Wednesday, December 05, 2018

AIFF2018: Interpreters, Afghan Cycles, And Festival Thoughts

The second two films took us to Afghanistan, Iraq, and France.

Interpreters was a documentary about American government promises to interpreters and other Iraqis and Afghans who worked for the US in those countries and had death threats from the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS when the US pulled out.  Promises that were long delayed or not carried out at all.   It took me back to another film at the festival years ago - Taxi To The Dark Side.

Afghan Cycles was about the Afghan women's bicycle team and the risks they faced just practicing in a country where women traditionally were supposed to stay at home.

Both films (and the earlier one Exit Music) were very personal stories about the people featured.  And all three had speakers afterward.  After Interpreters we had immigration attorney (and retired Lt. Col) Margaret Stock and another officer (whose name and exact rank I didn't catch) who had been the user of interpreters.  Stock made it clear that the government really hasn't kept its promise - that the responsibility is split between Homeland Security and the State Department, both of which have incentives to not process these applications quickly.  She also pointed out that as potential in-country interpreters learn how the promises were not kept, they are less likely to take these vitally needed positions.

 Sarah Menzies, Afghan Cycles director, answered questions after the film.  One of the more interesting questions was about the interview with the Taliban representative about killing women cyclists.  It turns out, Sarah was in Yakutat on a fishing film when that interview was done.  She got a male colleague to do it.  She said she hoped that she would have done the interview herself had she been in country, but wasn't sure if the Taliban guy would have accepted a female interviewer.  And he didn't know she wrote the questions.

Some general thoughts on the festival so far before I forget them:

  • The earthquake made everything even more informal than normal.  Losing the venues the first day of the festival, made for scrambling.  First to get the Alaska Experience useable by the third day, and second to rearrange the schedule given the loss of the Bear Tooth (it will show Martines Matinee and The Miseducation of Cameron Post tomorrow - Thursday).
  • It's nice having all the films in one location.  Not so much getting from place to place.  But there's been no food available, not even popcorn.  So it will be nice being back at the Bear Tooth tomorrow.
  • There's been a crowd of pass holders who get to see each other a lot this way, and get to talk about the films from day to day.
  • Not having so many choices has been nice too.  Not as many decisions and regrets.  Though today I had to decide between going to the Museum for FIVE SEASONS:  The Gardens of Piet Oudolf.  I've heard good things about the film, and there was a reception with food included.  But while my feet are feeling better today, I decided less walking is still better.  
  • We haven't seen the kind of AIFF trailer we've gotten used to, with clips from many of the films, playing before each showing.  And names of sponsors are read or displayed on screen like usual.  Only Bear Tooth and Out North have been regularly thanked.  There was one film programmer who read us the list of sponsors yesterday.  
  • Communicating with the public, so they'd know what was playing when, and where was spotty.  There seems to have been a problem keeping the website up-to-date and user friendly.  Though the SCHED (the film festival scheduling software) was working before the festival and by Monday or Tuesday was accurate for the post-earthquake revisions.  But if someone went to the website, one had to work to track it down.  Early Facebook posts were vague.  I had to call the Bear Tooth to find out for sure if there were not going to be films.

Things should be more like normal tomorrow and this weekend.  So if you haven't been to a film yet, it's time to show up.  In fact, tomorrow everything I've said above is thrown out the window.  Four different venues - Bear Tooth, E Street Theater, Alaskan Experience Theater, and Inlet Towers.  And lots of films at the same time, forcing you to make a decision.  The decision to stay home isn't an option.

Here's a link to the expanded schedule.

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