Thursday, May 04, 2006

49th San Francisco International Film Festival - Day 14, aka Closing Night

I start the final (and comparatively easy) day with the animated shorts program 'Drawing Lines', which included nine selections. The tally for this group: I LOVED two of them (and actually obtained one on-site!); I LIKED two of them; I TOLERATED three and was DULLED by two:

"Tales of Mere Existence" (dir. Lev Yilmaz, USA 2006, 7 min.) Lev has screened at the SFIndie Fest in numerous years and is FINALLY at the SFIFF!! His stuff is reminiscent of early Don Hertzfeld ("L'Amore" "Billy's Balloon"), but his screenplays read like poetry and his artwork only punctuates the intense verbiage. I LOVE his stuff and was thrilled that he was present and selling his latest collection at the theater!

"At the Quinte Hotel" (dir. Bruce Alcock, Canada 2005, 4 min.) This too was poetry set to visuals. Here the poem is by Al Purdy (whom I am not familiar with) and the visuals are a kaleidoscope of techniques and media. Though the animation served more as a background to the fabulous poem, it was still a wonder to look at.

"Never Live Above a Psychic" (dir. Steve Gentile, USA 2005, 8 min.) Perhaps the most crudely concocted of the program, it had a twisted screenplay as a family of psychics torment the neighbor upstairs. Sort of clever, but could have been 'cleaned up' visually.

"The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello" (dir. Anthony Lucas, Australia 2005, 27 min.) Perhaps the most visually complex and technically complicated of the entries (it was nominated for an Oscar this year), this also has one of the more convoluted screenplays. This was the second time I've seen this, and it is BEAUTIFUL to watch, though sort of confusing to follow. I ALMOST LOVE it, though it isn't much fun to sit through once the shock of the astounding visuals begins to wear off.

"Home Delivery" (dir. Elio Quiroga, Spain 2005, 11 min.) A DIZZYINGLY rendering of the Stephen King short story. The animator seemed more intent on getting us nauseous with the flying landscapes and spinning camera, than letting us enjoy the nifty little horror story.

"Cosmetic Emergency" (dir. Martha Colburn, USA 2005, 9 min.) Technically one of the most challenging to pull off, as Colburn animates with oil paintings. It was a bit long for the point that it made. And it made that point. Repeatedly. With BOLD STROKES. Literally.

"2/14" (dir. Xi-Yan Chen, Taiwan 2005, 4 min.) Eh. Twisted and ill-fated date that has been seen before.

Just for the record, as I'd hate to give them any more energy than they took from me: "Luukkaankangas: Updated, Revisited" (dir. Dariusz Kowalski, Austria 2004, 8 min) and "A Room Nearby" (dirs. Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger, USA 2005, 28 min.)

From these little bits of fantasy, I launched into some gnarly reality with:
"Shooting Under Fire" (dirs. Sacha Mirzoeff, Bettina Borgfeld, Germany, 2005, 78 mins.), which documented the daily life of some Reuters cameramen working in Israel and Gaza and points in between. What they see nearly everyday is harrowing. The film explores how they manage it: the logistics, the collecting of photos, the reporting and most importantly the emotional and physical toll the experience takes on them. Though the film won't change the world, it serves more as a commemoration to war zone photographers than anything else.

And, finally, enter the Castro theater for the Closing Night 'ceremony' and film. The HFD was superbly dressed tonight! He gave a gushing little speech about the success of this year's festival. He even seemed choked up as he praised his staff, who 'far exceeded [his] expectations' and would pit them against the finest staffs he has worked with in NYC, to paraphrase him. He proceeded to announce the Golden Gate and FIPRESCI awards and the Skyy Prize. As usual, I missed most of them.

The SKYY Prize for the best first feature: "Taking Father Home" by Ying Liang.
The FIPRESCI jury prize: "Half Neslon" by Ryan Fleck. (Saw it, but it PALED next to "Brothers of the Head"!)
The Golden Gate Award (GGA) winners:
Documentary Feature: "Workingman's Death" by Michael Glawogger; Bay Area Documentary Feature: "Jonestown: Life and Death of People's Temple"
Documentary Short: "lot 63 grave 3" by Sam Greene (eh, it was ok, I guess); Bay Area Documentary Short: "Phoenix Dance" by Karina Epperlein.
Narrative Short: "Love at 4 PM" by Sebastian Alfie (Saw it, but this wasn't such a strong selection. I'd have tossed it to "Big Girl")
Bay Area Non-Documentary Short "Lost and Found" by Natalija Vekic (which I SLEPT through and would have given it to "The Light".)
Animated Short: "At the Quinte Hotel" by Bruce Alcock (Cool!)
The New Visions Award: "site specific_LAS VEGAS 05" by Olivo Barbieri (Hmmm... well, I would go with "Suspended 2" - the altered trip across the Bay Bridge.)
The Award to a Work For Kids and Families: "Sirah" by Cristine Spindler (which POUNDED its message of tolerance, but whatever...)
The Works for Television Awards were "Seeds of Doubt" with Bing Can Sing, and "They Chose China" with Thornton Dial.
The Youth Work prize: "Slip of the Tongue" by Karen Lum, which was pretty fabulous!

