Tuesday, May 02, 2006

49th San Francisco International Film Festival - Day 11

I guess I could call this a day of histories...

"The Bridge" (dir. Eric Steel, USA, 2005, 93 mins.) is the documenting and filmed record of a half dozen suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge, along with profiles of the victims as provided by families and friends. It is a powerful little flick, given that you witness these deaths. But there's the rub. I think it is a very fine line between witnessing and exploiting, when you're talking about something as sensational as watching some one die. I was conflicted at the time, believing that the purpose was honorable, but that the method was questionable. I do not know if it is absolutely necessary to follow the victims as the hurtle into the bay water. I would think that maybe cutting away before the actual leap could be effective. However, that is just second guessing after the fact. During the Q&A, the director did project a very sincere demeanor and hoped that this would alert people to those around them who might be considering suicide. He also hopes that this will promote the installation of a high fence along the bridge itself.

Next up, "The Giant Buddhas" (dir. Christian Frei, Switzerland, 2005, 95 mins.), a documentary focusing on the giant Buddhas of Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, which were destroyed by the Taliban. It records the destruction and the cultural aftermath of the act, as well as attempts to 'rebuild' them. Frankly, I found this off target enough that it was irrelevant to me. In other words, instead of spending tens of millions of dollars to rebuild the monuments, shouldn't that go to the people who have been displaced by the wars? With that question in mind, it did not help matters that the style is extremely academic and fairly dull. Well, VERY dull. Yes, I will admit here that I dozed off in the middle third of the film concerning the efforts of archaeologists in the excavating of other giant Buddhas. I was attracted to the story at first, but found it to be unmeaningful to me. Particularly after having viewed "The Bridge" just moments before.

"A Short Film About The Indio Nacional (or the Prolonged Sorrow of Filipinos)" (dir. Raya Martin, Philippines, 2005, 96 mins.) is about as convoluted as the title might suggest. Without any historical background, one is left aimless in the midst of this modern silent film detailing a boy's journey into manhood right before a war in the Philippines at the turn of the century. And THAT explanation was what I gained from the Q&A. The film itself doesn't give you a clue as to what, when, where or who, for that matter. His black and white images are composed well enough as to be interesting to look at for the hour and a half. His screenplay is a pretentious mess, however.

And finally, the nearly shirtless HFD introduced another program in the KinoTek series. The live performance by Addictive TV, which is a three man 'cine-band' who present live mash-ups of video. Tonight's performance was "The Eye of the Pilot" which consisted of 8mm film from the 1950's, some of which was computer enhanced and animated. (You can see a 15 minute sample here.) This was sort of an odd event, in my opinion. Since the mash-up is not improvised due to constraint of having all of the material pre-programmed and ready for the edit, I don't really see the purpose of 'the performance' since it would be just as effective if it were presented on film/tape/dvd. During the Q&A, the leader compared it to a band playing an old standard. But I do not think that is exactly similar. I don't know, but this sort of had a 21st Century Euro-trash feel to it. I just left it feeling a bit underwhelmed by the concept.

The program was preceded by a compilation from "Optronica" which is apparently a video festival in London. The works were fairly sophisticated music videos, but music videos, nonetheless.

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

re "The Bridge": no comment in respect of the overtly sober subject matter
re "The Giant Buddhas": "Is it bedtime?"
re "The Short Film About...": "Do a poop!"
re "Addicted TV": Maxxxxx just STARES at it!