Saturday, August 15, 2009
The Indie Gathering: Day One
Pretty much as soon as I got back to the hotel from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I got wrapped up in the first day of the festival. It wasn’t supposed to start until 6 and I got back at five-ish, but I went ahead and got my fest badge (on which I’ve since written my name and the name of my film), and hung around the general festival area until the first film started, a Mongolian flick called Jinjiimaa. I did come back up to my room to wash my face and grab some posters for the poster table.
The thing you should understand about the first day of any festival is that it tends to be kind of low key and a bit of a slow start. There were maybe fifteen people in there and the filmmakers, of course, weren’t there. But then again, none of the filmmakers for last night’s films were there. The film that had the most people in the auditorium was The SEED, a short film by one of the Linkin Park guys.
I missed the fourth film in favour of getting something to eat. I thought it would be kind of distracting to the rest of the audience to hear my stomach grumbling. Then I returned for the second to last film and didn’t watch the very last. Like I said in my Hall of Fame post, I wasn’t feeling all that great, in fact my throat’s kind of sore this morning, so just came back to my room, started writing the Hall of Fame post, and passed out around 2 only to be awakened when I thought my clock read 1:30...in the afternoon. Yeah, it was 7:30 in the morning, but the top bar of the seven wasn’t showing up. The first film I want to see isn’t until 1:15 pm so I have some time yet.
Jinjiimaa: The organizer of the festival said that this film was actually in the festival a couple of years ago, but he liked it so much that he wanted to bring it back for the opening night. I think it needed some work in the cinematography, sound, and editing departments (coincidentally, the editor is here to give a lectures about editing and producing), but the performances were fantastic across the board.
It’s about a woman who lost her hearing after an accident when she was a child and was raped by a town leader when he grew up. After the act, when she shot him, the man she loved and who loved her took the blame and did the time for her. When he’s released, she goes to pick him up and introduce him to her child from the rape. They all get along well for a while, right up until she finds out she can get a surgery that will cure her deafness. The man sells all of his cows to pay for the surgery and she takes off. The town leader she shot, who is still alive, tries to take the child away saying that the man can’t take care of the woman’s child, and through an accident, their hut burns down, presumably with the man and child inside.
Fast forward fifteen years: the child is grown up and the man had taken her away because he thought the town leader set the fire on purpose. They’d been unsuccessful in finding her mother, who we discover is now a famous activist for women’s rights. Apparently not famous enough, though, because it takes the characters forever to reconnect. And there’s one more tragedy at the end which I won’t reveal, but it’s tragic.
Forgetful Not Forgotten: This is a documentary about one man’s father and his journey through early onset Alzheimer's, from pretty early on right through to the bitter end. The filmmaker, Chris Wynn, was afraid that he was showing signs of early onset Alzheimer's himself so it also chronicles his trips to the memory clinic and his struggle to decide whether or not he was going to start a family with his girlfriend. The one thing that lifts this doc above the rest is that it’s unflinchingly honest about his father’s decline. You watch it as it happens, pretty much. Utterly heartbreaking.
The SEED: This is the flick by the Linkin Park guy. He pumped a lot of cash into it, too, but it’s only twelve minutes. If you’re going to put that kind of cash into a project, make it a feature. It probably would have served the story better to be a feature anyway. It was shot on film and in scope so not only was it shot on film, it was shot on super-35.
The flick’s about a possibly crazy, possibly homeless guy who has a cloaking device in his brain and he fights some hockey-masked baddies with his mad martial arts skillz, then he takes the corkscrew end of a Swiss army knife, drills into his own head, and pulls out the SEED and now he can see spaceships. I suppose it was a “what if the crazy homeless people aren’t crazy” type deal, but more of a story would have been appreciated. It was well shot, well edited, and had good effects. The acting was okay.
After this there was an intermission in which I came back to my room, grabbed my hoodie, then got some food, and then waited for the last half an hour or so until the last feature started so I missed Ghengis Blues.
Hampshire: A Ghost Story: This flick is, as the title pretty clearly states, about ghosties. The Busy Bistro, which has since gone out of business in real life, is just an average restaurant with some very dangerous ghosts. People go completely missing, completely mental, or both. And the spirits follow you, driving you mad and killing everyone around you.
I make it sound more exciting than it actually was because outside of some great cinematography, good set pieces, and some pretty good acting, it really wasn’t scary. There was so little tension that whatever tension there was was broken with the use of overly dramatic music cues or silly classical selections. And the end song, which was performed by the twins in the flick, was a blatant Manson rip-off. It was an okay flick, but it could have been so much better, especially when it had so much going for it.
After the flick, there was one more short, but I decided to head over to the bar where the networking party was and get a bottle of water. Moments after arriving, though, I just went ahead and came back to my room and settled in for the night. I don’t want to be sick, especially not for my own screening. My throat’s still a little sore and I’m tired...not a good combination, not when I’m in Ohio anyway.
More to come after today’s festival goodness!