The HFD then introduced our special guests: Lily Tomlin (who was a HOOT!!! of course!) and Virginia Madsen to introduce the film of the night:

"A Prairie Home Companion" (dir. Robert Altman, USA, 2006, 103 mins.) (which I was able to attend thanks to the generosity of Roger and the URGING of Sue Jean!). Is there anything that Meryl Streep can NOT do?! (I expect her next project could be "The Peggy Fleming Story" and she will do her own figure skating!) She sings! She spars with Lily Tomlin and Garrison Keillor fabulously. Of course. Kevin Kline pops up as 'Guy Noir' and proves that a great actor is what was needed to pull off "The Pink Panther" franchise, as no set piece or prop is safe if it is within his reach! Virginia Madsen has the weakest role in the film as... well, I wouldn't want to give THAT away! She does her 'early Jessica Lange in 'All That Jazz'' best, though. Keillor is almost background here, as Streep, Tomlin, Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly have a party of a time, showing us they can sing. It is a pleasant enough experience, treading hideously close to being 'cute' though. (I HATE 'cute'!) Streep will probably get another Oscar nomination for this. Or for spinning plates. Or for reading the phone book.

Before bringing Tomlin and Madsen on stage for the Q&A, The HFD announced the Audience Favorite Award winners: Feature: "Look Both Ways". I think. I DO know that it was NOT "Brothers of the Head," which was ROBBED, I tell you! ROBBED!!. The Documentary was sort of confusing, but I believe it went to "Who Killed the Electric Car?" or "Encounter Point". (I would have picked "The Bridge" myself). He said it was so close that one won and the other was an "Honorable Mentions".

Anyway, Tomlin was FABULOUS, of course! Madsen was acting a bit of a diva and kept talking OVER Tomlin! tsk! tsk! She would interrupt with a series of L.A.-like gushing over anything that Tomlin had done in the film and restating their combined LOVE for Mr. Altman. She was annoying. Madsen did have incredible shoes, though! My favorite moment from Tomlin: "My scenes were all with Meryl Streep. She wasn't my first choice." HA!!

So, restating MY faves:
Narrative Feature: "Brothers of the Head" The film is so seriously composed as a documentary that I was unable to distinguish whether this was true or not! And it did feature some hot conjoined twin-on-twin action! Yes, I can be a dirty, dirty boy!

Documentary Feature: "The Bridge" , a powerful little flick that had audiences talking for days!

Narrative Short: "Big Girl" was saucy and sort of poignant, which is a really good mix for me.

Documentary Short: Hmmmm... I saw a couple, including the Golden Gate Award winner, but none stick out in my head.

Animated Feature: Not that there is any competition, but if there were, the evening with Deerhoof and their performance with "Heaven and Earth Magic" was fabulous!

Animated Short: "I am (NOT) Van Gogh" was visually volatile, funny and fabulous looking!

Tomorrow: I sleeeeeeeep...


Maxxxxx said...

re 'Drawing Lines': "Such a pretty bird!"
re "Shooting Under Fire": (it would be crass to comment)
re "A Prairie Home Companion": "Doobie doobie doo-ooo!"
re Lily Tomlin: "I love you!"
re Awards: "eck!"
re MY favorites: "Such a good bird!"

Paul (Atlanta) said...

Sleep well!!
I am so in awe that you can keep that kind of schedule. Did you try to do this when you worked full time? And for you not to be turning these in to any publications to run, its shameful of you, you are quite talented. You are wearing yourself out and getting no compensation. We'll talk at the beach house young man. thanks.

Jay, the Angry Little Man said...

hee hee... thanks!

Well, yes I did do this when I worked full time, too. Crazy, I know... >:)
I shopped last years stuff around before the festival started and received very little (if any) feedback. boo hoo.
Now that this year is done, I'll re-shop these around in time for the gay/lezzie film fest which starts in 6 weeks. In any case, the stuff is 'out there' and being slowly found.

Beach House!!!! Woo hooo!!!!

Kimberly said...

Now that SFIFF is over, you canconcentrate on sharing your views on TAR
--I'm guessing you have had no time to watch!

Brian said...

Actually it was Look Both Ways that won the audience award over Brothers of the Head. I missed them both so I'm not riled up about it. Hopefully I'll find a way to catch the latter, on your recommendation.

Jay, the Angry Little Man said...

Ah!!! Thank you! I'll edit/errata it now!
I was getting pretty loopy by the time I got home and started typing! ;)

Sandra said...

Night, night and sweet dreams. Enjoyed your commentary as ever. Reading about your attendance is better than anything I could see at the SFIFF. I do want to see A Prairie Home Companion because I've been a long time listener to the radio program. Do you listen?