My first day at NBFF opened with a quick trip around the world through a shorts program, “Open My Mind Shortly.” From Taiwan came Braid a rather dark story of a widowed father trying to keep his daughter happy, but is unable to cope with the pressure. It lightens a bit at the end, though. In The Good Person¸ a Japanese wife is worried about her missing husband, but the man who comes home claiming to be him isn’t her husband. It’s a bit of the theater of the absurd. Crescendo is by a Mexican film director, but takes us back to 18th Century Germany for a tale of a life filled with sour notes and the beautiful music is becomes. Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest is a Holocaust’s survivor’s story animated by a ten-year old boy. Very nicely done. Distilled Love comes from Canada. A man locks himself and his girlfriend in their apartment with hope of fixing the troubles in their life. Shoot the Moon tells the story of a family that is dealing (or not) with effects of the recession and looming foreclosure.
Love Free or Die is the story of Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Episcopal Church and the controversy surround his ministry. At the once a decade Lambeth Conference of all the bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion, he was the only bishop not invited. The role of LGBT people in the church is an ongoing issue. Bishop Robinson has been a lightning rod for the church. He has faced anger and threats, but he has faced them with courage and continues to serve with compassion. (HJ interview with Bishop Robinson and filmmaker Macky Alston.)
Next I watched Dreamworld a story of a man who longs to work for Pixar and the eccentric young woman he has just met who convinces him to make a road trip to follow his dream. Will they fall in love? Will their dark secrets be too much? Will he end up hurt? Will he find a way to express his creativity? I was a bit disappointed that the film felt the need to explain itself at one point. Still it was an enjoyable experience.
When a young woman who has dropped out of law school to be an artist ends up spending a day working in an ice cream truck (while severely hung over) she meets a wide range of odd customers. Free Samples is a comic way of sharing a few bits of wisdom that will allow her to get past the place she is stuck in her life. A nice cast (including Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, and Tippi Hedren), but it’s really all about Weixler’s character. The others come in and out of her life, but they bring possibilities that she doesn’t expect.
Also playing yesterday was a film I saw through a publicist, Mariachi Gringo, the story of a young man from Iowa who becomes enamored with mariachi music and travels to Mexico to learn the art. I was expecting a film that wanted to be a Will Ferrell comedy. Instead I found an engaging story of someone who is willing to leave everything behind in hopes of finding more in life. We see a respect for different cultures and what it means to follow one’s dreams.