Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Funerals, Flights, and Films, Part 3

One day of documentary overload was nearly over and another lay ahead.
Saturday night of True/False ended with Owen Lowry's An Alternative to Slitting Your Wrists which, surprisingly, was as uplifting a film as I have ever seen at the festival. After a mental breakdown, Lowry spends a year checking off a list of 52 alternatives to slitting his wrists. The items vary from hang-gliding to squirrel fishing to picking a fight with his childhood abuser. I felt I had a connection with the director thanks to our ties to the buckeye state. He liked my tattoo anyway.

Actually, the most disturbing part of the screening happened after the film was over. Lowry, a young, charismatic, good-looking guy was surrounded by a hoard of young women. There was a definite groupie feel in the room. Of course, I was no better in trying to impress him with my tattoo...

We awoke the next morning to join our h
ouse guests, T and M, for breakfast at the new Uprise Bakery within the equally new Ragtag. Thank god this change happened. The new space for both operations (soon to be joined by 9th Street Video) is aesthetically pleasing, modern, and practical. A place like this makes living in COMO worth it...well, almost.
The first film was Lucio, shown at the Tiger Hotel's Forest Theater. This film followed the life of an anarchist, counterfeiting brick layer and his efforts to bring down governments and world financial institutions all by his lonesome. The opening credits were maybe the slickest I've ever seen. The rest of the film moved along and was vastly interesting. The trouble was when, for whatever reason, the filmmaker abandoned the story's chronological trajectory in order to piece together the narrative. This only confused an already dense topic. Despite this little snafu, the film was a highlight. (You have to love films about anarchist leaders, an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.)

Afterwards, we ventured over to The Den for Paradise 3: Journeys in this World. The film
attempted to give a 21st century take on the African Diaspora, sometimes inadvertently drawing close comparisons to the US/Mexico immigration issue. The premise was sound, but the execution was disjointed and cluttered. The filmmakers presented one primary story but muddled it with supplementary tales of other African men trying to succeed in the new European economy.
In the same cinema, we hung around to watch The Mother, a film we originally wanted to see on Friday. Festival co-founder Paul Sturtz was right to point out the fine cinematography of the film as one of this year's best. The great camera work was used to tell the story of...you guessed it...a mother. The woman is a single Russian mother of nine who struggles to make ends meet as she does her best to raise her children. It's very European in narrative style, but memorable to say the least.
One of the funniest films of the festival had to be Please Vote for Me, the story of an experiment in democracy that takes place in a Chinese elementary school. Besides the comedy of third graders campaigning for class monitor, the film provides an interesting look at the dirty underbelly of republican politics (as in the "republic" not the party...although...). Bribes are made, faults are pointed out, and tears are shed as both the students and the audience learn a lot about democracy.

I skipped the next film in order to feed the animals and allow R to get a much-deserved massage before checking out the last film of the festival.
I Think We're Alone Now is the story of two die-hard, almost stalker-y fans of eighties pop sensation Tiffany. Although the premise and story are sometime humorous, a dark yet very human story is revealed. I was beat from the previous three days of funerals, flights, and films, but this film was a pleasant and thought-provoking finale to the weekend.

Despite the funeral and missing the opening of this year's festival, the weekend was not one I'll soon forget. It only makes me hunger for next year's edition.


Jake said...

I wanted to see "Alternative", but I was a tad too late. I'll have to get my hands on it otherwise.

comoprozac said...

I think the filmmaker has made it available on MySpace or YouTube or something.