Well I ended up skipping Walking to Werner last night, figuring it might be brought back at some point while a Jeanne Dielman screening is too rare to pass up. So let’s hope Walking to Werner comes back. And if anyone else out there saw it, please let me know what you thought. It seemed to have the potential to be ridiculously self-indulgent and irritating (and probably full of shakycam) so maybe I didn’t miss much.
As for the rest of the screenings–I’d still say LOL was the best in the festival, and among the others I saw, In Between Days was a runner-up. It did make me a little nauseous with the shakycam, but I loved the simple storyline of a teenage Korean girl’s quasi-unrequited crush on her male best friend, as well as getting a peek into the world of first-generation Korean immigrants moving about in their own subculture in America. Barely a word of English in the film, and it takes some time to even realize where they are.
Another favorite was Arctic Son, a documentary about a man living in tough terrain in the Yukon who brings his teenage son to live with him in an attempt to get him off drugs and alcohol and out of trouble. The boy is also an artist, and he shows us his book of drawings, most of which feature women suffering, he says, “because women go through a lot of pain in their lives. A lot more than men.” One is of his female friend who killed herself, another is of his mother, who raised him by herself after her husband, his father, left. “I’m really angry at him for not being there,” he says. While this issue is never discussed between the two–indeed, nothing intimate is ever discussed, it’s mostly lots of hard work and small talk–over the course of the film a bond develops between this stoic, unaffectionate man and his wayward son.
One of the most hyped films in the festival was Guatemalan Handshake, which sold out most likely on its advanced press comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite (a film I hated). But I went, and while the film has some superficial similarities–rural setting, a cast of weirdos who do inexplicable things, etc–it’s really not very similar. It’s not a comedy first of all. And the storyline doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I read an interview with the filmmaker who said he was worried it made no sense and people wouldn’t get it, and I think that’s a reasonable concern, because what he says it’s ‘about’ wasn’t really what I got out of it, but I think people will like it anyway. These days your film doesn’t have to make sense for people to like it. In fact that might be a benefit. Quirky and amusing is good enough.
I also caught The Legend of Lucy Keyes which is representative of everything that’s wrong with the term “independent film.” It has stars (Julie Delpy and Justin Theroux) and a completely conventional ghost-story plot, and the director said afterward that the film was just bought by Lifetime. The film is moderately interesting (apparently the people sitting behind me were involved in the making of the film and were pointing out their names in the credits–one a hairstylist, the other a videographer–and when the film was over they said “well, it wasn’t that bad.”) but more interesting is the story of its making. It was shot on high-definition video using one of those cameras that has a hard drive–not a single tape was used in the making of the film. And it looks like film, doesn’t look like video at all. The future is here, baby.
And finally, I went to the podcasting panel, mostly to see the makers of the Four-Eyed Monsters podcasts, which I have been following and I really like. Gerald Peary was in the audience and is apparently a big fan as well. You should check them out if you get a chance–they have six podcasts up, and showed us a sneak preview of episode 7. I was so inspired. Now I want to get a video camera and start podcasting myself.
Overall the festival was a lot of fun–makes me want to be a filmmmaker and just travel around to festivals and party and meet new friends and make connections. I think that is my next goal in life. Better get cracking on that screenplay…