Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival - Day 2

The Farewell

The Farewell was a not very short short. It was, just like Kings of Nowhere, beautifully shot and meditative, with charming moments. But it was also really boring and way too long. If this is the filmmaking style that's in vogue now, count me out.

Overburden is a touching but depressing film about coal mining in West Virginia (particularly mountain top removal), told from the perspective of two women on either side of the issue (one for, one against). It's a deeply personal look into the effects that coal has on individual people, which most of us who don't live that life wouldn't get to see without this film. I can legitimately say that I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I got excited. It was all the feels. It did me feeling a little hopeless, even though there were some victories. But unfortunately that's the way life is often times, and this is a documentary after all. And it's also nice to see a film that is offering actual solutions instead of just presenting a problem.

Crooked Candy

This was a great example of what a short film. It was actually short, it was paced well, nicely shot, and it probably took the filmmaker a few days to make. It definitely made me want to go out and find a compelling short that I could film in a day or two, especially since this film has hit a lot of the major festivals.

Curious Worlds

Curious Worlds is a film about artist, David Beck. The film is worth seeing just to see David’s works, many of which are in private collections so you wouldn’t get to see them on your own. The intricacy of every piece is astounding and the film does a great job of helping you to appreciate his work – a woman behind me gasped literally dozens of times throughout the movie at the awe of it all. That being said, the film was much too long and got a little boring. I almost fell asleep and the only thing that kept me awake was not wanting to miss a cool piece of art.

The Land


The Land was a short. I didn’t see the corresponding feature because I was just a little burnt out after two features and two shorts, so I took a break. But The Land was exactly what I needed to perk up my mood a bit. It’s about an adventure playground in Wales where the kids can play with things like fire and tools and rope swings and they can climb trees freely. They’re supervised, but the supervisors only really make suggestions and don’t step in unless it’s a true emergency. The motto the woman who started it quotes is, “broken bones are better than broken spirits.” The kids are hilarious, too. It’s a super entertaining film and it shows that letting kids learn and make mistakes is important, and they usually seemed to make the right decisions in the end. Apparently there are adventure playgrounds all over the world, even a few in the US.

3 1/2 Minutes

3 1/2 minutes is about the murder of teenager Jordan Davis, the dangers of Florida's "stand your ground" law, and the trial of his killer, Michael Dunn. It's obviously incredibly timely with everything going on in the country right now. It's also pretty terrifying how obliviously racist Michael Dunn is - Michael Dunn probably didn't think of himself as racist, but his lack of self-awareness of his racism is exactly what made him so dangerous and what ended up killing Jordan Davis. The filmmakers were the one crew allowed in the courtroom, so they had great access. They also obtained footage from when Michael Dunn turned himself in, and phone calls to his fiance from prison, in which he says crazy ignorant things about the kids like "they're gangster rappers."

The Wolfpack

The Wolfpack is one of those stranger-than-fiction scenarios. It's about a family with 7 children (6 boys who all look virtually identical, just slightly different ages) who were basically sequestered in their Manhattan project apartment by their not-entirely-sane-and-sort-of-abusive father, never really allowed to leave, and living their life through movies. It's delightful to watch them re-enact their favorite films. They were particularly fond of Tarintino so there was a lot of Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. But the film is serious too. It's a life I could never imagine living, and how they managed to turn out relatively well-adjusted is astounding to me. The filmmaker apparently stumbled upon the boys on the streets of NYC one day, on one of their rare outings, and they were all dressed identically and had long ponytails, which piqued her interest. Quite the story to stumble upon.

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