Tuesday, November 29, 2016

AIFF2016 Documentaries In Competition Tibetan Nomads, Tuvan Throat Singers, Slanty Eyed Mamas, Thai Boxing, And Those Ruby Slippers

Here are the documentaries in competition with descriptions below.

Docs in CompetitionDirectorCountryLength
Best and Most Beautiful ThingsGarrett Zevgetis USA 90 min
DrokpaYan Chun S China 79 min
Goodbye Darling, I’m Off to FightSimone ManettiItaly,Australia, United States  73 min
SHU-DE!Michael R Faulkner United States85 min
Happy Lucky Golden Tofu PandaCarrie Preston United States 75 min
The Slippers Morgan WhiteUSA min
The Cinema TravelersShirley Abraham India min

Best and Most Beautiful Things
Garrett Zevgetis
90 min

Tuesday December 6, 2016 5:30pm - 7:30pm *** Warning - one showing only!!

From the film's website:
"In 2009 director Garrett Zevgetis googled the word “Beauty.”
He had been working on a number of darker-themed documentaries and was determined to find an uplifting story for a future project. The search returned a poignant Helen Keller quote that led Garrett to Perkins School for the Blind outside Boston, a renowned institution where a feature documentary had never before been made. He began volunteering at Perkins. On the last day of his scheduled term, a bubbly student introduced herself – Michelle had found him.
BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS is a celebration of outcasts everywhere, following a precocious young blind woman who disappears into quirky obsessions and isolation. With humor and bold curiosity, "

The Cinema Traveler
Shirley Abraham
96 minutes
Thursday December 8, 2016 5:30pm - 7:00pm **WARNING - Just one showing

This film debuted at Cannes last May where it won a Special Jury Prize.  This seems to be one not to miss.  I did get see some films shown in rural Thailand on a sheet across a dirt road in Thailand in the 60s, it wasn't quite what this film seems to be documenting.  The annual visit by the Chinese opera troupe probably was more like this.  From the reviews, it sounds like the film captures the excitement of these events.

From a much longer article at the Guardian:
"In Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya’s understated documentary, we’re given intimate access to a unique experience: two travelling cinemas that travel across rural India sharing films with people who would otherwise have limited access. It focuses on the lives of the men who put the show on the road, faced with a changing medium and a demanding audience.
Shot over five years, we follow a set of men with different key roles in the process of the two companies. There’s the easygoing manager trying to provide for his family while on the road, the 70-year-old projector mechanic whose weathered hands have helped bring the joy of cinema to thousands and the many serious-minded cineastes who work around them."
From the Hollywood Reporter:
"The traveling cinema world, mostly based around Maharashtra, the vast state whose capital is Mumbai, has been bringing the magic of the silver screen to remote villages for some 70 years. Setting up tents in rural fairs that often are several hours from anything even approaching a local multiplex, the screenings draw hundreds, who line up to see the latest Bollywood hits, old Hindi classics and even the odd dubbed Hollywood title.
But it’s a tradition that is nearing extinction. "There are very few of these cinemas left," says Shirley Abraham, who together with her co-director Amit Madheshiya, has spent eight years tracking those remaining in the industry for The Cinema Travelers, screening in the Cannes Classics sidebar on May 15. 'It has been petering out over the years. I don’t think they’re going to survive the march of time and technology.'"

The film's website's press page has lots and lots of links to articles about the film.
The video below features a discussion with the film makers talking about the film. The video isn't great. I haven't found a trailer.

Screenshot from Dropka trailer

Yan Chun Su
79 minutes

Saturday December 3, 2016 2:00pm - 3:30pm 
Anchorage Museum
Saturday December 10, 2016 12:00pm - 1:30pm 
Alaska Experience - SMALL

The site only lists three other festivals in addition to AIFF so we're some of the first people to see this film.  From their website:
"DROKPA (Nomads of Tibet) is a portrait of the lives and struggles of nomads on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau. Through intimate individual stories, the film reveals the unprecedented environmental and sociopolitical forces that are pushing the nomads to the edge of their existence. "

Goodbye Darling, I’m Off to Fight
Simone Manetti

Wednesday December 7, 2016 8:00pm - 9:30pm 
Sunday December 11, 2016 2:00pm - 3:15pm 
Alaska Experience - SMALL

The trailer of this Italian movie is in English with Italian sub-titles. The trailer has the title in English, Italian, and Thai.  It's about boxing.  And that seems to be confirmed in the English description I found at DocsMX:
"After a painful break-up with her boyfriend, Italian actress and fashion model Chantal Ughi discovered that Muay Thai was the only way to confront the violence she suffered as a child. She went to Thailand to train for four weeks, but ended up living there for five years—training and fighting, becoming stronger than a man."

