Wednesday gave me another chance to catch some of the shorts playing at the festival. I went to the shorts program titled “Able to Handle Anything Short” which included films where people face some sort of crisis. Intruder was a dark piece focusing on a family facing overwhelming issues when strange noises next door makes things even worse. The film was great for creating the mood, but had no real movement. An Insignificant Man tells the story of a street sweeper who seems to have no importance to the world, and yet…. It is a nice piece of storytelling through showing what is not there. Belly was an animated story set in a surreal world filled with strange animal/people hybrids. One of these must go rescue his brother who has been swallowed by a whale. I enjoyed this strange world. East of Berlin shows the struggles of a Vietnamese refugee in Germany. Spoonful was an interesting perspective of the relationship between three sisters, one of whom was the mothering sister. That relationship is lived out in a strange way. In Deep End a boy must deal with his older brother coming out to him and the anger within him as well as the anger from those around directed at his brother. In Shadows two women prisoners are violated and degraded. They only means of expression left to them is making hand shadows in the one spot of light from outside. The violence is a bit excessive and perhaps dwelt on a bit too long, but it is a moving film.
Must Come Down is a midlife crisis movie for 20-somethings. Ashley has quit his job and is on some sort of adventure. He has returned to his home town where he is basically stalking the house he lived in before his parents divorced. Holly is trying to get over a breakup and is looking for a job. These are two lonely, aimless people. I get that aimlessness is not uncommon at that point in life, but by the end of the film they are still just as lonely and aimless as when they started. There is no growth here.
The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia is a made for TV doc (comes in a bit under an hour) that looks more at the success of dyslexics than a real examination of what it is. This learning disability may make it hard for those afflicted, but they are often very intelligent and do well given the proper opportunities. Included in the film are interviews with dyslexic students from grade school up to grad school and prominent dyslexics such as Charles Schwab, Sir Richard Branson, and California Lt. Governor (and former San Francisco mayor) Gavin Newsom.
Terraferma tells the story of an Italian fisherman caught between traditions and modernity. His island is becoming more of a tourist haven than a fishing village. His boat is impounded after he rescues illegal immigrants at sea. The law of the land says you can’t do that. The law of the sea says you must. One of those he rescues is a pregnant woman who he takes to his home to give birth. What does it mean to do the right thing in such a setting? The islanders welcome the outside world in the tourists, but not in the immigrants looking for a better life or to be reunited with family. How far should people go in helping the immigrants? Is saving their life enough? Is harboring them too much? Can a case be made to actively help them on their journey?
One more day of festival ahead.