Completely delightful feature length version of the adventures of Shaun and his farm friends. What with one thing and another, the farmer is suffering memory loss in the big city. And the animals are off to save him. Stuff I love: no character speaks words, the city is different but not Evil, the farm is modern and not in some magical past, the people are representative of the actual population of a UK city (full range of skin colors, different clothes and hair, tattoos, headscarves). There was peril but nothing as intense as A Close Shave. It was clever, funny, and full of heart. Highly recommended.
Doc about dogsled racer Lance Mackey. Very smooth blend of archival content and footage shot for the film. Mackey is a champion racer, a cancer survivor, and an all-around character. Nice Alaska slice of life in addition to the sports story, excellent cinematography. loved it, got to greet him and his dog Ace after the film. This was the world premiere. Look for it, especially if you love dogs.
Almost good Spanish doc about sherry. Again, too high context for me. Here's a flamenco singer for no reason I am able to understand. I think he was one of the old guard dudes from the flamenco doc. Lots of cool anecdotes and an oneologist rundown of how sherry is made and a sadly un-narrated barrel making sequence. But mostly it was 2 hours of movie with 30 to 60 minutes of content.
Family film set in a small Southern town in 1979. Ten-year-old Smith is fascinated with his manly next door neighbor and his daughter. The usual sorts of things happen, complicated by the fact that Smith is an Indian immigrant. In spite of nice performances by the kids and especially Jason Lee as the neighbor, there's something mildly off about this. Too much narration, maybe. It has a conventional Bollywood "20 years later". Maybe I would have liked it better if there was a big dance scene instead.
check out the trailer
Is not a sports movie about Maori kids playing chess. It's about breaking bad cycles in your life, and controlling a mental illness, and family. But what got me in the door was the chess story, and for that I am grateful. This gets my festival best actor nomination. Highly recommended.*
*it is also about a Maori youth chess team in New Zealand.
HELL YES. This why I come to the festival.
Slice of life in a scrap metal yard in the outskirts of Tehran, where Iranians work side-by-side with Afghan refugees. Iranian boy and Afghan girl steal time together in a rickety old container and dream of a life together. Lots of showing not telling and scenes without dialogue, but I never felt bored or lost. Excellent acting, clear motivations, no mustache twirling villainy. I left emotionally exhausted, but so satisfied. Highly recommended, I saw it at press screening, so all showings are upcoming. Go!
Doc about a shut-in family starting to explore the world. Notable because they didn't go outside, talk to strangers, or use the internet, but they had weirdly unrestricted access to movies. So they obsessively re-enact scenes from Tarantino films and have a homemade batman costume created from cardboard and yoga mats. I don't know if I enjoyed it. Interesting, yes. but I'm not much for the freakshow.
*this was a film where i felt like the people asking questions didn't actually watch the film. at least three different times. an example... Q: do they work with the Border Patrol? A: well, that scene with the truck that said 'Border Patrol' on it was from the Border Patrol. me: *sigh*
Backstage doc about the 2013 production of Aida in Verona. (It's the world's largest outdoor opera, held in a Roman amphitheater.) I enjoyed it, but it's of the show don't tell school and is very light on explanation of what is going on. I'm still trying to figure out if they actually get away with using a loudspeaker backstage during performances. Everything about the production is huge - life-sized mechanical elephant, chariots, set pieces coming in by crane.* I left humming the famous bits of Aida and considering a trip to Verona.
*First bad q&a of the festival: some woman held forth on the elaborate nature of the production and how this was ruining opera. Never did ask a question, audience was audibly complaining. I think she actually said she had sung Aida at Verona. If this is true, either she's delusional or opera people don't study theater history. I'm going with delusional.
I was pleasantly surprised at this comedy about a blue-collar guy in upstate New York coming out. It was relatable and true, especially in the interactions of the friends group. It's 2015, and it’s great to see a coming out story that doesn't feature exploding parents or firing or gay-bashing. Awkwardness, curiousity, concern, adjustments, yes. Apparently I was at the premiere. Did I mention that it's funny? I hope it catches on. Two more showings, recommended.
Call to action doc about mass extinction. It will be on Discovery soon. I was not as enthusiastic as the rest of the audience...no, I don't consider tourism a viable economic replacement for fishing, especially considering the carbon cost of getting rich people to a coastal village in Indonesia. Lots to think about around China; in this as in many things they are becoming who we were to the world 40 years ago. Not the tear-jerker I expected. I didn't learn anything new. But I don't think I'm their audience. It's slick, well-made, and full of info.
Kyrgyz historical epic! it's a little slow, and a little homemade. But who cares, because I knew next-to-nothing about their history and culture, so I was fascinated by their material culture and the landscape and had no idea what would happen next. THEY ARE IN CENTRAL ASIA AND THEY WRITE WITH RUNES. They're Muslims but there are sacred carved stone figures?!? Kurmanjan is badass because she's a survivor and a politician, not a warrior. I would recommend this for the textiles and the mountains alone; the story is okay and the acting is passable, but it's just so anthropologically interesting.
What a delight! It's a documentary story of an Indian - American guy who agrees to try arranging a marriage through his parents. The film is aimed at an American audience who may not be familiar with the culture and customs of the subject. The cinematography is shit, but they make a virtue of the home-movie feel by pairing it with animation and relevant clips from Indian and American media. The director is the guy's sister and roommate, so the level of access is exceptional. The family relationships and struggles are universal: I think my parents would enjoy this as much as I did. Did I mention it's funny in a laughing - with way? Yeah.