Happy Lucky Golden Tofu 
Carrie Preston
75 min

Saturday December 3, 2016 1:30pm - 3:00pm 
Alaska Experience - SMALL 
Saturday December 10, 2016 6:00pm - 7:30pm 
49th State Brewing Company 

Where do I start this?  There's a duo called Slanty Eyed Mamas.  I'll let their own words from their website explain:
Thoroughly modern, urban, sexy sounds from the very fresh, street infused Asian-American duo that always causes a stir...You've never seen anything quite like it--part hip hop, part rock, part electroclash, from two rock n roll asian chicks. Slanty Eyed Mama sees the world through the searing electric violin and beats of virtuoso Lyris Hung and the iconoclastic rants from Kate Rigg, aka. Lady K-Sian. Kate is also a Juilliard trained actor/playwright and a well known comedian, who has been on Fox's Family Guy, 2 seasons of the Dr. Phil show where she talked about the Asian American Experience to 5 million people, and has toured extensively as a stand up comic. Electric violinist Lyris Hung is also a Juilliard graduate who also has a metal band called HUNG, tours with The Indigo Girls and has played with Jay Z, Bono, Quincy Jones, and many others."
And the movie?  On her website, Kate writes about the movie:

"In addition to keeping busy with theater and TV work, 2016 sees the release of the thoroughly original, mind bending, but gusting, comedy music and spoken word mashup film Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Tie Fun Fun Show- The movie. Shot on location in New York and directed by Emmy Award Winning actress Carrie Preston. The movie captures the downtown New York spirit with live portions filmed in an East Village Club, with musical numbers and sketches blown up and shot on location throughout the City. It examines the "East meets west experience" ways in which we see "Asian-ness" in the West through culture, media, commodities and familiar images-- Hello Kitty, Nail Salons, Chinatown bargain shopping, Pokemon, bowl cuts. Kate's Stand up weaves the show together, with sharp observational, political and outrageous out-there jokes."
 It premiered in New York in June, but I can't find much except their own promotional stuff.  Eclipse Magazine mentions it in passing when discussing what people will find at the SOHO film festival:
"intriguing oddities like Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show" 
Here's the teaser.

Michael R Faulkner
85 min

Saturday, Dec 3, 2016: BearTooth 6:00 PM Sunday, Dec 11, 2016:Alaska Exp - SMALL, 
4:00 PM

I remember first seeing live Tuvan throat singing 20 or 30 years ago at the Fly-by-Night Club in Spenard.  It's other-worldly.  So this one piques  my interest.

From the Shu-De website:
"Khoomei (hoo-may) or Tuvan throat singing, is an ancient vocal tradition originating in the remote Republic of Tuva, which is located in the center of Asia in Siberia, and now, part of the Russian Federation. Considered to predate modern linguistics, Khoomei, involves a remarkable technique for singing two or more pitches simultaneously. The sounds are said to come from the land and harmonize with nature itself. The Alash Ensemble are masters of this vocal art and have been touring the world, sharing their music with other cultures, for years.
Shodekeh, a beatboxer and vocal percussionist from Baltimore, with a vision for creating an "oasis of unity through musical collaboration," has spent his life mastering new sounds and using them, while fostering seemingly unlikely collaborations. SHU-DE! is the story of what happened when these artists came together, utilizing their common instrument: the voice and body."
The Baltimore Sun did a profile of the film maker, Michael Faulkner.  Here's a snippet from it:
" . . .The resulting film, "Shu-De!" – Tuvan for "Let's go!" — was one of the crowd favorites at May's 18th Maryland Film festival, where it had its East Coast premiere (its world premiere was a few weeks earlier, at the Nashville Film Festival). Its mix of local interest and exotic locales, not to mention its haunting melodies, proved a crowd-pleaser of the first order. It's since screened at several other festivals, and will be going on a seven-city tour in October
"It's amazing to see your work on a big screen — especially me being a cinephile, someone who loves movies and story in general," says Faulkner, a freelance location manager and film producer who moved from Kalamazoo, Mich., to Baltimore in 1998. 'I was really happy to notice — it's a real movie. It's there; it stands up on the big screen.'"
There's something very film-festivalish about this film, and I mean that in the best possible way.

We don't learn much about what the film is about in the trailer, but we learn a lot about what it feels like.

The Slippers

Morgan White
90 minutes

Saturday December 3, 2016 4:00pm - 6:00pm 
Anchorage Museum 
Sunday December 11, 2016 12:00pm - 1:30pm 

Alaska Experience - SMALL

From Letter Box:
"THE SLIPPERS pulls back the Wizard’s curtain on the unbelievable story and cultural impact of Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz.  Through first-hand accounts and archival interviews, THE SLIPPERS will detail the life of the Ruby Slippers after their sale at the famed 1970 MGM auction. Discovered by costumer Kent Warner, it is unclear how many pairs were found and how many pairs exist. That mystery has only helped to propel the shoes to the forefront of the Hollywood memorabilia market. They have been bought, stolen, and coveted by many. They are considered the most important piece of Hollywood memorabilia and the catalyst for the creation of Hollywood memorabilia collecting."
From an interview with director White at Hammer To Nail:
HtN: So how about access? Did you have any issues there, interview-wise, or footage-wise?
 MW: Footage-wise wasn’t so hard. I spent a lot of time trying to collect stuff. So I became very obsessed with the idea that I should collect as much of the material that’s in the film as possible, because I’m making a movie about collecting. So a lot of the things that are in there come from 16mm prints that I bought, on eBay, or on the black market of 16mm-print collecting. Or I bought magazines and newspapers and articles and…whatever I could find on eBay. So in terms of that stuff, it was just me spending time looking for it. Access-wise, for interviews, I mean, everybody was pretty great. Michael Shaw, who was one of the owners of the shoes, he was a little bit complicated to get, because he’s a little bit complicated of a person…
From the interview, it's clear this is movie is about collecting movie memorabilia, not just the Ruby Slippers.

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