Wednesday, February 14, 2007

SF IndieFest 2007 - Day Five. Oh, ok, Day SIX!

My little brain was confused today and I screwed up my viewing schedule at the SF IndieFest. Yet again, I saw only a single program. I will make up for it tomorrow, though!!

(Oh, and a word on my 'Day Count'. I have this anal fixation in referring to "Opening Night" as Day 0, and then starting the count of Day 1 on the next day. I am the only person in the world that seems to do that. So, I will adjust the count starting with today.)

"Stalking Santa" (dir. Greg Kiefer, US, 2006, 85 mins.) This was an exceptionally clever mockumentary about a research project into the existence of Santa Claus. William Shatner lends his best "National Geographic voice" as the narrator. The performances by the cast are quietly and believably understated. Chris Clark and Lisa Clark play husband and wife (as they are in real life). Chris' portrayal of an almost sadly obsessed 'santa-ologist' and his life work proving that Santa is real plays off of Lisa's long suffering, yet supportive spouse. She can steal a shot with just a quick glance at the camera, which expresses her love and her frustration with her husband. It is a terrific performance. Chris Clark's performance is nearly marathon in size. His dialogue is non-stop and his arc from hope to desperation and back is played without pathos. He has an assistant, played by Daryn Tufts, who has the unfortunate role of being the sidekick in a parody that needs to be played straight. His character is given a bit too much quirkiness to pull off the illusion. However, he does maintain an innocence that supports the story, where just an inkling of cynicism would deflate it.

The subtlety of the performances contribute greatly to the mockumentary. If it were not for the outrageous subject matter, there might be doubt as to whether or not the plot was real! Also, the mock-ups of hard evidence (cave paintings, recordings, photos, etc.) are just too fun and give away the slender premise. There are interviews with a score of children, which lighten up the film, as well as my own cynicism about how 'cute' it could have been. There is an earnestness and sincerity of tone that carries the premise. Even William Shatner's deadpan narration belies any disbelief and avoids the self-parody that could have destroyed, or at least distracted the audience from the gentle wit of the piece.

The film has found a distributor and it is more than worth a look.

Maxxxxx re "Stalking Santa": "Bless you!"

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