Monday, June 7, 2010

Big day out

I had a big day at the Film Festival yesterday - three films, end to end - and came away feeling most satisfied. One outstanding film, and two interesting, though far from perfect films. All of them were the kind of films you go to the Festival for - they were films that might not get commercial release or that you might not take the trouble to see when you're seeking entertainment.

The stand-out was a Chinese-Canadian documentary called 'Last Train Home' whose central motif is the annual trip home for Chinese New Year of the more than 130 million internal migrant workers in China. It's the story of a family; grandmother, parents, children, over about four years. The parents work in a clothing factory in Guangzhou to send money to the grandmother who cares for the children in distant Sichuan. Your heart goes out to everybody in the film; to the elderly grandmother caring for the children; to the parents whose life is grim and routine and who work for their children's future; and to the children who don't really know their parents but are burdened by the their parents' hopes. The film is perfectly shot and edited. I think a 4.5 out of 5.

The other two films weren't as good but were still engaging. 'The Oath' is a documentary about two brothers-in-law - both of whom worked for Osama Bin Laden. One brother is held in Guantanamo Bay, and the most satisfying parts of the film are those dealing with the military trial to determine his guilt and punishment. The other brother-in-law, clearly a wheeler-dealer, is more immediately revealed by the film. The documentary can only be as interesting as this man's story, and as it becomes more confused and tenuous, so too does the narrative line of the documentary. A 3 out of 5 for a very brave attempt.

Finally, the Haitian film, 'Moloch Tropical', on which Jody's already commented. This is one of those Festival films where the Q&A with the wonderfully articulate director that followed the film was even better than the film itself. I'm old-fashioned enough to have a very soft spot for films made out of political commitment, and this is one of those. It's about power and the corruption of power. The director calls it a satire, but I think its more a series of allusions to the foibles and veniality and evil of a number of quite modern leaders. All in all, I would have liked a tighter script and more rigorous editing, but again, a brave attempt. Another 3 out of 5

June busy summary
Bunches of flowers bought 2
Number of rows knitted (socks) 98 (blanket) 1.5 rows of 650 stitches
Time spent tidying up 5.5 hours
Films viewed 6

poppiesBurgundy lilies


Rose Red said...

Poppies and lilies - you can't go wrong with those! Glad you had a good day at the SFF!

missfee said...

Oh the cleaning - I hate the cleaning

The films sound like a lot of fun - I now have film envy

jp said...

After you mentioned Last Train Home to me yesterday I have seen it highlighted as 4 peoples best film so far on Twitter and in conversations.

Lynne said...

Lovely bunches of flowers (although lilies make me sneeze and give me a headache).

The film Last Train Home sounds fascinating. I have taught Chinese children in Australia at "Saturday school" - parental hopes are very high and sometimes bring a great deal of stress to their primary school-aged children!