Better late than never…
My Favorite Feature: Precious
As a general rule, I see documentaries at the SDFF because I figure they’re less likely to show in theaters. And although I did see several this year, I started with Precious, which is making quite the stir in the film world. As refreshing as it is to watch a film about an obese black teenage girl (as opposed to whatever filmmakers think most 18-year-old boys want to see), what made the film for me was the confession by the mother at the end. It was awful and heartbreaking and completely understandable and disgusting, all at once. It took the film to an entirely new level.
Shorts from Colorado
Next was Winners and Losers, a collection of Colorado shorts. My favorite was The Unrecoverable Loss of Eugene, a hilarious take on Victorian and modern sexual mores. Perhaps my husband will have more to say in the comments (hint, hint).
Second Feature: Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Go see Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench to watch the female lead break into song and the male lead play his trumpet. Go for the experimental take on musicals and story. Don’t spend so much time trying to follow the love story, as I did; just enjoy the music-fest.
My Favorite Documentary: Still Bill
Still Bill won the People’s Choice Documentary Feature award for its warm portrayal of Bill Withers’s decision to step away from fame. It opens with “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” and closes with “Grandma’s Hands.” It has good cinematography, good music, and good stories. If you can’t see it in the theater, try Netflix or Video Station in Boulder.
At this point I began to notice how many of the movies I chose had to do with music.
Third Feature: Crossing
Crossing had nothing to do with music. Written by two Texans who also starred as Manuel (the lead) and Diego (his camera-toting friend), it follows a Mexican ne’er-do-well who learns his father will be executed in Texas and runs north because he refuses to let his father leave him again. His pregnant wife protests, but he goes anyway, into his own personal comedy of errors.
Second Documentary: Turtle: The Incredible Journey
According to Britta Erickson, festival director, Turtle is another March of the Penguins. I disagree. The overwrought script read by Miranda Richardson got on my nerves. I did like the use of “she”; it’s nice that not all moviemakers feel adventures belong solely to male creatures. And there were beautiful images, especially the opening shot of the hatchling leaving its egg.
Third Documentary: Two Spirits
Like Turtle, this movie showed at the King Center across the parking lot from the Tivoli, where Starz’s main theaters are located. I used my membership privileges to get to the front of the huge line, though I’m not sure it really made a difference; I think all the seats there are pretty good. A documentary about the murder of Navajo teenager Fred Martinez, Two Spirits explores the traditional Navajo concept of gender (there are 4) and notes that it was common for Navajos to celebrate the lives of gay and lesbian children because they were thought to embody both genders and thus to represent the balance of life.
At the panel afterward, an activist from New York who came to Cortez, Colorado, to investigate the murder said this kind of hate crime happens every week. You can find more information at the Fred Martinez Project or the Two Spirit Society of Denver (a performance by several members is pictured here).
Fourth Documentary: The Duke of the Bachata
Made by local filmmaker Adam Taub (La Quinceañera), The Duke is about a Dominican musical genre dismissed as vulgar by the musical elite of that country. I wish I could say more about it, but it was my third film of the day, and I couldn’t stay awake. It was preceded by an amusing short, The Eighth Samurai, which Todd thought was a dead-on parody of Kurosawa.
Yet ANOTHER Documentary Seen After the SDFF: The Yes Men Fix the World
If you’re a liberal, and the idea of playing a prank on a multinational corporation makes you drool, go see this movie. Very amusing. I couldn’t believe that these guys kept getting away with their media stunts.