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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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SIFF 2011: First Weekend

Posted by gck Thursday, June 2, 2011

I had such a great SIFF last year, and I really wanted to note down all of my impressions, but then life kept moving and I never got around to finishing it. It’s probably going to be the same this year, but it doesn’t mean I can’t give it a shot. :)

Me and Kung Fu PandaI volunteered two shifts for SIFF before I started seeing films. The first one was a special events shift, working the opening gala in Renton. SE is a nice change of pace from ushering… there’s a lot more to do, but it’s much harder work for the number of vouchers you get. I was clearing trash from tables, changing the coffee dispenser, and stuff like that. On the plus side, I got to eat the gala food, sampling some yummy stuff from Renton restaurants like Tea Palace, Naan-n-Curry, and Papaya and chatting with the restaurant people. Miss Washington was at the gala, too, but I didn’t talk to her. :) And… the owners of the venue offered me a job, in case I wanted to pick up some extra server shifts on weekends! (My mom laughed for a full minute after I told her this)

Second shift was a pretty busy one at Pacific Place. We were running pretty late for the first film, so it was really hectic getting everyone in, but I got to see a giant panda. =) Still not quite sure why Kung Fu Panda 2 was screening at SIFF, but oh well. They let us run off for an hour in between films, so I rushed down to Pike Place Market to stand in the Piroshky Piroshky line (potato onion cheese FTW). After the shift, I bummed around Seattle for a little while before seeing my first film.

Cairo 678

Cairo 678 (Egypt, 2010) – I really liked this film. I really did not like the circumstances under which I got to see this film. Apparently, Pacific Place had technical issues in the second film of my volunteer shift (I’d left by then) and they took a lot of time to try to resolve the issues afterwards, resulting in this film starting at least 20 minutes late. And they didn’t seem to resolve it because we saw green bars and screen flickering a number of times through the film. Several people walked out. What a pity. Then I had to haul ass over to Seattle Center to catch an opera, and I would have had plenty of time if things had been on schedule. Annnnyway, this film followed three women and their responses to sexual harassment, which apparently is common (but not commonly spoken of) in Cairo. A wealthy woman goes with her husband to a soccer game, and she gets pulled away in the crowd and men sexually assault her. Afterwards, her husband says the pain is too much for HIM to deal with. Right. So they separate and the wife starts these courses on how to deal with sexual harassment and advertises on TV. The second character is a well-behaved Muslim wife who tries to take cabs to work instead of buses because she’s groped every day on the bus. She attends some of these classes, and eventually she gets so pissed off that she starts stabbing the gropers in the groin (audience cheers!!!). The third woman, against advice from her relatives, files the first sexual harassment case in Egypt. And of course, people put the blame on her. Men suck.


Apart Together

Apart Together (China, 2010) – Made the journey down to Renton to see this one. Nice that the IKEA Performing Arts Center has a huge parking lot! Not a ton of dining options in that part of Renton that were open for Sunday lunch, but I happened to stumble upon a hole-in-the-wall called Geri’s Casual Dining and picked up a catfish sandwich that brought back some Louisiana memories. Okay, the movie. While I was watching it, I didn’t love it. The acting was good, but it was slow. Even being Chinese-American, I think there were a lot of subtleties that went right past me. The background is one that would resonate with a lot of Chinese people. There’s a couple with a baby on the way, and they’re really in love. Unfortunately, they’re separated when all the KMT soldiers have to quickly flee to Taiwan, and they’re unable to reunite until many years later, when they allow people to return from Taiwan to visit their relatives. By that time, both have remarried. The woman’s family is closeknit and gathers at their house in an old neighborhood  where everyone knows everyone. The man’s wife has died, and his visit has a mission – to bring his old love with him back to Taiwan. The woman’s new husband is a well-developed, fantastically-acted charactor, definitely my favorite part of the film. The other characters seemed not very well developed – or did I miss the little nuances in their speech and behavior? Afterwards, I thought more about the film, and there was more to think over, ideas about sacrifice, the closeness of family, and differences between “old Asia” and “new Asia.”



How to Die in Oregon (USA, 2011) – Everyone talking about this film kept saying that it was a hard sell to get people to see a documentary about doctor-assisted suicide. Maybe I’m just morbid or something, but I didn’t need any convincing. It’s compelling subject matter, and I knew it would be a high quality documentary because it won the top documentary award at Sundance. Since I do live in one of the few states that already has a Death with Dignity law, that aspect of the film didn’t really affect me significantly. What did stand out to me was the how devastating a terminal illness diagnosis is to the person and his or her family. There were very different viewpoints about end-of-life treatment. One guy really wanted to die. One guy was extremely offended that Death with Dignity was an option offered to him. Then there were the in-betweeners, mostly people who would prefer a natural death unless it got to the point of extreme suffering, for themselves or their families. It was heart-warming to see the love in the families, but an important observation was that this love sometimes didn’t show itself when people didn’t understand or agree with the end-of-life decisions. I think it’s an important topic to be knowledgeable about and to discuss with your loved ones beforehand. This documentary has now been shown on HBO (not sure about the future schedule).

Wow, this post took way too long. I am never going to finish this series. :)

Film count: 3, Volunteer vouchers: 5


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