Monday, April 2, 2012


If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I... will answer you: I am here to live out loud.

Émile Zola (2 april 1840-1902)writer, critic, activist

my annual film-cation ended last night! what a ride - now it is back to reality from 10 days of reel-ity. in the past on the mouse, i listed and summarized the movies i saw at the festival; however this year i'm going to modify tradition and simply give a rough account of my reel-life travels. to list and summarize all of the 44 films (and 10 shorts) i viewed would take too long especially considering that i put real-life on hold for the last ten days and i really need to get my head out of the clouds!

the cleveland international film festival (ciff) is a true celebration of international filmmaking - more than 60 countries were represented this year at the festival, my personal cinematographic journey took me to more than 25 countries. even though i visited all the continents, my own viewing habits seem consistent with ciff's particular strength- ciff is renowned for showcasing and supporting films from central and eastern europe and eleven films i choose to go to came from this region of the world. perhaps this is due to my own czech/slovak heritage. in fact, the first film i saw was a german-polish collaboration. despite the scores of films that came afterwards, winter's daughter remained in my festival top ten list. it is a wonderful moving family drama and an inter-generational road trip film.

fortunately none of the films i saw were losers all though there were a couple that didn't live up to my expectations. looking at my list of films seen, it appears that i lean toward dramas - 26 films i saw were primarily dramas; and 9 films could be classified as comedies (although most of these so called comedies were infused with significant dramatic aspects - such as come as you are which is also on my top ten list); and 9 films were documentaries.

i don't think i could choose one film as my festival favorite - instead i've constructed a top ten list. for film lovers out there consider these films ones i enthusiastically recommend, although a couple of them are definitely not for the faint of heart.

my list, in order seen during the festival, each film is linked to the festival's blurb:
  1. winter's daughter germany/poland drama
  2. chronicle of my mother japan drama
  3. nicky's family czech/slovak documentary (about the rescue of more than 660 czech children during ww2 by a british businessman)
  4. tyrannosaur uk drama
  5. headhunters norway drama/thriller
  6. the girls in the band usa documentary (about the history of women in jazz music)
  7. mabul israel drama
  8. come as you are belguim comedy
  9. lucky south africa drama
  10. intouchables france comedy (dramatic comedy)

like most favorite lists - what you see above is today's list - if asked in a week the list may very well be different. there are a handful of other films which i can't get out of my mind - for instance women with cows, a swedish documentary about two elderly sisters that is most affecting and visually arresting; tomorrow will be better, a unique road-trip film about 3 russian homeless boys who seek a better life in poland; and, found memories (from argentina and brazil) and nana (france) two narrative films with are gorgeous visually poetic reflections on different stages of life.

photo: terminal tower as seen through the skylight during last night's festival closing night party held around the fountain in tower city, cleveland.


California Girl said...

We bought the album when it debuted. I guess it was a CD. I know it's close to 20 years ago. This song brings on the memories, nostalgia and a bit of melancholy.

Watson said...

What an awesome photo, mouse!

I think I would collapse after seeing so many films. I admire your abilities.

Steve Reed said...

"Tyrannosaur" is a terrific film -- I saw it here in the UK. As you noted, it is definitely not for the faint of heart! I'm glad it's making the rounds in the U.S., though.