Sunday, December 09, 2012

AIFF 2012: Passionflower, Fairbanks Nigerians, Scottish Cons With Scissors, Elder Ping Pong, Havana, and Lots of Duct Tape

My Saturday at the film festival was one very satisfying movie after another.  [Check the AIFF 2012 Tab above for what's on today.]

I'll start with two movies that will show again today (Sunday Dec. 9) that are very well worth watching.

Passionflower plays today (Sunday Dec. 9) at 3pm at Alaska Experience Theater.

For some reason I do not understand at all, this film was not selected to be in-competition.  It deserves to be.  I chatted with the director Shelagh Carter briefly the other night - the video is here - and that's the only reason I went to see it tonight.  This film isn't easy, and it doesn't offer any easy solutions.  Nevertheless, even though this film didn't begin until close to 11pm I was wide awake and completely in the film the whole way.  It's the story of a young girl whose beautiful mom is behaving badly.  Today we have a word for this - mentally ill.  Actually, the story is about the mom, for the most part from the girl's perspective.  Making the film even more powerful was that I knew from my chat with Shelagh that the little girl was sitting near me in the theater.  And Shelagh will be at the showing tomorrow as well.  BTW, she's all grown up now, art has gotten her through all this, and she is a professor of film and theater in Winnipeg, Canada.

Alaskaland plays today (Sunday Dec. 9) at 5pm at Out North.

This film takes place entirely in Fairbanks.  It's in the Snowdance category, but it could just as easily have been in the features.  It focuses on a Nigerian family - Dad's a professor of engineering at UAF - and the struggles of the children living in three cultures - the family's Nigerian culture, the general Fairbanks culture, and the black Fairbanks culture.  An outstanding film by a UAF alumnus and with the help of the newish  UAF film program.  Good stuff that tells an Alaskan story that most of us had no idea existed. I do think this film would be improved if it had a title more indicative of the story. 

Now I can talk about the others.  I'll just mention them briefly now and I'll write about some of these at more length later.   All of the films I saw today were good, so I won't keep repeating that. 

It started with a pair of in-competition documentary films - Ping Pong and Cutting LooseCutting Loose was exactly right from my perspective.  Scottish convicts who know how to cut hair, and act as prison barbers, have a hair cutting contest.   But really, the story itself doesn't mean much - it's how they tell the story that matters and they did it well.

Ping Pong highlights eight contestants in the octogenarian world ping pong championship in Inner Mongolia.  An inspirational movie for all of us for whom 80 is getting to be in the foreseeable future.

Most common use of Duct Tape in Quick Freeze films
Unfinished Spaces. Wow!  I was going to go home and get a nap before the afternoon films I had scheduled but Kelly talked me into staying.  For now, I'll just say this is the Buena Vista Social Club for Cuban architects.  More later.

Quick Freeze.  These were the films made since earlier this week (I forget now when), using the three terms - duct tape, sunrise, and hostess.  They were staggeringly good for such a quick turnaround.  I did ask one director if he hadn't started working on an idea before the words were given out and he said, "No."

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