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A vanguard organization set in the Silicon Valley, Cinequest’s uniqueness and impact result from being ahead of the curve in the powerful integration of creativity and technology. Cinequest fuses the world of the filmed arts with that of Silicon Valley’s innovation to empower youth, artists and innovators to create and connect - driving transformations and a better tomorrow. Cinequest does this through Cinequest Picture The Possibilities and Cinequest Film Festival.
Cinequest 18 – March 2008 - Weekend Viewing and Anywhere, USA
Cinequest 18 is turning out to be a particularly strong festival this year.
The quality of filmmaking on view is quite staggering, and, in this reviewer’s opinion, surpasses previous years for quality of storytelling and technical accomplishment.
Becoming John Ford – United States
I began my weekend with this well-crafted and insightful documentary by director Nick Redman. Through archival footage, interviews with the great man’s contemporaries and film clips, a multi-dimensional portrait is created of possibly America’s greatest ever director. The documentary does not shy away from the loutish side of Ford, revealing his anti-social behavior and contempt for his peers, but it also explores the beauty of his craft, ultimately painting him a true Jekyll and Hyde. A fascinating film.
The Aerial – Argentina
A visual treat awaited me in this extraordinary offering from director Esteban Sapir. In an oppressed city of workers, mind-controlled by the output of their television sets, one family makes a stand against their shadowy rulers who are not only content to steal the voices of the populace, but also their very words. Sapir’s film delighted on the visual level, but I found his heavy-handed symbolism a bit leaden, culminating in two characters (the only ones who can speak) technologically crucified on a swastika and a Star of David. The photoshopping and compositing were used effectively and humorously, and I have never before seen such an innovative use of subtitles.
AFR – Denmark
My weekend continued with this amazing mockumentary from Danish filmmaker Morten Hartz Kaplers. I have seen many fake documentaries in my time, but Kapler’ contribution to the genre stands head and shoulders above the others. His attention o detail is brilliant, and his actors are convincing. The integration of his actors and stry into real world events is seamless, and helps o sell the story of the Danish Prime Minister’s homosexual relationship with a young anarchist, the minister’s rise to power, and subsequent assassination. With so many parallels to be made with current events (Bhutto’s death, Obama’s exploited Africa photo), AFR is not only timely, but forces the audience to reconsider what they are being force-fed by their government and the media.
Sherman’s Way – United States
[img_assist|nid=10326|title=Cast and Crew of Sherman's Way|desc=Photo: Neil Baker|link=node|align=center|width=550|height=195]
So far during the festival, I had only been impressed by the foreign offerings I had watched, but that was until I encountered Sherman’s Way, directed by Craig Saavedra. ‘Sherman’s’ is a delightfully funny odd couple movie that stars Michael Shulman as the uptight, NY law student, Sherman, and James Le Gros, excellent in his role as a Lebowski-ish mentor and dubious role model. Somewhat of a marked improvement on other U.S. ‘comedies’, Sherman’s Way is actually funny, with engaging performances (ably supported by Enrico Colantoni and Brooke Nevin) and perfect pacing.
Anywhere, USA – United States
I concluded the weekend with this Sundance Jury Award winning film directed by Chusy Haney-Jardine. ‘Anywhere’ is a superbly written (Chusy and his wife, Jennifer MacDonald) anthology of three slightly interwoven tales that explore the dark psyche of modern America through Chusy’s own misgivings. Chusy decided to use anecdotes from his own life, describing them as ‘fictional representations of true life’. He and MacDonald wrote reams of notes before embarking on the actual script, and even then, much of the script was written one or two hours before that day’s shooting. Because of this, the editing process became much like that of the documentary filmmaker, with hours of improvised footage being whittled down to the 123 minute running time. Luckily, the film was shot using the solid-state technology of the Panasonic HVX, so film costs were not an option. The camera worked very well for them, and the cinematography by Patrick Rousseau was outstanding, with each segment buoyed by its own texture and palette.
[img_assist|nid=10310|title=Patrick Rousseau and Chusy|desc=Photo: Neil Baker|link=node|align=center|width=550|height=441]
In a deliberate attempt to use non-actors, the filmmakers trawled the local Wal-Mart and fast food joints to recruit their cast, and their choices were well judged; everyone turned in great performances despite their nerves at having to deliver hastily written monologues. A stand out performance, however, comes from Chusy’s own daughter, Perla Haney-Jardine (Kill Bill), who mesmerized us with her innocence, confusion and anger in the ‘Loss’ segment. Perla was a joy to watch.
When I asked Chusy about his distribution options following the win at Sundance, he replied that he was not getting caught up in the frenzy that would normally accompany such an accolade, but rather he was sitting back and perusing any serious offers that came his way. I hope he doesn’t wait too long, as this is a film that I think we could benefit from seeing.
-- Neil Baker
The Bulletin Board
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