Thursday, October 29, 2009
It's not really a revelation, but having watched films of all caliber this past week, really makes me think about how important it seems to be to the human spirit to tell our stories. In fact, I'm telling my story through blogging about other people's stories.
I only saw two films I would recommend to Philadelphia Cinema Alliance for CineFest, but it was great just being in the atmosphere of the festival, building my courage to talk to more and more filmmakers and attendees and trying to do timely posts. Next time that will be a little easier, when my time is devoted to whatever Film Fest I'm attending.
But I'm not complaining, cause I had a great week crashing at my sister, Lauren's and my dear friends Heather, Emily and Phil's apartments - "Thank you" for all your hospitality, support and fun!
The Row House Ghost (27 min) Director: Dom Hilton (USA)
The Rowhouse Ghosts is not a horror movie. Living among us is an invisible population who themselves are haunted by abuse. Single mothers and children are the fastest growing homeless population. This film goes inside Project Rainbow Women's shelter to see how a unique combination of housing solutions and psychoanalytic intervention help some of these women and children.
I didn't find any new story being told here, but I admire those interested in creating quality of life for those in hardship.
Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within (29 min) Director:Pascale Bourgaux (Belgium/France) Every year, around 3000 American women soldiers claim to be victims of sexual harassment and rapes. The aggressors are not Iraqis or Afghans, but American soldiers! The measures taken by the Pentagon aren't efficient: less than 10% of these aggressors are sent to Military Court. In this film, victims and their families give their testimony and protest against silence and impunity.
The statistics of this crime is more than alarming, but in terms of a documentary, the quality of this film is far too crudely made to be effective in really getting people to pay attention and listen to the stories of these women and what they've endured while trying to serve their country.
Resting Places (48 min) Director: Melissa Villanueva (pictured)& J. Michael Kipikash (USA) A global phenomenon is spreading. Opponents want it stopped. Oscar nominated actor Liam Neeson narrates this thought-provoking documentary about the growing controversy surrounding roadside memorials throughout the world.
This doc has polish and tone, as you would imagine anything associated with Liam Neeson. It's hard to miss roadside memorials of crosses, stuffed animals, cards, flowers and assorted personal effects in spots where someone has lost their life. However, I never thought about it being a controversy; that these markers could violate the Separation of Church and State Amendment. Or that some people find these "Descansos" to be a morbid fascination, mocking them on a website, or taking photos for a coffee table book. I thought the filmmaker(s) created a nice build up of going back to interviews with this one lawyer who is adamantly fighting to have roadside memorials declared illegal. As the documentary progresses, we find out, ironically, he himself lost his young son to a car accident along the highway.
My Father's Son (27 min) Director: Joseph Springfield (USA)
In this film domestic violence runs through the perfect pictured family until their secrets are unfolded in one day. Cast: Joseph Springfield, Tyshaun Boone, Glenn Fleary, Kymbali Craig and Rahkiah Clark.
I didn't see this film, but it had a lot of buzz and a good size audience. After seeing Precious last week, I just wasn't in the mood for any more domestic violence.
Ripples (103min) Director: Marc Williams (pictured) (USA)
Eight people change each other's lives for better and worse over the course of a year.
I was supposed to see this film, but they announced the screenings were running 50 min behind schedule; so I decided to sneak into one of the wide release movies playing downstairs in the theater. I happened upon the beginning of Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying, which was cute, for free, it was entertaining enough that I didn't leave after 50 min to rejoin the festival.
(Pictured) One of the filmmakers for the trailer Rock Heist
Sometimes Virtual (96min) Director: Ramin Labastchi (Canada) An urgent letter from Amir compels Kevin to risk his life to seek out his best friend whom he believed to be dead. The journey takes Kevin from Canada across the sea to the breathtaking deserts and mountains of Iran. While Kevin believes it is he who has set out to rescue Amir, ultimately it is Amir who becomes Kevin's savior and helps him to experience the potential harmony between the physical and spiritual, heart and mind, finite and infinite.
I was looking forward to seeing this one, but the filmmaker didn't care enough to deliver his film to the theater in time, so NIIFVF canceled his screening, which forced me to have to see...
The Life and Time of Hans Peter Elmar Hansen (122min) Director: David Brink (pictured top of page) (USA) The story of an ordinary man who lived in an extraordinary time. No generation has and no generation will likely witness the across the board technological changes he witnessed in his lifetime.
The screening of this doc consisted of me and two other people in the theater besides the filmmaker. If you have a Centenarian in your family, it's a wonderful thing to document the person's life, especially if they can still give an interview at that incredible age, however, what then do you do with this documentation?
Better Than Chocolate (14:09 min) Director: Margaux Dillet (Bahamas)
Theresa, who is single and looking with help of her best friend Melissa, prides herself on knowing what she wants but after a conversation with a new male suitor, Jermaine, about her love of chocolate ice cream, she finds that she is not as open to change as she thought she was.
This film was better than what followed it...
Money Palava (90 min) Director: Ora Melie (USA)
Out of Africa comes a dramatic, epic story about immigrant life in the greater New York culturally diverse, metropolis. A father's desire that his daughter marry, a daughter's dilemma and decision to make out in love and marriage.
Shooting God (112 min) Director: Scott Synder (USA)
College student, Stewart Goldman, meets an eccentric professor who mysteriously knows a great deal about her. As she attempts to learn how he knows so much, Stewart embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
So much of this movie was convincing that the writer/director had a real experience of God, like a Mystic writer of old. The leads, Leslie Seidel (pictured) and Justin Solonynka, who also wrote original music for the film, are novice actors with a lot of natural potential and up and coming talent. Leslie was about to fill me in on the death of Scott Synder shortly after the wrapping of this film in 2005, when another filmmaker pulled me away because his short was finally going to screen at 11:36pm. That short was...
Greetings (5:13 min) Director: Joe Pearman, Creators: Jason Zeller and Mike Ayllon (pictured) Aliens "Manny" and "Bernice" are lost in space. They almost crash land on Earth and decide to ask an "Earthling" for directions.
This 3-D Animated short was worth the wait! Both the wait for me to stick around to see its nearly midnight screening and the 3 year wait it took for these filmmakers to complete this innovative animation technology. The short has a clever concept of aliens landing on earth only to encounter a snowman as their first signs of life. Problem being, this snowman is not about to shout out "Happy Birthday", or is he?
So that's my New York Independent Film & Video Festival Wrap Up, if anyone reading this was in attendance for the closing night party at Hudson Terrace (621 W 46th Street) and would like to make a comment, please do so, if you have pictures, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Now I have a few short months to work on getting a press pass for Sundance!