the Telluride Film Festival
The Kid With A Bike is a film by the Dardenne brothers, who brought “The Child” to the Telluride Film Festival a few years back. There is a strong family resemblance between the films: durable but trouble prone protagonists in gritty, lower class struggles where their every step forward seems to result in a step back and who’s troubles are mostly self-inflicted, and yet sympathetic and identifiable responses to difficult circumstances.
Thomas Doret plays a little boy named Cyril who’s proof to all external harm, but victim to the internal consequences of being abandoned by his father. He is adopted by an attractive and indomitable hair dresser played by Cecile de France who has an affinity for Cyril that seems driven by something strong, but offscreen.
The story moves Cyril from victim to victimizer and finally to redemption in a way that is satisfying and compelling.
I saw the following films at the Telluride Film Festival. I’ll try to get around to adding a few notes on each:
- Chico and Rita
- Oka! Amerikee
- The Illusionist
- Moana: A Story of the South Seas
- The First Movie
- Precious Life
- Inside Job
- Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
- The Way Back
- Le Quattro Volte
- Tamara Drewe
- Never Let me Go
- Of Gods and Men
- Black Swan
The film festival was excellent, as always. The films selected are rarely anything less than excellent, so reviews tend to range from good to superlative. It is probably the best film festival to attend for people who really love films. While the environment is low-key and friendly, the festival is attended by luminaries of the film industry and most films are introduced by the directors. Technically the festival is flawless and some of the venues are fitted with top of the line projection and sound equipment.
Carolyn and I saw the Miscreants of Taliwood at the Telluride Film Festival last September and had an opportunity to talk with the director, George Gittoes. We felt the movie was an important record and George an important resource for the people we work with in DC and arranged to have him come for a screening.
Miscreants is the only western film by the only western observer in the Tribal region of Pakistan along the Afghan border during the tumultuous period starting with the siege of the Red Mosque/Lal Masjid in June of 2007 and including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
This is a unique document, the sole direct, ground-level view of the geographic heart of Taliban ideology and a core operations center for Al Qaeda. Further, the opportunity to speak with Gittoes is particularly exceptional as his two years in the region were marked by extraordinary encounters that he was unable to incorporate into his documentary because “when people are pointing guns at you, taking out your camera gets you killed.”
We are screening it tonight, Wednesday, February 24th at 8pm at the Letelier Theater at 3251 Prospect Street, NW (upper courtyard – above Café Milano) Wash, DC 20007 202-338-5835. Admission is free. A parking garage is located between Café Milano and Café Peacock.
There will be a Q & A with George Gittoes immediately following the screening.
I saw The White Ribbon at the Telluride Film Festival. It’s a well crafted film about some very problematic children in Germany just before the first world war.
The movie is intended to in some way illuminate a fertile ground that permits fascism to later grow. While I found the characters interesting and the cinematography particularly beautiful in some scenes, I did not find anything in the story that seemed to suggest that these people were atypically prepared to turn fascist.
The premise seems to be that the children have committed some particularly brutal and random crimes (stringing a wire in the path of a horse and breaking the shoulder of the rider, tying another child up and caning him, tying yet another up and possibly blinding him) and that these “punishments” were “visited” on the children of sinners (except the first, visited on the sinner himself or perhaps on his horse), as justified in a letter left with the last.
That children would commit atrocious acts of brutality is hardly unique and certainly insufficient as an explanation for the rise of the Nazi party. Further, the parent’s “sins” are not particularly shocking, though the doctor isn’t overwhelmingly sympathetic despite having a particularly funny sex scene.
It is a well-constructed character study, if a bit slow; a story of some complex and dramatic events, if lacking a strong conclusion; but not for me a revelatory view of the foundations of fascism.
I saw Red Riding at the Telluride Film Festival. It is a three part story of a corrupt police force in Yorkshire over three different eras, each marked by murders. As the series goes on, the weight of the unsolved crimes accumulates until it reaches a breaking point in the third, 1983.
Each movie was done by a different director, and the first, 1974, was the best. It had the strongest story line and the best acting. Andrew Garfield as a reporter was particularly good. 1980, about the yorkshire ripper, seemed to stand somewhat apart from the trilogy, though it did advance certain aspects of the story of police corruption. The last, 1983, brought the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion and was certainly a powerful bit of storytelling, but I found it somewhat burdened by flashback references to the earlier movies that proved a little confusing given the complex story line.
The series was well received at Telluride and many people thought it was one of the best in the festival. I enjoyed it very much, though I was glad I watched the whole series through in one sitting.