Tuesday, December 06, 2011

AIFF 2011: Tibet, A Polish Hedghog, And An Australian "Greencard" Wedding

We saw Mila's Journey - Dutch Woman hitchhikes to India with her boyfriend and his super 8 camera about 1968.  They film a three month trek across Tibet.  They break up. He keeps half the film and she keeps the other half.  40 some years later his wife contacts her that he's dying.  She takes all the film (which no one has looked at) and gets it digitized and shows him as he's dying.  Then she retraces some of the journey in Tibet.

The film is her recounting all this - using the old footage and new.  I didn't connect with the  Mila, so that didn't help.  I also was around for many of the events - visited Amsterdam a few times while a student in Germany 1964-65, went to Monterrey Pop in 1967, then after Peace Corps Thailand spent ten days in Kathmandu.  Mainly I was thinking, if I'm this boring no wonder my kids don't want to hear about all this.

I don't know that others agreed with my feelings. 

We stuck our heads into George the Hedgehog, the feature length Polish animation which the AIFF website describes this way:
George is a skateboarding hedgehog who likes to drink beer and fondle women. However, he finds it difficult to pursue his passions when he's being tormented by neo-Nazi skinheads, mad scientist and the drooling, flatulent clone of himself.
From the ten minutes I saw of it, I'm not sure why this didn't get into the competition among the animated films.   It appeared to be a fairly potent social commentary in an uncouth South Park irreverence.  This could have been one of the best films at the Festival, but maybe ten minutes is the perfect amount to watch.  It plays again Saturday at 8:30pm at the Alaska Experience Theater. 

Amanda Jane begins Q&A as credits role
But we rushed off to the Bear Tooth to watch Amanda Jane's The Wedding Party which got an enthusiastic reception from the almost full house.  Guy needs money to pay debts so he can marry his true love.  Gets opportunity to make the money - by marrying a gorgeous young Russian woman so she can get her immigration settled.   People laughed at all the right places and there was loud applause at the end.  Film maker Amanda Jane was clearly, and rightfully, happy at the end when she did her Q&A.  It was a fairly complicated film, structurally, with separate sub-narratives for all of the members of the wedding party  - Robert Altman like.  She pulled it off well. 

My only problem was a personal one in which I'm clearly an outlier in terms of what people consider funny.  I prefer self-deprecating humor or humor used by people who have no other way to stand up to the powerful.  Here the biggest laughs seemed to be at people who were struggling as human beings, often in awkward sexual situations.  I felt sympathy for them in their unsuccessful attempts to connect with their mates.  One could counter argue that the audience was laughing at themselves as portrayed by the characters.   Maybe I had too much exposure to what bullying looks like lately when Brent Scarpo was in town.

I was impressed with the solid acting - every character was, as an audience member said, spot on.  The movie was well paced.  This is certainly as good or better than a lot of the films that make money in the US these days.  No one needs to be charitable to this film as a 'festival indie' film.  It stands on its own merits as a well made AND entertaining movie.  And it has great audience appeal.  It has a good chance for an audience award. It's not listed as 'in competition.'  I need to check on whether it was a special selection.

There probably should have been a warning not to bring the kids.  It plays again Saturday at noon at Out North.  You'll have fun with this one.

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