was a bloody fun time for those who love dark humor and unexpected twists.
I love characters that stand out from the typical cookie cutter, stereotypical ones we often see in films. Roger and Olive are anything but normal and it’s a refreshing treat. Waste is a deliciously disturbing good time, so be sure to check it out when you can!
Ghastly Grinning - 2018 Review
“The pig was always pork.”
This beautiful film couldn’t seem to decide if it wanted to win an award for best gross-outs or best cinematography, so in the end, it did both. This movie made my hair stand on end all through Wes Anderson-esque precision and grace. This film poked at my (minor) meat-eaters guilt through its beautiful framing and brilliant design, as I found myself wanting to gorge myself on its plot--I want of these characters! Marked by brilliant performances from both leads, I honestly couldn’t decide whether I wanted to cry or throw up when it ended. In the end, I did both!
I have this weird feeling that this short film will stick with me for a while. It asks a lot of interesting questions (“Pig to pork. When does the change happen? In death it’s a dead pig, but at the market it’s a pork product. When does the transformation occur?”) and wrestled with the distinction between alive and dead, animal and meat. It was equally adorable and deranged, cute and psycho.The set design and filming locations were stunning (the LA DWP in Downtown!) and although I wouldn’t label it a classic ‘horror’ film, it’s sparks the kind of uneasiness and neurotic tension that has potential for real long-term effect. Very much bravo, very much.
Interview with writer, director and producer Justine Raczkiewicz
"IFS Festival" "Best Short Film" Award Winner
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you for your interest in the film! I’ve been working as a producer in the film industry for the last 7 years, but have been itching to direct for a long time. It wasn’t until I came across Amelia Gray’s short story “WASTE” that I found material which really resonated with me and struck a chord. The story was bizarre, darkly comedic, genre-defying, profound and weird at the same time. Every time I re-read it I found a new hidden layer of meaning and it really dug into my subconscious. It also had an incredible female role at it’s heart.
Olive’s character drew me in as the unassuming girl next door, who is quirky and open-minded—but to a fault. I could relate to her fascination with “other” cultures, and found the power dynamic between her and her neighbor Roger to be an interesting reversal of roles that plays into our fantasies and fears revolving around transgressive desires.
At first I thought I was making a love story, but digging deeper, the film is really an absurdist tale about the dangers of consumption. which questions how far you will go to satiate your curiosity, how far you will go for love. Olive’s curiosity is like our culture’s insatiable obsession with the new. She’s on a quest for meaning, transcendence and yet also “authenticity” – the catch phrase of our millennial generation. But when there is nothing left to consume, where else can one turn to, but oneself?
Imagine I'm a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
All animals eat, but we are the only animal that cooks, and cooking is a symbol of our humanity. And yet with the advent of the “foodie” movement – what should be a natural process has become perverted, manipulated and aestheticized. The film touches on the fad of extreme foodie-ism and the culinary quest for the forbidden that has spread across the world, particularly in California. It also represents a disconnect from reality, and this imperialist nostalgia we have of yearning for what Western culture has destroyed. On another note, if you like Wes Anderson, Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Cronenberg and Yorgos Lanthimos, I think you might like Waste.
The film is misleadingly beautiful, thanks to our cinematographer Martim Vian, production designer, Robert Brecko and costume designer Alexis Johnson. It’s heightened, humorous, nostalgic and deadpan. But it morphs into something a little more sinister and provocative towards the end. If you have an open mind and like to be surprised, then you’ll enjoy the ride.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Growing up in post-war, post-Soviet Poland had a profound influence on who I became today, both on a personal and on an aesthetic level. I was incredibly lucky to be in a country which was opening its borders and its market to an influx of new ideas and change, but we moved from isolation to expansion to consumerism.
Having grown up in a meat eating culture, a carnivorous diet was standard, and implicitly reflected virility, strength and patriarchal attitudes. It wasn’t until I read Amelia’s story that a memory returned from the first time I went to a slaughterhouse at the young age of 12. The mechanized assembly chains, the electrocution devices that zapped animals to their instantaneous death, and the endless rows of suspended carcasses left a mark in my mind. There was something about the detachment and mechanized relation to the natural world, that I understood as a child was problematic, and that didn’t resurface until I moved to Los Angeles.
Olive’s character is grappling with her female identity and is on a discovery quest to find meaning, but can do so only through consumption. Her hunger to experience and know everything, to break past barriers and taboos ironically only leads to her own objectification. The themes of temptation and destruction, man against nature, and love and sacrifice all appear in the film. As a director, I am fascinated by the mythologies we are taught to live by, and want to challenge them. I think absurdist stories show us the contradictory nature of our existence and help us explore them. Horror can also tackle metaphysical ideas, provide sublimation and free the repressed consciousness. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script is a faithful rendition of the short story, but it had to be adapted to the locations I could find, which then in turn inspired new scenes, additions and character developments, so there was a feedback loop.
I’m a very visual person, and created a lookbook early on in the writing process with imagery that inspired me for the production design, costumes, and cinematography. This was one of the most important elements that I would return to over and over again as a reference point with my team. The same goes for music – I had a playlist of songs that worked as a moodboard to help create the right tone which was incredibly invaluable and helped fuse all the different elements together. That said, there were many happy discoveries with stock footage and source music in the edit room, thanks to my editor Oliver Harwood who is brilliant, and has a wicked sense of humor.
Also as I saw the characters and their environment slowly come to life, new nuanced meanings kept manifesting. Sometimes Robert Brecko, my production designer or Martim Vian my cinematographer would have an interesting reading or take I hadn’t considered before, which I would then incorporate and give a new spin to the story. Those joyful discoveries made for a true collaboration and a most rewarding process.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I hope to reach a wider audience and connect with people I otherwise would not have have the opportunity to meet.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
All the above! I am also developing a longer form series from the short film – so I’d love to meet with any interested production companies and financiers.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would love for audiences to look at their consumption habits through a different lens, to become more aware of their consumer choices and how they shape their identity.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What does it mean to live in a free society, and how do we define liberty? Is self-expression tied to consumption? What are the limits of your own curiousity and how do you view other culture’s taboos?
Would you like to add anything else?
Follow us online!
Also, here’s a quote from chef, David Kinch to leave you with: “The best fine dining is delicious, usually something you haven’t seen before, and thought- provoking. it’s more than just sustenance, you’re eating ideas”
Interview: April 2017