ⓘ OzLand


ⓘ OzLand

OzLand is a 2014 American science fantasy drama independent film starring Zack Ratkovich and Glenn Payne. It was written and directed by Michael Williams in his feature film debut.

The films story and characters are inspired by and are references to characters and events that appear in L. Frank Baums 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.


1. Plot

1) In a dry and dusty post-apocalyptic world, two wayfarers wander aimlessly until Leif finds a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Using the world around him to interpret what he reads, Leif allows the book to challenge the beliefs, friendship, and even the very survival of these two divergent travelers.

2) Two men, Lief Ratkovich and Emri Payne, wander through the fields and abandoned homes of a post-apocalyptic Kansas searching for food. Lief, the younger of the two and the only one who can read, finds a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and begins to treat the novel as if it were historical nonfiction, using their surroundings as proof. Leif comes to question whether OzLand is "home" as described by Dorothy Gale, while Emri suggests every day is a journey through "home".


2. Release

OzLand held its premiere in Columbus, Mississippi on September 4, 2014, followed by screenings at the Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Oxford Film Festival, Tupelo Film Festival and FestivalSouth Film Expo throughout the following year. It made its theatrical debut in Hollywood on October 16, 2015, followed by its release on internet streaming platforms four days later. It was released to DVD on July 26, 2016. The film made its United Kingdom debut on Flix Premiere on October 4, 2016.

In 2018, the films distribution rights were reverted back to the filmmaker and Shendopen Production, LLC. At this point, the film was re-released on Amazon Prime in the US and UK, Vimeo on Demand Worldwide, and a limited edition Blu-ray release with hours of bonus features and never-before-released content.


3. Critical reception

The film received mixed-to-positive reviews, with critics praising the cinematography, music and directing, while a few criticized the writing. Ryan Jay of Premiere Radio Networks wrote a positive review, saying "It’s brilliant! The story is complete and fulfilling; such an impressive accomplishment. The cinematography is extraordinary and meticulous. It’s shot like it was backed by a major studio with a blockbuster budget."

Jacob Medel of Life in LA wrote that OzLand is rich with detail and powerful character-driven storytelling. Written, produced and directed by Michael Williams, the film is a singular vision that follows Leif and Emri as they travel across a barren wasteland in search of a place to call home."

Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times wrote a mixed review, criticizing the writing but praising the cinematography and music, by writing "The bright, saturated cinematography and minimalist guitar-based score by Keatzi Gunmoney are the greatest strengths of OzLand, but they cant overcome the meandering story and stilted dialogue. The movie - directed, written, produced, shot and edited by Michael Williams - takes what could be an interesting concept for a short film and stretches it across 105 minutes. The ideas are not deep enough and the dramatic tension isnt real enough to sustain this feature."


4. Awards

  • Best Cinematography, FestivalSouth Film Expo 2015
  • Best Feature at Magnolia Independent Film Festival 2015
  • Best Cinematography, Magnolia Independent Film Festival 2015
  • Best of Show, Tupelo Film Festival 2015
  • 1st Place Feature, Tupelo Film Festival 2015
  • Elvin Whitesides Directors Award, Tupelo Film Festival 2015
  • Best Feature Film, Real to Reel Film Festival 2015
  • Best Narrative Feature, Offshoot Film Festival 2015
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