Monday, April 4, 2011

s is for story

Stories unite people, theories divide people.

James Billington (b. 1929) academic, current Librarian of Congress
(as quoted from these amazing shadows)

okay, yeah, I've been a bit scarce here in cyberspace -I've been on a staycation attending the 35th cleveland international film festival. for most of the last ten days one could find me sitting in the dark, traveling the world via the silver screen.

I started a tradition last year in which I listed and summarized the films I saw - no sense breaking tradition 'specially given how many serious film lovers seem to drop by the mouse.

my list in order seen:
  1. paradise hotel. documentary (2010, bulgaria). I choose the film primarily because of its subject - the roma (aka gypsies) - I'm smitten by all things gypsy. the film was a sobering, bittersweet, and fascinating portrayal of a subculture on society's margins.
  2. 2030: revolt of the young. narrative (2010, germany). intriguing, stylish film tackling serious social issues plaguing our world. the film shows where we may be heading if we don't start to get a grip on things.
  3. danny green: the rise and fall of the irishman. documentary (2010, usa). a sibling film to the hollywood film kill the irishman - keep an eye out, I wouldn't be surprised to see the film on one of those stations that air stories about the mob.
  4. aardvark. narrative (2010, usa/argentina). seriously strange story that starts as a documentary and gradually evolves into a wild imagined story. set in cleveland the film primarily is a friendship tale of two men who meet in a jiu-jitsu studio it soon takes the viewer on a wild ride with stops in to visit some intriguing, yet disturbing, subcultures.
  5. the pipe. documentary (2010, ireland) - story about a small irish village taking on shell oil company's plans to run a gas pipeline through their lands and livelihoods.
  6. the woman with the 5 elephants. documentary (2009, switzerland/germany) the elephants refer to dostoyevsky's books. gorgeously photographed and sensitively portrayed story of svetlana geier, who is perhaps the world's foremost translator of russian literature into german.
  7. the piano in a factory. narrative (2010, china) zany, charming madcap comedy about the lengths a father will go to try to retain custody of his young daughter. great visuals and wonderful cast of characters.
  8. my kidnapper. documentary (2010, uk/colombia/germany) four former captives come face to face with one of the people who held them hostage. powerful story.
  9. the hedgehog. narrative (2009, france) based on the best-selling and utterly wonderful book the elegance of the hedgehog the film does the book justice. crossing my fingers that this film will make it to theaters everywhere! the three main actors will steal your heart, if they don't, well I won't say what that might mean.
  10. seven days in heaven. narrative (2010,taiwan) quirky comedy about funeral rituals and family.
  11. polka! the movie. documentary (2010, usa/slovenia) this film is about music, sausages, and slovenians in the polka capital of the world - CLEVELAND. a fun and feel good look inside yet another interesting subculture - polka lovers.
  12. !woman art revolution. documentary (2010, usa) great contribution to understanding the feminist art scene and help make visible the invisible when it comes to women and art. okay, my summaries are still too long, seeing I still have over 20 more films to cover, from here on out I'm going to try and give only the bare essentials and link to ciff's summaries when I provide the film title
  13. desert flower. narrative (2009, UK/germany/austria). powerful story based on an autobiographical novel written by a somali born woman who became an international super model and spokesperson against female genital mutilation.
  14. uncle boonmee who can recall his past lives. narrative (2010, thailand). I left after an hour and ten minutes - perhaps it was too late or perhaps just not my cuppa chai; rumor has it the film was a hit at some other international film festivals.
  15. mothers. narrative/documentary (?) (2010, macedonia/france/bulgaria) a triptych of stories. engaging and well crafted.
  16. bibliotheque paschal. narrative (2010, hungary/germany) in my top 5 of this year's narrative films- need I say more! a wild, at times surreal ride; oh and there are gypsies to boot!
  17. hello! how are you? narrative (2010, romania/spain/italy) utterly charming comedy.
  18. 72 days. narrative (2010, 93 minutes, croatia/serbia/montenegro) also in my top 5! if you like coen brother movies you will most likely love this zany film!
  19. kawasaki rose. narrative (2009, czech republic). intelligent and gorgeous cinematography - loved it!
  20. the border. documentary (2009, slovakia) interesting but might not appeal to everyone.
  21. mamma gogo. narrative yet semi-autobiographical (2010, iceland/norway/sweden/ germany/uk) well worth seeing.
  22. an earthly paradise for the eyes. narrative (2009, czech republic) another in my top five narrative films.
  23. autumn gold. documentary (2010, germany) awesome, inspiring! seek it out! among my top 3 documentaries.
  24. there once was an island. documentary (2010, new zealand, usa) who says there is no such thing as global climate change? powerful story of the devastation that effecting one south pacific community.
  25. long way to oblivion. narrative (2011, usa) long way to the end of the movie. okay, I went because it was made by a young, local filmmaker. he's got promise, but he has a long way to go.
  26. I am. documentary (2010, usa) my personal favorite documentary of this year's festival. if you hear that it is coming to a screen near you - GO! a film that may change your life.
  27. small town murder songs narrative (2010, canada) intriguing film featuring a great soundtrack. worth seeing.
  28. bill cunningham new york (2010, usa) super documentary!
  29. vincent wants to sea. narrative (2010, germany) wonderful film. it took the festival's coveted roxanne t. mueller audience choice award!
  30. black death. narrative (2010, uk) along with gypsies anything that deals with the plague of the dark ages intrigues me - with that said, how could I resist! yeah, I'm strange.
  31. with love, from the age of reason narrative (2009, france/belgium) like chocolate from france and belgium utterly irresistible sweet film.
  32. these amazing shadows. documentary (2010, usa) must see for everyone who truly loves movies!
in addition to the above mentioned feature length films I also saw six excellent shorts! happy to report that my personal favorite short (I was on the festival's short screening committee) made it to the top ten of the festival audience favorites - carrier of men

be part of the story - the official trailer for the 35th cleveland international film festival - so what are you? hero, lover, rebel....or maybe a bit of all three!


Alan Burnett said...

I have to admire your stamina. I have to confess that I have been known to fall fast asleep within fifteen minutes of taking my seat ina cinema.

Watson said...

I love the quote about stories uniting, theories dividing, mouse. How true!

I also admire your stamina! :-)

deb did it said...

I just met you here via Spirit Cloth, and I LOVE your blog. We have some common friends, Meri was my roomie in San Miguel. I will stop by for visits here...LOVE this space!

Betsy Brock said...

Wow...I should just print this out! ha. Ssssplendid!

karen said...

Oh how lucky you got to see I Am....I'm anxiously waiting for this one to come around. What a wonderful festival.

Tess Kincaid said...

Stories unite people. I love that. Your film list is fascinating!

tony said...

Bloody Hell! I haven't seen any of the films you mention! I need to write a "to do" list.Most sound really good.