FERAL is a powerful examination of one woman's experience with homelessness in NYC with a captivating lead performance by Annapurna Sriram as Yasmine.
The official synopsis reads "[a]t once an examination of loneliness and the masks we wear to face the world, Andrew Wonder's FERAL tells the story of Yasmine, a young woman living in the tunnels underneath Manhattan, struggling to overcome her past as she meets other city dwellers fending for their own lives." There's more to the film than this however, as the story unspools in a series of encounters between Yasmine and strangers. Each one of these characters is lonely or otherwise haunted by something in their past and these encounters play out as unpredictable vignettes.
Annapurna Sriram is absolutely fantastic in this movie as Yasmine, a character of some depth. While she may change her wig or outward behavior, there's a core of Yasmine that you can always pick up on in each her interactions with new people. While we may think we learn something new about Yasmine after each encounter, something from the next encounter may just show us that we don't really know anything about her at all, aside from the fact she is a survivor.
There are some truly impressive underground locales in this film. While I wasn't present at the Sarasota Film Festival, where the film premiered tonight, I'm positive the audience must have asked about how director Andrew Wonder and his crew were able to film in the NYC subway and in those underground passages. The sets looked very authentic and lived-in and the dangerous rumbling of commuter trains was ever present.
Based upon real experiences from accounts shared by some homeless people, director Andrew Wonder and his co-writers Priscilla Kavanaugh and Jason Mendez are able to coalesce them into a compelling narrative. Perspective can be one of the greatest gifts we gain from a film and FERAL is able to show us why a homeless individual may choose to shun a shelter and live on their own terms.
I found FERAL fascinating and it is great to hear the positive word of mouth coming out of the Sarasota Film Festival for this film. I'm sure that it will play some more festivals over the coming months, so make sure to keep it on your short list.
There will be a second screening of Feral at the Sarasota Film Festival tomorrow (Monday, April 8th) at 2:45 PM.