"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Sunday, April 11, 2010

AIFF Day Four: Paul Newman, Bag It, Lone Wolf, and The Most Dangerous Man in America!


Today I finally made it to one of the Talk Backs - these are panel discussions featuring filmmakers and I usually try to see them all; really enjoy this aspect of the festival; but for some reason that didn't work out this year. They are held in the beautiful Ashland Springs Hotel just up the block from the Varsity Theater. This one turned out to be a book talk, not a panel, but that was fine with me - nothing a book person likes better than a good author talk and this was a terrific one. Oregonian film critic Shawn Levy talked about his recent book Paul Newman: A Life, together with quite a nice slide show. It was fascinating to hear how he did his research and about some discoveries of new materials he found. I hope AIFF recorded the talk and will put it online...
Lobby of Ashland Springs Hotel. The Filmmaker Talkback events take place in a room on the mezanine, upper right. There's a nice garden up there too. (Oregon State Archives)

Then directly to Bag It, a documentary that doesn't sound too appealing but believe me, it's first rate - had me laughing, crying, then laughing again - extremely entertaining and moving. I will never look at plastic the same way again, and I feel better for it. So will you, or any homo sapiens with a functioning head and heart. It earned a standing ovation from the audience for the filmmaker, who was there for Q&A, and there was much spirited discussion until we were chased out so the volunteers could prepare the venue for the next feature. Here's an intro to the film. It's just a taste; you really need to see the whole thing. I'd recommend this one to absolutely anybody and gave it the highest rating. It must be a frontrunner for the audience favorite award...
PS: I was right about that - it won the audience favorite award for best documentary.

Next film was the Oscar-nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Wow! This too had a standing ovation from the audience and one of the filmmakers was there for a Q&A. It does an amazing job of telling the story and I loved this because though I remember most of the story, in my own memory it was all jumbled up. It was a crazy, chaotic, scary time to be living - much like today. Several times when obvious parallels with recent events are clear, the audience reacted audibly, which shows the filmmakers were wise not to belabor these points; they were made clearly enough that the audience got it with no further push. It also inspired some discussion about what's different now - for instance, we no longer have such an independent press; and the Supreme Court is not what it used to be. This is another one that everyone should see. You can view a trailer at the link, above. This film is fascinating, moving, focused, and true. Just... see it!

Together on the program with the Ellsberg film (AIFF description at link above) was a terrific short, Lone Wolf, which documents yet another Grand Jury abuse - why aren't people more up in arms about Grand Juries? This is about a journalist, Josh Wolf, who comes up against the system and keeps his integrity. As long as I can remember, Grand Juries have been used as witch hunts and as a secret weapon to circumvent citizens' Constitutional rights to due process, freedom of speech, and habeas corpus.

So why is it still going on???? It's like everyone agrees to just look the other way. It's been an elephant in the room at least since the Seventies, when I first became aware of them as our dreaded domestic KGB/Stassi equivalent. Grand Juries are the original Patriot Act, just a wholesale scrapping of everything our judicial system is supposed to protect. I know they have their uses, but why isn't the law changed, so that Grand Juries can't be used in this way? Here's the whole film - it's under six minutes but it's a big subject:  



Not least for the day... seeing some new friends. Nice to share and discuss and explore these films and the social context they are part of, the world as we know it. One of these new friends introduced me to a great Pacific Rim fusion restaurant Dragonfly, just up the hill from the Varsity. And throughout the festival, it's just so fine to be around several thousand others, whether I know them or not, who also appreciate these movies. Which in turn remind me to appreciate the people around me in my life here.

One of the ones that got away because you just can't do it all at AIFF -
 Panel discussion I had to miss - Reel Women - women filmmakers. (AIFF photo on Facebook.)

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