Sunday, December 07, 2014

AIFF 2014: Films (and events) For Sunday, Dec. 7 [UPDATED]

It's Pearl Harbor Day.  A couple of years ago we had a great film, The Red Machine (scroll down), that was all about trying to decode the Japanese messages just before Pear Harbor Day, but it wasn't programmed for Dec. 7.  I don't see any such films for today. [UPDATE:  Actually, The Empty Chair was a good film for Dec. 7.  They even had clips of the bombing of Pearl Harbor AND footage of people playing in the snow that day in Juneau.  It was a very good movie, and a great capture of Alaska history while Juneau folks who experienced the internment of Japanese in WWII are still around to talk about it. NOTE:  Empty Chair (see bottom of post for more) is at 11am at Alaska Experience Theater.]

My picks (that I've seen):

Petter Ringbom Dec. 5 at Bear Tooth
Shield and Spear, which I saw last night, is an outstanding documentary on the contemporary on the edge art and music scene in South Africa.  The filming itself is beautifully shot  
and Petter Ringbom (who is here in Anchorage for the festival) did this as a one person film crew - which you wouldn't know.  But when I talked to him after the film, he said he thought this helped him gain the trust of the artists he filmed, had a painting vandalized when the ruling party's lawsuit to have it taken down was unsuccessful.  A photographer had her hard drives, with all her work, stolen.   Interesting characters and their stories are revealed well.  1pm Alaska Experience Large

Rocks In My Pockets -  This is a full length animated feature.  Word I'm getting is that the programmers and juries were split on this, some loving it and some hating it.  I'm on the loving it side.  The Latvian born American film maker, tells her family history with depression and suicide, which takes you through the history of Latvia in the last century as well.  It's very droll and she talks about things individuals and their families normally want to hide with straightforward images (they are simple in one sense but not really - each frame is a piece of art you could put on your wall).  I can understand if you like traditionally told stories this will not be your thing.  If you like original films that have a look and feel you probably have never seen before and are full of serious and honest content (and if you don't, why spend time at a film festival?) then this is a must see film.  5pm Alaska Experience Large

Film Archival Viewing and Talking at The  Museum
Rick Prelinger Image from Spots Unknown
Jim Parker, Director of Film Programming,  has put together a  day at the museum featuring archival film and discussions and demonstrations of interesting ways it can be used.  I'm struggling with words here because I haven't seen this yet.  But he's got a film archive living legend - Rick Prelinger - here with his film No More Road Trips  made up of old home movies he's gotten from people all over the US.  The film, as I understand, edits together all these home movies into one cross country road trip.  This again, is the kind of thing you can get at a film festival - unique kinds of films and a chance to talk to the people who make them.  There are also some vintage Alaska film.  Check out all the stuff going on at the museum today.  Here's an earlier post I did on Rick Prelinger.   No More Road Trips? is at the Museum at 2pm. 

Richard Gray director of Lookalike
The Lookalike  - I saw this last night against my better judgment, but it was well made and kept me watching the whole way through.  This is a typical Hollywood action murder movie with a good dose of violence, drugs, and sex.  The musical score, when I noticed (and mostly you shouldn't), was good.  But I'm just not into movies that use women as sex objects and for target practice.   But if you like that sort of thing, it's well done.  The film maker is here.  And he just finished shooting a film in Seward, that I'm guessing we'll see at the festival next year.  2pm Alaska Experience Small

Dec. 5 at AK Exp Theater
Listening    - I saw the first 45 minutes or so of this yesterday and plan to go back for the rest tonight. Two college plus another, develop brain reading technology.  Based on the opening scene, it doesn't go well.  This is a first feature for film maker Khalil Sullins, who is here in Anchorage.  I'm putting up a short post with video of him later today, so look for it.  8pm Bear Tooth

Global Village Short Narrative Program -   I'm looking forward to this because I've been scoping out the short narratives  in competition.  This program has four of them.  Based on what I saw in yesterday's short narrative program, they're going to be as good as my expectations.  I did talk to one of the film makers via Skype last week and you can see that here.  This is high on my todo list. Here's an overview I posted of all the short narratives in competition - by program.  You can get more details of each film there.  1pm Alaska Experience Theater Large

Alaska films  -   As you can see on the schedule, there are a bunch of Made in Alaska films to see as well.  This is a chance to see what Alaskan film makers are doing, and I think you'll be surprised by the quality of many.  Check the grid above of times and places.

Particularly look at the 11 am program which is the first program of the day.

The Empty Chair (11am at Alaska Experience Theater) looks worth seeing.  Here's the description
In 1942 an Empty Chair was set aside for the Juneau born Japanese American valedictorian of the Juneau High School. The Empty Chair is a unique story about how Japanese Americans from Juneau Alaska were sent to prison camps during WWII and how the community stood in quiet defiance against the immoral internment of American citizens.
The director, Ed Chaney, did a movie that followed a couple who walked, skied, and kayaked across Alaska.  You can see him talking about that film here.

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