CIFF 2019: A World Away

Frank Lawrence Catania, Rowan Blanchard, Carmen Blanchard, Nathaniel J. Potvin, Daniel Jenks, and Landry Bender in A World Away.

A few eighth graders see their world change in A World Away when an overnight field trip takes them into another dimension.

A quick prologue sets the stage for what’s to come before we find ourselves watching an eighth grade graduation.  It’s here where Principal Garcia (Mary Lynn Rajskub) invites Thomas Landry (David DeLuise) to the stage for a raffle.  A few lucky eighth graders will join him on an overnight trip to the Grand Canyon.  Those lucky students are Zoey (Landry Bender), Jessica (Rowan Blanchard), Henry (Nathaniel J. Potvin), Teddy (Daniel Jenks), and Mateo (Frank Lawrence Catania).

When five incoming high school freshman and the pilot’s daughter, Carmen (Carmen Blanchard), board a plane to the Grand Canyon, none could predict what happens next.  Sure enough, they don’t reach their final destination of the American landmark.  Instead, their plane takes quite the detour.  If you’re thinking that we’re not on earth anymore, you’d be correct!  Together, the six kids are going to have to grow up really quick if they want to make it back home.

Carmen’s necklace was passed down from her grandmother.  Little does she know that this necklace is very powerful.  It’s not actually a normal stone in every sense of the word.  Instead, it’s the all-powerful “Source.”  It’s powerful enough to power a ship!  I can see how easy it could be for someone to say that the “Source” rips off the Star Wars franchise.  More to the point, we get dialogue such as “Trust the Source.  Let it guide you.”  Or how people can see the future.  But I digress.  These six children are on a different adventure that doesn’t include Jedi or Sith.  There is the Evil Queen (Alexa Khan) chasing after the Source but we don’t really see much of her to tell you the truth.

The other thing about this film is that it’s a Blanchard family affair.  The film is directed and co-written by Mark Blanchard and stars daughters Rowan Blanchard and Carmen Blanchard.  It’s the feature debut for Carmen.  The sisters look similar so we do have to suspend some disbelief with their characters not being related to each other.  This being said, it doesn’t take away from the film’s entertainment value.

While the film’s run time is pretty short as just over 70 minutes, A World Away is a film that the family can enjoy.

DIRECTOR:  Mark Blanchard
SCREENWRITERS:  Patrick McEveety and Mark Blanchard
CAST:  Rowan Blanchard, Caroline Lagerfelt, David DeLuise, Nadine Velazquez, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Julian Grey, and introducing Carmen Blanchard

A World Away screened during the 2019 Chicago Independent Film Festival. Grade: 3.5/5

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.