Slamdance 2019: Spiral Farm

Piper De Palma in Spiral Farm.

Spiral Farm‘s indie film budget may constrain the filmmaking decisions by writer-director Alec Tibaldi but doesn’t take away from the film.

Anahita (Piper de Palma), a teenager, lives on this Southern California commune that looks like it was taken out of the 1960s.  Everyone in this commune has to work together in order to survive on the farm.  Anahita’s dreams of being a professional dancer keep tugging at her.  Even though the farm has been her life since the beginning of time, she wants nothing more than to make her dreams happen.  What’s stopping her?  Her nephew, Ocean (Landen Beattie), for one.  Because of how much she cares for him, she’s unable to make the next move.

Meanwhile, there’s a side to Anahita that she absolutely refuses to explore because of childhood experiences: her sexuality.  Nobody could blame her for repressing after what she went through.  Her own mother, Dianic, (Amanda Plummer) finds her to be bashful.  This makes her somewhat of an outcast within a community that values one’s expression of their sexuality.

Things change when Theo (Teo Halm) enters the picture.  No matter how much she wants to repress things feelings, it’s seemingly impossible.  Theo’s dad, Maurizio (Cosimo Fusco), just happens to be Dianic’s ex-boyfriend.  Anyway, While Theo helps nudge Anahita in the right direction, she is ultimately her own person and in charge of her own fate.

This is a film that could honestly be set anywhere given the family aspect.  The main difference that comes with the commune setting are what responsibilities belong to which people.  Sure, this film could very well be set at a neighborhood in the middle of nowhere but it wouldn’t be the same.  Regardless, Anahita has a dream but she has to be able to get herself to where she needs to be in order to achieve it.

Piper de Palma’s performance in Spiral Farm shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  For added context, her father is Scarface director Brian de Palma.  After appearing in two short films, Spiral Farm serves as her feature debut.  The actress manages to hold her own against the screen presence of Halm and Plummer.

Writer-director Alec Tibaldi realizes that having a small budget means only being able to do so much.  Tangerine director Sean Baker is a similar filmmaker when it comes to being able to tell a story with a very limited budget.  In spite of the small indie film budget, Spiral Farm doesn’t sacrifice its own production value.  Tibaldi isn’t the first filmmaker to do this nor will he be the last.

CAST:  Piper de Palma, Jade Fusco, Teo Halm, Cosimo Fusco, Landen Beattie, Akuyoe Graham, Kayleigh Gilbert, with Amanda Plummer

Spiral Farm screens during the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival in the Narrative Features program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.