Saturday, February 28, 2009

True/False Film Festival: Day 2

Lucia still was not herself this morning, so we skipped any early opportunities at a Q. Instead, we had a nice, leisurely morning. We decided to alter our schedule a little, opting to see The Yes Men Fix the World instead of Reporter.

R suddenly realized that in order to make the Q for our first movie of the day, we had to leave an hour earlier than if we just used our tickets for the other film. There was a mad rush to get us to the Macklanburg on time. Luckily, we slipped in and a ticket-carrying friend saved us some prime seating.

I was already familiar with the Yes Men's work. They jam the corporate culture with gags that would impress Michael Moore. In one such gag, the men of yes convince the BBC that they are representatives of Dow Chemical. Let's just say that was not their last deception as they cost the company millions on the stock market, all in the name of social justice. It was truly one of the most enjoyable films I've seen at T/F over the years. I laughed out loud as the Yes Men took down corporation after corporation. It turns out that I could have saved some of those laughs for what was to come.

(We actually saw one of the Yes Men hurrying into the theater as we were leaving. R told him we loved his film. He had a look of horror, "The movie's already over?" and ran inside.)

After a lunch break at home (and a Hopslam), we headed back out to see Rough Aunties. Where The Yes Men... was maybe the most enjoyable film I've seen at the festival, this one was the most gut-wrenching. The film follows a groups of women in South Africa who advocate for abused and neglected children. I have always had a hard time watching tales of child abuse on film, but now that I am a father, I couldn't stop crying. On top of all this was the fact that the filmmaker was able to capture so many intimate moments like when one of the aunties would interview a child concerning her sexual abuse or when an auntie mourned the tragic drowning of her only son. You can donate to their cause here.

Crude, like Yes Men, was another David vs. Goliath story. However, this one was not nearly as fun or as entertaining. The film followed the lawyers for indigenous groups living along the Amazon in Ecuador who are now suffering from the decades of drilling and polluting by Chevron/Texaco. The film was extremely well-done and really made the case for policy changes in environmental protection, human rights, and judicial systems. It seems that if you're a giant, multinational corporation, you can afford to keep any case in litigation forever no matter what the facts say.

On a side note...In Crude, Sting's wife - who will now be referred to as "Sting's wife" or "Mrs. Sting" or "Trudie Styler" - did a lot for raising awareness and in providing a temporary solution to some of the people's fresh water problem. Mrs. Sting made sure to mention that her husband Sting is very supportive of the plight of the Amazon and the people who call it home. Trudie called her husband by the name "Sting". I wondered aloud, "Does Trudie Styler really call her husband 'Sting'?" I mean, he's more than earned the right to only be referred to as "Sting", but doesn't a spouse get to call her partner by his given name? I just found it rather humorous that Ms. Styler refers to her husband as "Sting" and not "Gordan".

I think I'm off-track here...

Food Inc. was a slick, well-produced, and comprehensive rundown of what's wrong with our food. The film did very little to change any minds in the audience of slow food-loving farmers market regulars. It confirmed everything R and I think/feel whenever we go grocery shopping. In fact, the entire audience seemed to be filled with the already-converted as cheers would go out for higher E. coli counts or ammonia in our beef. R had the misfortune of sitting next to a perpetual agreer. Every point made on the film - and there was a lot of them - was followed with an emphatic "mmm-hmm". I thought I was in church for a moment.

We've seen very little of the children of the corn this weekend. They did hold seats for us at Crude before taking off for At the Edge of the World. So far, they've enjoyed the festival. Here are the children of the corn highlights...

  • We Live in Public was as intriguing and voyeuristic a film as appeared in the trailers and not the mental masturbation described in the program. (That's my synopsis of what they told me. In other words, it was good.)
  • The children also saw Secret Screening Blue (which is a terrible name for a film). They liked it, but it seems some other audience members wanted more. The film told the story of a female prison in Oklahoma where the inmates participate in a rodeo. It revealed some rather unsavory details about the prison system in the Sooner state. One audience member asked why the government officials in Oklahoma were not called out. The filmmaker carefully explained that in the spirit of objectivity and cooperation, no names were named. What do people want? If the film is well-made and the case makes itself, why do you need a PSA in every film. Figure it out for yourself.
  • I hear that Necrobusiness was a slick piece of work but a little slow.
  • They also liked Waltz with Bashir, Pressure Cooker, and Rise Up. I don't remember what the children thought of those films except that they liked them. I'll get back to you once we review the weekend over Shakespeare's pizza and beer.
Sunday has us hitting the screens in the AM. The Mosque in Morgantown kicks off our morning. We chose that one because it's one of the few women's issues films of the fest and that R is from West Virginia. No matter how much she claims that she's from Detroit, she spent her high school years in Wheeling, WVA. That means she's all-mountaineer.

After Mosque... we will hit the Q for Love on Delivery (expecting it not to be about human trafficking, but one can always hope) and have tickets for Burma VJ. We're calling it quits after that. Sick babies will do that to you. Apparently you can't run around like your 22 anymore.

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