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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: Second Weekend

Posted by gck Thursday, June 9, 2011

In real time, SIFF is almost over, just four days left to go. I’m getting a bit filmed out so I’m finding myself working more shifts and seeing fewer films. And I sure have a lot of catching up to do with my blog entries…


I look at the SIFF Flickr page every once in awhile. It’s usually the same old pics of people having fun at galas and directors answering questions at screenings. But the other day, I was looking at the set icons on the side and went, “OMG! I think that’s me and Alexis!” It’s actually, me, Alexis, and David, but David wasn’t visible in the icon crop. It’s us walking into the theater to see Littlerock and me looking like a doofus. I know photographers took pictures of me and David while waiting in line for another screening, so maybe that one will end up there, too. I feel somewhat important, since all the other photos in that set are of an actor answering questions. :)


Littlerock (USA, 2010) – Could be considered slow or boring to some people, but I love this sort of film. Quiet, subtle, and beautiful, Littlerock explores small town America through the eyes of a Japanese girl who doesn’t speak any English. The film does a fantastic job of putting you in her shoes, seeing how things we normally don’t think twice about in America can be weird or amazing to someone from a different culture. The characters are also great, especially the American character Cory who appoints himself the personal guardian of Atsuko and her brother because he’s decided he’s in love with her. You get to see both sides of communication without a common language: the amazing potential for humans to understand each other and the incredible frustration when the most important communication doesn’t translate. At the end, Atsuko and her brother end up at Manzanar, a memorial at the site of a Japanese internment camp. The actor (who played a minor character) mentioned during the Q&A that he never knew about those camps before, despite having grown up in the Pacific Northwest. Good thing it was mentioned in this film, I guess?

Mysteries Of Lisbon

Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal, 2010) – It’s 270 minutes long. And despite the announcement that there would be an intermission, the “Part 2” screen came up only a few moments after the “End of Part 1” screen. Oops. My butt was ready to be out of that seat by the end! I knew from the length and description that there would be lots of interwoven stories told in this period piece. It starts out being about a little orphan boy living in a church and a priest who seems to know everyone’s secrets. From there, you end up meeting many characters and getting a lot of information. By the third hour or so, the pattern started getting a little repetitive. A character would say, “Let me tell you a story,” the audience would snicker, and we’d see a mildly interesting flashback that involved one or more other characters. Some of the stories were interesting and drew you in – for me, I liked the plotlines about the boy and his parents the most – and others just felt like pieces of information. The love stories tended to be pretty lame and obviously written by a man – if there was more of an emotional connection, it would have gotten me more interested.

Pajaros de Papel

Paper Birds (Spain, 2010) – Craziness is attending a 270 minute film and then rushing (because the film started and finished late) over to see a 125 minute film. I didn’t really pay attention to this film when I made my original list, but when I saw that it was selling quickly and getting good reviews, I got a ticket. Keeping my schedule flexible definitely paid off with this one, it was one of my favorites of the festival. It’s one of those heartwarming and heartbreaking stories with a lot of similarities to Life is Beautiful. Set in Franco’s Spain after the Spanish Civil War (a handful of SIFF films were set during this exact time period this year, I was surprised), we follow a vaudeville troupe attempting to survive and entertain. Loss due to the war pushes three of the main characters into an unlikely family: an older gay man, a man turned reckless by the loss of his wife and son, and a spunky child who lost both of his parents in the war (played by a very talented boy who is a real life orphan). The director (Emilio Aragon) gave some interesting information during the Q&A… he comes from generations of clowns and performers, so many of the stories were true. His father was in the film (at the end). And he composed all of the music for the film himself. Pretty amazing.

I volunteered at SIFF Cinema Sunday morning. It was Shortsfest weekend, but the ones during my shift weren’t very popular. Sadly, they were enforcing the official policy of not letting us see films during our shift, so we just sat around during the first one, This Woman’s Work. I left to pick up some food at the Folklife Festival (my shift was early enough that parking was easy, thank goodness). The second set of shorts, In Extremis, was a little busier but still pretty slow. Our shift finished at this point so we were allowed to watch, but if you take a look at the photo on the film page, you’ll see clearly why I was not interested.

Late Autumn 

Late Autumn (South Korea, 2010) – Another one I picked up both because Alexis was interested in it and it was selling out quickly. I think both of the screenings ended up being on standby. It got hyped up a lot because it was a Korean film set in Seattle with a lot of Seattle-y shots. I also realized afterwards that I had seen the lead actress (Tang Wei) in last year’s Crossing Hennessy. Overall, I thought the film was okay. I liked it enough to be interested, but I wasn’t engaged the whole time. It got slow and the girl was overly mopey and silent. The producer told us it was a remake of an old, famous Korean film by the same name. Some great scenes, and I did feel the actress’s pain pretty well. I probably would have left with a more favorable impression if I didn’t go in with expectations.

Film count: 10, Volunteer vouchers: 8


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