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Film Festival Day 3, 27/07/2014

I don’t really like Courtney Place after midnight on a Saturday, but worse is bumping into herds of young people on the outskirts — without other mobs to moo at and posture towards, they try and amuse each other with whatever’s about, which generally means you. I mean, I’m sure most of them mean no harm — but how can you tell the difference between the group that tried shouting out random men’s names at me to get a reaction, and the one that beat up that couple some time ago near the Basin Reserve?

I don’t begrudge the young and drunk taking over the town at night on the weekend; but I kind of wish that I didn’t have to run the gauntlet that they pose, either.

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As expected, Animation For Kids was much better than Toons For Tots — in fact, I’d say that the worst of them was nearly on par with the best of the latter.  It started with the music video Apache, which I think I’d seen before, but was still pretty great.  Prince Ki-Ki-Do and the One Hundred Unhappy Mushrooms was about a small yellow chick with a crown, a spear, and two guardsmen tiger mosquitos (who we meet fencing each other) — they fly about righting wrongs.  It looks like a series, but I can’t find it online, which is a pity, since he had a great action pose. Ki-Ki-Do!

Snapshot was an excellent short about not seeing animals when you’re more intent on hunting them out than patiently waiting and looking (another one that I wish I could link to), and The Numberlys actually thanked Fritz Lang for inspiring their visual style (link is just a promo, sadly).

There were some moments that were odd because I am an adult watching, not a child — for example, my previous narrative experience meant that I immediately assumed Borrowed Light was about an impending catastrophe, rather than a desire to share something beautiful.  And Sausage (link to trailer) had the weird disconnect for me with linking “pure/genuine” and “sausage”, where sausages are the meat products most likely to contain… just about anything other than meat, actually.   And I was sad that the scientist in The New Species (Facebook page, best I could do) was dismissive, rather than, “I dunno, try this stuff.”

Anyway, don’t bother with PohyperPortlandia: Zero Rats was funny enough but didn’t feel complete in itself, and 5 Meters 80 was okay, but felt more like an animation demo than a story.  Snowflake reminded me of Charlie and Lola’s Snow Is My Favorite And My Best, except wordless and in Africa (these are all good things), and I wonder whether kids will pick up on the tics that the titular Mr Hublot exhibits (another good one).

So, a satisfying showing.  Maybe nibblings should go to this one next year.

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Someone pointed out that the message of FEMEN, who are the subject of Ukraine Is Not A Brothel, is better summed up in the title of the film than by the film itself.  That’s kind of true, but the film isn’t trying to promote the organization; it is trying to understand it (or at least, how it was when the film was made).  How can you promote feminism and female empowerment by pushing out members not prepared to go topless, or who are not pretty enough; what does it mean when all your photographers are men, when the person running the organization is a man?  How do you reconcile protesting the exploitation of women with working in a nightclub as an “exotic dancer” to put bread on the table?

The women are serious, and committed, and took risks (sometimes foolish risks); but that doesn’t mean that people weren’t exploiting them.  There appeared to be a bunch of weird things going on in the Ukraine with attitudes to women, some of which were simply shown, rather than commented on.  For example, there was some old home-movie footage of the women in the movement, showing them as little girls; one clip was obviously of the family moving into a new house, with the father saying, “there’s the tv, there’s the wardrobe”.  And while his daughter is clamouring for him to film her box of toys, he casually pans over the pin-ups of bare-breasted women in cheesecake poses on the walls of their new home.

The filmmaker was asked what the people in the film thought of it.  She said that it wasn’t their favorite — that they preferred some of the more propaganda-oriented films — but that they understood that it was more of a history than a promotion tool.

I don’t know how I feel about organizations that are primarily about protest, about “getting the message out” over getting stuff done.  I mean, I see how it is important, but it feels like they are likely to attract people who are more interested in the noise than the solution… but how do you convince people of the need for a solution without noise?

The organization has since kicked out the Svengali-like “Victor”, and is mainly based in Paris.  I wish them luck, but I don’t think I’ll be donating money to them any time soon.

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Apparently the booklet compares In Order of Disappearance to Fargo.  That seems a fair comparison — both are set in cold, polite, slightly parochial communities.  And there’s quite a bit of humour, and quite a bit of blood.

Basically, it’s a revenge thriller, and while it has some minor problems (why does the wife shut him out so quickly and irrevocably?  Why are the only three speaking female roles all wives?), it’s grim but good.  And I think I now know the symbol that you’d put on your gravestone if you were Norwegian and an atheist.

I might see if C wants to watch it.

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Then it was back to Te Papa for Faith Connections, a documentary on the Hindu festival Kumbh Mela.  Children featured in a number of different contexts – for one, the film is made because the film-maker’s dad asks him to go to the festival to get him some water from the confluence of the three holy rivers during this festival.  But also, younger kids — a Hindu holy man raising an abandoned baby, a family desperately searching for their three year-old boy who may have been abducted for adoption, or for organ harvesting, and a runaway boy who swans about the festival charming policemen and sadhu (and the film-maker) with his cheeky daring.  There were Sashu showing their dedication and holiness by wandering around naked and covered in chalk, and by… er… suspending bricks from things not designed to hang bricks from.  And there was a guy wandering around in street clothes, who felt that was the way that he could best serve the community.

There were people working to get people who had lost each other back together, and give rides home to people who couldn’t get home, and distributing food and money to those in need (and marijuana to those wanting to empty their minds); but it was strongly hinted that soldiers on duty might have been at least complicit in the kidnapping of the young boy (given how he was eventually found).

This was a documentary where the filmmaker didn’t hide his presence, while never appearing on-screen; he says at the beginning of the film that the is going to the festival to get water for his father, and we occasionally hear him asking questions. But that just makes it feel like we are are travelling with him, rather than having it be his story.

It was an interesting glimpse into a world very different from mine.  I enjoyed it.

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And then finally, Black Coal, Thin Ice, a Chinese detective noir.  I don’t know whether it’s differences in culture, but this didn’t work for me particularly well.  I mean, I followed it, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would — there were a number of parts that felt like they were meant to be symbolic, but just felt lumpen.  And that’s a shame, since I liked some of the plot (revolving, classically, around a sad young widow with secrets, and a down-on-his-luck ex-cop with a drinking problem).  Some sequences worked really well, like the confrontation with the initial suspects, back when the main protagonist was a cop; but some didn’t.

I like liking movies, and I’m sad that I didn’t like this one.

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