I had such a good day yesterday at the Film Festival. Most satisfying.
I saw a Spanish film called 'Amador', whose director, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, made 'Mondays in the Sun' that screened at the Film Festival in 2002 and confirmed Javier Bardem as one of my favourite actors of all time. Amador is set in a large city among marginalised migrant workers who gather discarded flowers from the markets and spruce them up for reselling. But Marcela and Nelson need money for a new fridge to store the flowers. Marcela, who is pregnant but reluctant to tell her philandering husband, takes a job caring for an old man whose relatives are building a house outside the city. He dies within a week of her employment, but she's already committed the money she will earn caring for him. What to do? This is a very gentle social critique that is none the less effective for its gentleness and moments of quiet black humour. It's much more in the tradition of a British film-maker such as Ken Loach than it is like the exuberant and elaborate work of a film-maker such as Almodovar. Fernando Leon spoke intelligently about his film in the brief Q&A that followed the screening (film-makers aren't always intelligent about their own work). He said he'd been striving for an elegance in his cinematography - but I think that's the kind of elegance that comes from being 'plain' - simple, unadorned, spare. It's easy to tell I loved this film with its completely unanticipated resolution. A 4.5 out of 5.
If ever anybody wondered why researchers need transparent, publicly justifiable codes of ethics they should watch the brilliant documentary 'Project Nim'. Nim was a chimpanzee who, in the free-wheeling innovative spirit of the 1970s, became the subject of an experiment to socialise him as a human and teach him to communicate with sign language as part of the then current preoccupation with the nature / nurture debate. The film explores Nim's development and the inevitable (with hindsight) problems of neglecting to recognise the chimpanzee part of Nim. The documentary uses archival footage, current interviews with some of the carers Nim had at various stages (who developed complex relationships with Nim and with one another) and re-enactments in a seamless narrative. Throughout you are left exclaiming 'Oh no!' and 'They just can't do that!' as one disastrous decision after another is taken. Excellent. Definitely 4 out of 5.
And finally, an Iranian film, 'A Separation'. This film deservedly won the best film award at the most recent Berlin Film Festival. It's deeply interesting because of its depiction of everyday life in Iran, but more particularly by showing Iran's dispute settling and justice system. A couple acrimoniously decide to separate because she wants to leave Iran and he wishes to stay to care for his father who has Alzheimer's disease. Their daughter is torn between the two. The separation leads to stresses in their daily life and unfortunate and damaging choices are made. The film probes with great subtlety issues of truth, ethical choice, and responsibility, while revealing differences of viewpoint and experience - by class, by gender and by religion. This film investigates universal moral dilemmas while providing insights into a very different world. Again, a 4 out of 5.
A most satisfying day.
I haven't only been viewing films. I did manage, finally, to block my Different Lines shawl and wore it to the Knitting Guild meeting last Saturday and afterwards to a Knitting in Public gathering at A Coffee and a Yarn in Newtown.
I think this is a brilliant pattern; very simple but most graphic in its asymmetric design. I also like the yarn I used - a cloud-soft alpaca and silk mix from the Scottish yarn company Old Maiden Aunt. And the colour combination worked very well. I just wish the shawl were larger, but I had a limited amount of the yarn and just knitted till I had used it all up. It's really more of a scarf than a shawl. I'd like to try this pattern again with more yardage, but given the plethora of unfinished projects I have, and all the other mentally queued patterns I plan to knit I don't think this will happen for some time.